Wilton board discusses winter road maintenance, ATV traffic

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WILTON – On Tuesday evening, the Wilton select board held a public hearing on winter road maintenance and closures prior to the board meeting.

A hearing is held every 10 years to decide whether or not to continue not providing winter maintenance on certain roads. This year, four roads were brought to the board to discuss: Farmer Road, Hanslip Road, Cemetery Road, and Magrath Road.

Magrath Road was reopened last fall and plowed this winter at the request of a new resident, Kara Moody, who was present at the hearing. She thanked the town for listening to her concerns in the fall and for plowing through the winter, and shared her hopes that they decide to continue maintaining the road.

John Masse, Wilton Highway Department foreman, suggested plowing up to the two full time residences on Magrath Road. He also informed the board that the town would likely have to do the required maintenance over the next few years due to the fact that the expenses will exceed the budget for the next fiscal year. He estimated the cost of materials, time, and equipment to be in the $75,000 to $100,000 range.

Later in the evening, during the select board meeting, the board took action on the winter road maintenance issue. Selectperson Keith Swett made a motion to close Farmer Road, Hanslip Road, Cemetery Road and 2,500 feet of Magrath Road, which will be a continuation of what was plowed this past winter.

Despite the concerns that Selectperson Mike Wells expressed about the cost, considering it is for just two residences and the tight budget, the motion passed unanimously.

The board continued their discussion on the ATV access on Temple Road which was tabled at the previous meeting. Several Wilton residents attended and aired their opinions on the topic. Many people spoke up for the positive impacts of ATV access to the town, including Michelle Jarvis, owner of Shelly’s Hometown Market. “I feel that that trail has helped my business immensely,” Jarvis said. “I have had no problems with any four wheelers being loud or being obnoxious.”

Others, both those who own ATVs and those who don’t, shared their support of the recreational activity, for the economic benefits and for getting people outside. Also, many Temple Road residents reported noise complaints and dangerous activities.

“The noise is incredible. There’s sometimes trains of six, ten ATVs at once,” Michael Haney said. “It’s a matter of quality of life versus financial advantage.”

The board had discussed the possibilities of finding another route that would maintain access to the rest of the county but would avoid residential roads. The president of the Temple Trail Riders, Martha Eastman, said that this was considered in previous years, but ultimately they determined there were no other options: “It just didn’t work out.” She offered to add more signs to enforce 20 miles per hour on the road and the dawn til dusk policy.

The president of the Western Maine ATV Club was also present at the meeting and shared his own experience: “I’m disabled. My grandson’s disabled. I can’t go out and walk through the woods. I use a four-wheeler to do it.” He also addressed noise complaints, saying that “if it’s loud, it’s not legal,” making this an issue of enforcing the law rather than taking away access for the rule-abiders enjoying recreation.

Selectperson Swett made a motion to continue to keep the trail open and review it again in a year with the hopes that there will be better enforcement.

Selectperson Tiffany Maiuri seconded the motion. “I listened to both sides and I do think there are legitimate concerns but I also think that, you know, where the town’s going is that we are no longer a manufacturing base, and so we live, work and play,” Maiuri said.

The board voted to pass the motion unanimously.

This meeting was recorded by Mt. Blue TV and is available for viewing online at MtBlueTV.org

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