Council looks for ATV Committee

Looking for volunteers to advice them on creating ATV park


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  • Photo by Ed Bailey People ride ATVs year round, including on frozen Greenwood Lake, as seen here.



BY LINDA SMITH HANCHARICK
Residents who want to be on the township's ATV Committee should get their Citizen Leadership Forms completed and into the clerk, as the council continues to move forward with a possible ATV park in town.

The committee has not been created yet, although it was on the agenda Wednesday night. But the council decided to table the resolution to create an ATV committee, instead choosing to wait until the Sept. 17 meeting giving them time to revise the wording. They plan to create the committee as well as make appointments that same night.

Earlier this year, Councilman Lou Signorino suggested that the township provide a place for ATV riders to ride safely and legally. He and others on the council said they do not believe riders are criminals and that the township should look into providing them a place, just as it did for skateboarders with the Mt. Laurel Skate Park and bike riders with the pump track.

The committee's job will be to advise the council.

Potential properties
Township Administrator Kenneth Gabbert put together a list of potential sites for an ATV park. He will look into any restrictions on the properties, which are owned by the township. An ATV park would have to be located in a remote area so the noise isn't disruptive to nearby residents.

One property mentioned was Random Woods. The Random Woods property is 99 acres of town-owned land off Ridge Road, but was shot down because of its proximity to residential areas. Riders already use the property illegally, which prompted a crackdown by police in the spring. They issued a zero tolerance policy for motorized vehicles on the Random Woods property. If caught, riders can have their vehicles impounded and face fines or criminal charges.

Privately run
However, just as the Jersey Off-Road Bicycle Association has built and managed the pump track, the township is trying to get a private entity involved with the proposed ATV park. That way, the private organization would come in and run the park and have its own insurance. Liability is a huge issue for the township. The state tried to do the same with an ATV park in Woodbine. The township is using the state's bid as a guide.

Although the state received no bids, there were four organizations "very interested" in running the Woodbine ATV park, said township attorney Fred Semrau. He has the names of those organizations.

"It's a great lead for us," said Semrau.

Building a committee
Signorino said many professionals have contacted him, interested in the ATV Committee. He said it would be great to get people involved who know how things work.

Residents interested in being on the committee should go to the township website, www.westmilford.org, and complete the Citizen Leadership Form.

Signorino, Councilwoman Michele Dale and Mayor Bettina Bieri have expressed interested in serving on the committee. The proposed resolution named the three to be on the committee. It left blank the number of citizen members.

After it is assembled, the committee will research the feasibility of placing an ATV park at various township-owned properties and make recommendations to the council.

The committee will also review the state's request for proposal and suggest any amendments to it.

A bigger park
Rea Wundrack-Lippner has lived in West Milford for many years and said her entire family rides. Her son is a professional. She told the council that the township needs a place for riders, but said it would have to be "much larger" than 110 acres. Parking and traffic control will take a large amount of the space, she said.

"We need to look at larger pieces of land with a buffer," said Wundrack-Lippner.

Although recreation is the main purpose for a park like this, she said it would benefit the township and its riders in other ways too.

"It would teach sustainability," she said. "What happens to the environment when you don't adhere to the rules?"

Wundrack-Lippner, who is also a member of the Chamber of commerce, said she knows many people in town who would be willing to help.

Councilwoman CarlLa Horton said she is open to the ATV park, as long as it is thoughtfully done with concern for neighbors.

What's next
The township next meets on Sept. 17 and plans to create the committee and fill it. Those wishing to be considered for the ATV Committee should log onto www.westmilford.org and go to "Forms and documents" in the left column. Page down to "Clerk's office," then "Authorities/Boards/Committees/Commissions." Click on Citizen Leadership Form. Complete the form and either email it to clerksoffice1@westmilford.org or fax it to 973-728-2704.

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