St. Lawrence County tables permit proposal for side-by-sides on county multi-use trail system
BY JIMMY LAWTON
North Country This Week
St. Lawrence County plans to allow heavier machines, like side-by-sides, on the multi-use trail system, but for now a proposed permitting process aimed at raising funds to ensure its longevity has been tabled.
A public hearing held Monday centered on a local law to re-establish the multi-use recreational trail system permitting process.The idea behind the permitting process is to generate revenue to allow for trail growth and secure stronger easements for longevity.
Legislator Tony Arquiett, who has taken lead on the issue, said the proposed fees would be $60 for non-recreational club members, $45 for members. For families with multiple machines at one address additional fees would be $20 per additional machine.
Arquiett said he envisions all revenues to be returned to the trail.
“We want to put every single cent of the trail permitting revenue back into the trail system,” he said.
While Arquiett says the existing trail in its current form has been well received he is hoping the new funding can secure some long-term easements with landowners.
In some cases parts of the trail are not fully secured if the current leases are not renewed or if property is sold.
“We’d like to sit down and negotiate with landowners to get some long term deals made,” he said.
The model is something the county saw happen in neighboring Lewis County, where home rule legislation was used to craft a trail system model that fit the needs of the rural county.
Arquiett says the St. Lawrence County version would be similar, but suggested tabling the agreement to make sure it was well vetted and was made to meet local needs.
One of the major issues associated with the multi-use trail is that vehicles have to be registered in order to ride on them and unfortunately in New York State, a 1,000-pound weight limit makes it impossible for residents to register side-by-sides.
These multi-passenger recreation vehicles have become widely popular throughout the United State, because they allow people with physical disabilities and families with multiple members to participate in what has been traditionally limited to people with four-wheelers or dirt bikes.
“There is nothing more that UTV owners across this state would love to do more than register their side-by-sides,” Arquiett said. “Unfortunately New York is the only state in the continental U.S. that doesn’t allow that.”
The permitting process under the proposed local law could allow for those machines to be used on the multi-use trail on all areas except state land.
Several St. Lawrence County residents spoke at the hearing Monday raising concerns about that very issue.
At the meeting Arquiett said the intent of the county legislator would be to ensure that the weight limit included in the final document will accomplish that goal.
“The voice was clear across the county as to what they are looking for. It’s a must for us and we’re going to make sure we get it right,” he said.
Arquiett said he is hopeful that the final document can be passed in time for the upcoming trail season.