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All Terrain Vehicles in Winthrop?
Town council to decide October 3

A crowd of more than 60 citizens listened to the pros and cons of allowing all terrain vehicles (ATV) on roads in the town of Winthrop at a town council meeting in the Winthrop Barn September 19.

The Winthrop Town Council made no ATV decision at the meeting. Mayor Dave Acheson said the Council decision would be announced as “an agenda item at the next meeting” which will be October 3 at 7:00 at the Winthrop Barn.

Members of the North Central ATV Club, including club president Spencer King and board member Ed Surette, touted the safety and relative quietness of their mode of transportation. “I know noise is a major factor,” for some people, said King, before going on to explain that a stock ATV four-wheeler is rated at 86 decibels. That’s not much louder than a telephone, and quieter than a standard recreational vehicle (RV).

“ATV’s have a very good safety record,” said Surette. He said between 2007 and 2011 in Montana and Idaho traffic deaths involving ATVs amounted to less than on half of one percent of total fatalities. He also pointed out the good works of the club: “We police ourselves,” he said: they promote safety, educate other ATVers, clean campgrounds and are available for search and rescue.

“What we’re looking for is a connection” to the Methow Valley, said Surrette. ATVers now have a route between Conconully and Loomis and would very much like to connect Conconully and Winthrop. “Destinations and loop routes” are what they are building, he said.

People who spoke against the idea of allowing ATVs in Winthrop, focused on safety, the lack of safe and legal routes into and out of town, congestion in Winthrop and the ability of an already-stretched-thin Winthrop police department to take on more enforcement.

Greg Garner mentioned the congestion and “close calls at the top of Pool Hall Hill.” Several spoke about the East Chewuch Road as an already busy road with traffic including walkers, bikers, motorcycles, RVs and a lot of local traffic which didn’t need the addition of another type of transportation.

Roxie Miller said that most main roads and state highways are off limits to ATV-ers. She pointed out ATVs are not meant to be operated on pavement and that they would have to be taken out of town on trailers anyway. Other towns which are opened to ATVs have still kept their main thoroughfares closed, she said.

“Let’s think about the load on our police department and give them some slack” said one speaker.

Duncan Bronson said that the town would be opening itself up to increased liability risk. If there was an accident in town involving an ATV, the town could be “cited for contributory negligence,” he said.

“I’m not against ATV’s said Mel Hartwig, who credited the North Central ATV Club for responsible attitude and actions. “I just don’t think its wise for Winthrop to do.”

“We have plenty of places to snowmobile and ATV - but not in Winthrop,” concluded Tom Sullivan.

In other Council business, Sue Langdalen was sworn in as a new Council member at the meeting.


Have a comment?

I wish to correct the statement attributed to me in this article. By RCW 46.09.280 a city of less than 3,000 citizens may pass an ordinance that could allow ORV's on all city streets including State Highways and Country Roads. Many towns in northeastern WA do allow ORV's within their city limits but have chosen to not allow them on State Highways or main connector roads that lead to County Roads. They understand the hazards associated with ORV's on these roadways within their city. I do support no ORV,s within the town limits of Winthrop. Thank you.

Roxie Miller