Is West Milford ready for ATVs?

Ordinance bans them but council is getting more information on allowing them


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  • By Ed Bailey ATV riders frequently use a frozen Greenwood Lake in winter to ride their vehicles. The township council is looking into the possibility of allowing riders to use some public lands.



BY LINDA SMITH HANCHARICK

As the police are cracking down on all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) on public lands, the West Milford Township Council has sparked a discussion about allowing riders on certain public land.

In May, police put out a press release saying "there will be a zero tolerance policy for motorized vehicles" in public areas. "The West Milford Police will actively patrol the area and enforce township ordinance #256-11 and township ordinance #379-4 which state that all motor vehicles shall be prohibited in public or quasi public recreation areas when not specifically permitted."

Councilman Lou Signorino said he wants more of a discussion on that.

"Lots of people ride ATVs and come here to ride them," Signorino said.

He noted that in the state of New Jersey, you may only ride on your own property.

"I think people should consider public property as 'their' property," he said. "I would like to consider having a piece of property where the kids can ride. It is public land. I'm open to more than just having the trees grow there."

'Ordinance is clear'

The release by police was specifically targeted at the property known as Random Woods, a 99-acre tract owned by the township and purchased with open space funds. It is accessible from trails off of Ridge Road, Mickens Road and Macopin Road. "The West Milford Police wish to emphasize to persons who operate these vehicles illegally that once apprehended they face possible impoundment of these vehicles, summonses, fines or criminal charges," the release stated.

Signorino said he doesn't think kids riding these vehicles should be treated like criminals and compared it to graffiti. Kids are going to do it anyway; why not give them a place for it, he said, noting that Ringwood has a graffiti wall where it is allowed.

Interim Administrator Robert Casey told the council that the ordinance is clear and the township is trying to keep the area quiet and enforce the ordinance.

Councilwoman Ada Erik said there is more to this issue than just designating a spot for people to ride. Depending on what monies were used to buy the land, there may be restrictions. And, in order to get the quads on the property, parking has to be provided, she said.

"We have to give them a place to park if we allow quads at Random Woods," she said.

ATV park?

The township partnered with JORBA, the Jersey Off Road Bicycle Association, to build the pump track behind the Recycling Center on Lycosky Drive. Could that be a possibility for an ATV park?

Township attorney Fred Semrau told The West Milford Messenger they will look into finding an organization to see if there is a suitable ATV site. Insurance liability is a major consideration. The township's risk manager is getting quotes.

Councilman Mike Hensley asked if there is a way to limit users to township residents and prevent people from coming from other towns or states. Semrau said the township could limit it to township residents if the property was acquired with township funds alone. Green Acres funding from the state allows all to use the property, including out of state residents. The township purchased Random Woods with both township and state funding.

What are your thoughts? Should people be allowed to ride their dirt bikes and ATVs on public land? Go to westmilfordmessenger.com and tell us.

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