Hyde Park, Vermont - August 7, 2006
A quiet railbed is generating a lot of noise-- public debate over the proposed Lamoille Valley Rail Trail.
"You're not going to make everybody happy. You have a lot of supporters and opponents on this ATV issue, primarily," explained Vt. Transportation Agency Deputy Secretary David Dill.
The issue-- whether ATVs should be allowed on the trail, even just to cross it. Officially, the Agency of Transportation has deferred discussion on ATVs until the next legislative session. But at a public hearing Monday night on terms of the trail's lease, it's what most people wanted to talk about.
"One of the most serious problems with trails is the impact that ATVs have," said Tom Kastner, who opposes ATVs on the trail. "It's not fair to have resources degraded by the use of ATVs."
"We have a right to ride our ATVs and we think the state should be able to help us," said Anah Tuttle, who supports ATVs on the trail.
The Lamoille Valley Rail Trail is a $7 million project. It would convert 93 miles of old rail line into a four-season, multi-use recreational trail from St. Johnsbury to Swanton. Under the proposed 30 year deal, the state would own and oversee the trail and lease it to the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers, or VAST, for maintenance.
People weighed in at the hearing in Waterbury, and via interactive television.
"Because non-motorized use is non-polluting and quiet, it's incompatible with ATV use. The two are like oil and water," said Jack Daggitt, who opposes ATVs on the trail.
"I'm a 58-year-old woman who has asthma, knee problems. In my club, we have a paraplegic who rides a 4-wheeler, we have gentleman with MS. We are not able to ride bikes or horses, but we can ride an ATV!" argued Tuttle.
The state wants the lease decided before this year's construction season ends, that way something could be in place before the winter snowmobiling season begins. Again, the ATV issue won't be decided until the legislature can take a look.
Kate Duffy - Channel 3 News