If all-terrain vehicle users were in a musical chair contest for recreational space, they may be left standing if recent Crow Wing County Board meetings are indication of public support.
A possible ATV park barely has gone beyond a conception stage for 1,000 acres of tax-forfeited land in Irondale Township. The land is a former mine pit area south of Trommald. The county has been looking into an ATV riding area after residents made it a priority in public meetings regarding the county's park plan. There are 6,000 ATVs registered in the county.
But a proposed environmental study of the 1,000 acres to see what the land may be suitable for as a public use has met steady opposition. Board Chairman Gary Walters said even if the environmental study moved forward, there are a lot of questions to answer before an ATV park moved in.
Tuesday, elected representatives from Trommald, Riverton, Irondale Township, Wolford Township and a few area residents all expressed misgivings about an ATV park. They voiced concerns about a trout lake, noise affecting neighboring properties, about the nearby Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area and about enforcement to keep riders in the park.
Commissioner Terry Sluss said it sounded as though the environmental study was premature. He suggested sending the matter back to the parks committee, saying an ATV park could not be successful without support.
Land east of the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport was suggested as a better site.
Jim Hiller, Trommald mayor, said the council does not want the ATV park.
"The big thing is policing," he said.
Then taking off his mayoral hat, Hiller said as an ATV rider he knows there are many people in the area who have the machines. He said over the Fourth of July ATVs were in the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area where they are prohibited. No one was patrolling and no one was hurting the area, he said. Hiller suggested commissioners sit down with ATV associations as they once did snowmobile groups to come up with a compromise plan. Hiller said he would like to see more research done without being locked into one site.
Terry Martin, Riverton council member, said ATV users needed something, but he was concerned about safety.
Sluss said speakers brought up good points, including Trommald's size and resources when considering a potential influx of ATV riders to the small town.
Commissioner Dewey Tautges said: "Everything we do is close to somebody."
RENEE RICHARDSON can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5852.
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