By CRISTINE MEIXNER
SPECULATOR - The sidewalk snowmobile trails issue here is revving up.
Twenty-four merchants and snowmobile club members signed in at the Village of Speculator Board of Trustees meeting Monday, Sept. 16, to express their support for using the sidewalk along State Route 8/30 as a snowmobile trail.
The village sent a letter to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation in April, copied to the Town of Lake Pleasant and its superintendent of highways, D.R.A.G. and Pleasant Riders informing them that due to the damage done to the sidewalks this past winter, the village has no other recourse but to close the sidewalks to snowmobile traffic.
Bob Carr, vice president of D.R.A.G. of Speculator Inc., a snowmobile trail grooming club, described the trails in the village and their problems before saying, “We support you if you decide to shut down the sidewalk trail, but we feel there needs to be an alternate route to the businesses and time is of the essence, especially if we have to get landowner permission and have to do cutting. We want to solve the problem; we don’t want a conflict.
“The question is where are these alternate trails? For the River Trail from the parking lot to the Burn Pit, C4 from the parking lot to the Tree Farm, the parking lot to Downey Ave. and most controversial the parking lot to The Four Corners.”
Mayor Letty Rudes said, “We are not anti-business and we are not anti-snowmobiler, but we do have somewhat of an obligation to residents who do not snowmobile but want to walk, jog, walk their dog, whatever.
“I have a real problem with clients of the Day Treatment Center in wheelchairs being wheeled in the highway while the snowmobiles are on the sidewalk.
“We may not be able to clear the sidewalks this coming season. We do need to work together. Eleven years ago there was a lawsuit that suggested an alternate trail be found. We’re still in the same box.
“We may not be able to make it happen this season, but we’re certainly willing to work toward the following season. We’re willing to work with DRAG.”
John Foley asked, “You’re saying nothing can be done for the 2013-14 season; does that mean the sidewalk trail will be open or closed?”
“It appears it would be open,” Rudes said, but the board did not vote on the matter.
Rudes asked for volunteers to work on finding alternate routes. “We’re more than willing to help but not in a position to spearhead the effort,” Carr said.
Rudes said the Town of Lake Pleasant would have to spearhead the effort, as it is responsible for the trails.
Trustee Edward Brooks agreed. “The town highway superintendent is the one in contact with the DEC in Northville; he has to be involved; the ball is in his court. He gets the permits, he’s in charge.”
Rudes said she would send a letter to the town about setting up a meeting.