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County weighs limits on road use

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LOWVILLE — Lewis County legislators will consider a proposed local law restricting use of temporarily opened county roads solely to registered participants of the Snirt Run.

The Lewis County Economic Development and Recreation, Forestry and Parks committees approved the proposal Thursday morning, along with a resolution outlining requirements for Gary R. Stinson, president of the Barnes Corners Sno-Pals snowmobile club and Snirt run organizer, to comply with before roads will be approved for opening for the event.

The conditions of the resolution, as well as the proposed law, came after brainstorming efforts with law enforcement, businesses and committee members, following numerous complaints of damage and lawlessness at last year’s Snirt Run.

“It’s a great event,” said Legislator Bryan D. Moser, R-Kirschnerville, “but it started small and you’ve grown so big, we need to help each other.”

Mr. Stinson said he believes damage in previous years has been done by “renegade” all-terrain vehicle operators, or those who do not register with his club for the event.

Lewis County Undersheriff James M. Monnat addressed the committee, saying a sticker placed on the headlights of event-registered ATVs could indicate to his deputies whether an operator has, in fact, registered.

Lewis County Attorney Richard J. Graham said that by passing a local law saying the roads are open solely for participants of the event, legislators could give authority to the Sheriff’s Department to issue tickets to ATV drivers who have not registered.

The outgoing county attorney advised the Legislature that public roads can be opened up with the exclusive right to use them given to people who choose to pay registration fees to a private entity, such as Barnes Corners Sno-Pals.

This is legal, Mr. Graham said, “because absent the permission for this special event, they wouldn’t be able to use it. The roads are opened up solely for this use.”

The committee will recommend to the Legislature opening county roads from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 12 for the event.

The public hearing on the law has not yet been set.

Committee members asked Mr. Stinson to guarantee the event will be limited to roadway, minus a stretch of land leading to The Edge Hotel in Lyons Falls. Owners of private parcels of land have given permission for its use. Michael V. Hurilla, hotel owner, will construct fencing, barricades and signage in that area.

Mr. Stinson agreed to have all promotional items, maps and registration material stress that the run is a road-only event.

Mr. Stinson will participate in a meeting scheduled for two weeks before the event to assess road conditions and predicted weather conditions and address any areas of concern. Representatives from affected towns, the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the county Highway Department, area law enforcement, fire departments and emergency management are expected to attend to coordinate their efforts.

Committee members told Mr. Stinson he needed to improve his volunteer coverage during the event, particularly at critical intersections, to which he said, “I don’t have enough.”

He was encouraged to reach out to other snowmobile clubs for help.

New maps have to be produced and approved by Lewis County Recreational Trail Coordinator Jacqueline L. Mahoney. The map must contain emergency and non-emergency numbers for participants to use, as well as a statement that organizers are not promoting the use of illegal vehicles, such as side-by-sides.

Organizers will conduct a sweep of the event route after 8 p.m. to ensure no drivers have been stranded on the route.

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