June 25, 2014NORTHUMBERLAND — The three-man board of selectmen approved allowing ATVs and other OHRVs to travel with the flow of traffic on some downtown streets after holding a public hearing before its regular biweekly meeting on June 9, according to draft minutes.
Chairman Jim Weagle and board member Jim Tierney voted "yes," and selectman Michael Phillips, "no."
Main Street, Melcher Street, State Street north to the town-owned swimming pool and Station Square were okayed by the board, but state approval is required for the section of Main and State Streets that is state-owned.
The selectmen's approval, which will be officially adopted as an ordinance, will sunset on Dec. 1, however, giving the board a chance to review results and impacts.
Page Hill Road has already been reopened to ATV use after a brief hiatus, linking between Groveton and Lancaster.
Nearly everyone who spoke at the hearing favored opening the downtown streets to ATVs believing it would boost the local economy and help the bottom-line of small businesses in Groveton that potentially could benefit from outdoor enthusiasts visiting Coös County to enjoy the "Ride the Wild: 1,000-plus miles on interconnected trails."
Al Rossetto, however, indicated that he is worried that there would be inadequate enforcement and that his "Private road — no ATVs" sign has both been ignored and vandalized. He said that he fears that residents' quality of life would be reduced.
Don Young explained, however, that he had bought an ATV side-by-side last year and that it had increased his quality of life. "With the major loss of the paper mills, this is an opportunity for us to embrace another industry – tourism," he said. "If we don't accept the ATVs, they're going to pass us by. It's all a matter of perspective."
Rossetto suggested that since everything is within easy walking distance, that the town instead turn an existing parking lot into a good stopping spot for ATV enthusiasts and install some picnic tables, trash cans and a Port-a-Potty plus a "Welcome to Groveton" sign.
Police officer Mario Audit suggested that the town give the street proposal a yearlong trial to see how it works.
Megan Gibbs showed the board a photo taken over the June 7-9 from weekend that shows the potential economic impact of ATVs in town. She pointed out, however, that ATVing is a seasonal activity.
The mill property owners have given permission to come through their yard and ATVs can also reach the Valero gas station and convenience store.
Businessman John Nugent said he had presented the board with a petition with 110 signatures of people in favor of the ATV-riders having access to in-town businesses. Weagle noted that town residents had accounted for 65 of these signatures.