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Members of the City Council’s Municipal Operations and Property Subcommittee waded into the longstanding conflict between the Trails Committee and the Sanford ATV Club at their April 13 meeting, when they heard arguments from both sides about use of the Rail Trail.

Unlike other Sanford trails, the Rail Trail is designated as multi-use, which allows for walkers, horseback riders, motorized and non-motorized vehicles. Hazen Carpenter, Chairman of the Trails Committee, and Nick Taylor, President of the ATV Club, submitted written statements and were allowed time to speak.

Mr. Carpenter reported that the Trails Committee recently voted 8-3 to exclude ATVs from the Rail Trail because of noise and dust complaints, degradation of the trail and negative environmental impacts. He said that ATV riders discourage walkers and others from using the trail.

Mr. Taylor countered that the ATV Club is not allowed representation on the Committee, despite its members being the majority of users on the Rail Trail. He said the Club has offered to do maintenance work to offset the damage to the trail, but the offer has been rejected.

Dave Parent, another member of the Trails Committee, pointed out that both sides have merit: “It is time for the City Council to take this and develop a vision for that trail, and how it’s going to be used in the future. As you’ve heard today, people aren’t going to get along without that happening.”

City Manager Steven Buck responded that the City Council shouldn’t be the decision maker. “The most engaged group of users are here today,” he said. “It’s up to them to find the solution and pitch the Council.”

Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio disagreed. “We’ve reached the conclusion that there is no solution suitable for both, but we have to have that conversation and continue working on it.” She asked Mr. Carpenter to show Mr. Taylor a section of alternative trail he mentioned that the ATV Club might use instead.

Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy said ATV users going off trail was causing the most environmental damage, and asked Mr. Taylor if his club members could work on that issue in particular.

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