WEST MILFORD — The township will not be getting an ATV park.
Last week, the township council decided it would not reestablish the ATV Committee in January.
The township formed the committee last September to advise them on selecting a location for a proposed ATV park. Councilman Lou Signorino spearheaded the idea to give ATV riders a safe and legal place to ride their vehicles. It is illegal in New Jersey to ride ATVs on public land.
Some historyThere were 21 residents who volunteered to be part of the seven-member ATV committee, showing the popularity of ATVs in the area. Signorino and Councilwoman Michele Dale were the two liaisons from the council. The committee was to look at potential locations for the park and advise the council.
However, there were some issues with the entire concept. First, the township learned its insurance company would not provide liability insurance if the park was run by the township. A private entity would have to be brought in with their own insurance and run it on public land.
Then there was the neighbors. The state-owned Jungle Habitat property was one of the first sites to be considered by the committee. Its size and location seemed to be pluses for the project, as well as the fact that New Jersey was indeed looking to place ATV parks in locations throughout the state.
No place for itResidents of Mountain Circle, just off Morsetown Road and adjacent to the Jungle Habitat site, were not pleased with the site even being considered for an ATV park. They said they've been there and done that. Twelve years ago, an ATV park was proposed for Jungle Habitat. Residents were concerned with the impact it would have on the neighbors and the neighborhood. The noise from Jungle Habitat echoes and can be heard in the neighborhood, residents said. The state, county and town agreed with them a decade ago.
Residents not just from that neighborhood were against Jungle Habitat to be the location because of the bike and hiking trails that are maintained by local volunteers on the property. They were afraid the ATV riders would ruin them and also take away a peaceful place for passive recreation.
There aren't many other parcels of land in the township large enough and available to build such a park.
Funding pulledThen, earlier this year, the council decided to fund a feasibility study on the project, setting aside $11,000 for it. They pulled the funding a few months later. Councilwoman Marilyn Lichtenberg said the township shouldn't have to pay for a study. If the state wants the park, they can pay for the study, she said. And if a private entity is coming in, they can pay for it. A majority of the council agreed with her and they rescinded their prior commitment.
That seemed to be the end of the ATV park. With no feasibility study to find an appropriate place, they couldn't go forward.
Interest lostSignorino said just a few members have come to the ATV meetings lately.
"Only two members showed up at the last meeting," said Signorino. "That's it."
So he asked the mayor and council last week if there was still a need for the committee.
"Interest is lost," he said. "I'm curious if the council is still interested."
They aren't disbanding the committee; instead they won't reestablish it at the reorganization meeting in January, since there are no more meetings scheduled through the end of 2015.
What do you think about the ATV situation? Should the township keep looking or do you think West Milford isn't the right place? Go to westmilfordmessenger.com and tell us.