Curbing ATVs in Wheatfieldby jmaloni
by Susan Mikula Campbell
A wet spring hasn't slowed the complaints from Wheatfield residents about ATVs.
On Monday, Supervisor Bob Cliffe reported he had contacted North Tonawanda Mayor Robert Ortt and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority about the possibility of putting a gate on property owned by the NFTA in NT. The property is being used as an access point by ATV riders, who drive along the property next to the railroad tracks. The town would have to pay for the gate.
Cliffe explained that as you head toward the river on Witmer Road, on the right just before the tracks are two access roadways.
"One goes to the old Niagara County landfill, and that has a gate on it. The other is right next to the tracks themselves, and goes well back into Wheatfield, turns and becomes an access road for farming as well as maintenance of the southern drainage ditch and two large lakes there. As this is next to Doald's Hill, it is an access point for ATVs on trailers," Cliffe said. "Our next step is to get a price for a fence, and see if it is within our reach."
Cliffe said the gate wouldn't stop ATV traffic, but would prevent riders from bringing ATVs in on trailers and parking there.
Councilman Larry Helwig said some of the ATV riders are second and even third generation riders. As the town has become more developed, areas that used to be open fields, now contain housing developments.
In his discussions with Niagara County resident Jeff Binga, president of the New York State Off Highway Recreational Vehicle Association, he has learned that legal areas to ride ATVs are difficult to find locally.
Binga has volunteered to work with the Town Board and the town's Recreation Focus Group to see if it is possible to have a safe and lawful place for ATV operators to ride.
Meanwhile, Helwig suggested that the town constables park their vehicles at access places along the railroad tracks at peak riding times. North Tonawanda Police already have been asked to be on the lookout for ATV riders in their area.
In other matters:
•The board went into executive session to discuss personnel matters in both the building and recreation departments.
The board decided to temporarily suspend Recreation Director Ed Sturgeon pending a hearing on a Civil Service Article 75 disciplinary hearing.
The other matter involved Building Inspector Joe Caturia, who is resigning to start his own business and is working with the town to ease the transition.
•The board requested its engineers to prepare a professional services proposal for full reconstruction of Craig Drive. Actual construction wouldn't begin until next year.
•The next Town Board meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. June 24 at Town Hall.