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Marathon makes peace with host towns

By Megan McKee
Globe Correspondent / March 8, 2009
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Wellesley Executive Director Hans Larsen has signed off on this year's permit to allow the Boston Marathon to run through town next month, after the race's organizer met with local officials to discuss their budget problems and the escalating costs of hosting the world famous footrace.

Officials in Ashland, Framingham, Natick, and Wellesley had been delaying approval of Marathon permits until they could meet with the Boston Athletic Association to discuss the financial and logistical costs and to point out the impact on local businesses, some of which suffer significant losses during the annual Patriots Day event, observed on April 20 this year.

At a meeting Tuesday, the association agreed to consider providing more programming and publicity to the communities and to look at the possibility of increasing its payments to the towns in the future.

But the BAA won't add to this year's allotments of $29,000, which is already $3,000 more than the towns received last year.

Calling his organization's relationship with the four towns "closer than ever before," executive director Guy Morse said the BAA plans to help expand such programs Training Basics, which provides local students with instruction on running and healthy habits, as well as school visits by elite runners.

He also said the BAA would explore other ways to increase revenue for the towns through publicity.

"This meeting was an acknowledgment of what people are facing . . . costs are rising and budgets are tighter and the future is questionable," said Morse.

He said that the association will actively work with the towns to figure out ways to generate more money and consider upping donation amounts in the future.

Larsen signed off on the Marathon permit Wednesday.

Framingham's town manager, Julian Suso, was pleased with the meeting's outcome and said he looks forward to the closer relationship with the BAA.

"We had an excellent conversation and that was our fundamental purpose - to establish an ongoing dialogue," he said.

Tuesday night, Framingham's Board of Selectmen voted in favor of granting a permit that allows the Marathon to pass through the town.

Ashland's town manager, John Petrin, said he thinks the towns and the BAA have a better understanding of each others' positions and that it was a "good conversation."

The Natick Board of Selectmen plans to discuss the permit at their meeting tomorrow.

Morse said he hopes to convene a meeting with the towns in early summer to discuss the next steps.

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