WILTON – Trailmaster Mike Lee wants to bring all-terrain vehicle traffic to businesses downtown by opening a residential street as an access route.
But before he can do that, he needs to find out how the residents living along Village View feel about having their street opened as an ATV access route.
Since the first public discussion at the selectmen’s meeting this week, Lee, who serves as trailmaster for the Western Maine ATV Club, has already made revisions based on the concerns he heard that night.
“There was a lot of good input; a very informative meeting. Good, valid points were made. It helped us out,” Lee said.
In the beginning, the ATV club wanted to open an access route from where the Whistlestop Rail Trail at Rick’s Market in Dryden ends, up Burgess Hill on Routes 2/4 and enter onto Prospect Street, run the length of the residential street as an access to Wilton’s Main Street. But the state said it didn’t want ATVs riding along the busy Routes 2/4.
So now Lee is looking into using Village View Street, that enters behind Rick’s Market and cuts across town to intersect at Prospect Street, which drops, a short block away, onto Main Street.
The proposal includes an ATV 10 mph speed limit along the residential street, use only in the daylight hours and a trial period. Lee first asked selectmen that the access route be open from May 15 to Dec. 15, but shortened that to May 15 to Nov. 1 because of the possibility of snow.
“For safety’s sake, I’m thinking of vehicles not being able to stop well enough in the snow season,” Lee said. As far as criticism about 10 mph being too fast, Lee said, “It’s a joke to think someone could do damage at that speed.” One resident voiced concern over ATV noise at night for school children’s bedtimes, but Lee said they would ride only in the daylight hours, which in the summer is 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. but when school starts in September, the daylight hours are already shortened.
General safety concerns over increased traffic and noise on a residential street have been expressed by Wilton Police Chief Dennis Brown. When the Prospect Street plan was in the works, Lee gathered 19 signatures of residents along that street who were in favor of opening their street to ATVs. Only one resident was opposed, said Town Manager Peter Nielsen. And heard from another resident against the idea on Thursday.
“There are a lot of people we’ve yet to hear from,” Nielsen said. Lee intends to send letters out asking if people in Wilton are for or against the idea of opening Village View as an ATV access route. He noted there are 300 registered ATV owners in Wilton alone. He also will be going door to door on Village View Street to talk to residents face to face.
Lee said he has also changed the proposed trial period to a month to month basis. “If there are issues, I’ll shut the trail,” Lee said. “It’s as simple as that.”
Selectmen have asked for another discussion on the matter to seek opinions from the public at their Jan. 20 meeting, Nielsen said.