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ATV trail to open by the end of the month


October 07, 2009
BERLIN — A city committee met on Wednesday to hash out the final details of the ATV route through the downtown that will link the trail systems to the east and west.

The committee was made up of city staff, members of the public works and police departments, state officials and the Androscoggin Valley ATV Club. They discussed how to implement the ordinance the city passed last month. They decided to target the trail open date for October 28.

The two big challenges the trail faces are marking and signing the trail and whether ATVs will go through or around Dead River Park. The committee made a number of decisions on both items.

The ATV club hadn't secured permission to cross land owned by the Salvation Army next to Dead River park. The city park and Salvation Army property line would bisect the proposed trail, so the committee decided if they couldn't secure Salvation Army permission the trail would have to go on the streets.

Representative Paul Ingersoll said he would approach the Salvation Army to see if he could secure permission for the club.

City manager Pat MacQueen said he was concerned about which streets ATVs would use to bypass the park if the Salvation Army doesn't grant the club permission. Some area residents have already expressed frustration about traffic noise, he said, and ATV traffic would likely lead to further complaints.

The trail still has to be marked through the city, both with signs and painted markers on the road. Signs will be put on existing sign posts where possible, the committee decided, but others will require posts put in. City planner Pam Laflamme said the city received a state grant for $25,000 to obtain easements, but the city didn't spend any of the money. She said she would send a request to the state to see if some of the money could be spent on signs.

AVATV Club trail master Erik Anderson and Berlin Public Works Department foreman Gary Roy agreed to walk the route to figure out how many sign posts needed. The club will be marking the route with green diamonds on the road and green trail signs over the next several weeks.

Councilor Tim Cayer said he had spoken with the high school about getting them to make an information kiosk for Tondreau Park. It would list the city and state laws for the trail and have a place for maps. He also suggested putting spaces to sell advertising on the kiosk. The high school just needs blueprints, he said, otherwise they are ready to go on the project.

The committee also decided to put signs outlining the city and state laws at either entrance to the trail through the city. Right now, those rules restrict the trail to licensed riders. The committee discussed allowing riders under 16 who had taken an ATV safety course and accompanied by someone over 25 on the trail, but they decided to put off any decisions on the matter for a future meeting.

They also agreed to plan their big kick off event for October 28, when they will invite the governor and statewide media for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The committee will meet again on October 14 to get an update on progress and to solidify plans for the October 28 event.

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