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August 22, 2019

8/9/2019 10:07:00 AM
Both sides shared at ATV Ordinance meeting, decisions still to be made
In last week's ordinance meeting at Mineral Point's City Hall, a group of over 30 people were informed that the conversation must remain civil.
Mineral Point's Mayor Jason Basting said during one point during the intensive, and at times contentious, two hour conversation, "no matter who is making a comment, we don't laugh. Let's treat everyone with respect because their opinion matters just as much as yours."
This conversation discussed the potential, but not yet decided, revising of a city ordinance pertaining to ATV/UTVs. There are people that believe that the ordinance should stay the same, while others believe that there are other options.
Those in support of the potential revision gave a proposal to committee members of possible routes. The proposal requests to open all streets for ATV and UTV traffic, unless it is posted.
Areas that are currently posted are: No riding allowed on High Street from Commerce Street, to the intersection of South Iowa Street; No riding allowed on Shake Rag Alley from Highway 23 to the intersection of Copper Street and Spruce Street; No riding allowed on Doty Street from Highway 23/Commerce Street to the intersection of North Iowa Street; No ATV/UTV at the end of Jackson Street and Greysville Street.
It was suggested to open the east side of Mineral Point, starting on Old Darlington Road, crossing Highway 23 into Merry Christmas Lane, through Copper Street, through Shake Rag Street, and then crossing to Antoine Road.
Jenny Goebel, who spoke in favor of opening up city streets said that she personally has known people that come from different areas from the trails, on their ATVs, have had to come back without their ATV's because access isn't allowed currently to businesses.
"It's an annual trip to come to Mineral Point because they like the area," Goebel said. "They like the community. They want to be able to access more."
There was concern to this due to the historic district overlay. People are opposed to any ATV/UTV ordinance revisions one reason being due to increased risk of violations.
One person stated that he fears more violations will happen around this area. He reported 20 violations in 10 days, after the 4th of July, because people were ignoring the signage.
"I think that because people cannot follow signs," he said. "I don't know how you're going to protect your historic district from this. People don't want to follow the signs. They feel entitled to just ignore the signs because who's going to chase them down?"
People are also concerned about the "future" of the historic district, should any proposed route changes be occupied on High Street and Commerce Street. Kathy Nutter an owner of a local shop occupied on High Street stated that Mineral Point has a certain Genius loci (very specific and special sense of place), through the preservation of its historic downtown. She stated that ATV's on High Street will diminish Mineral Point's tranquil charm.
"Over a few years it will have harmed our reputation and we will have fewer visitors," Nutter said. "If our main street dies off, the town will follow."
She also stated during the 4th of July Parade, she used her decimeter to measure the ATV's noise level.
"It doubled when an ATV went by," Nutter said. "It did go all the way up to 100."
Shan Thomas added that the city should do some sort of economic and environmental impact study before anything is decided, especially one that works with a historical designation.
"There's no way to mitigate the damage that ATVs are going to do to a main street of this international significance," Thomas said. "I mean, you're talking hundreds of people, tens of thousands of hours, hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of five decades and you are about to throw it out the window. You are about to begin to unravel the fabric that has been so studiously and definitively put together."
Steph McKeon pointed out that an ATV without fluids is 900 pounds or less and a UTV without fluids is 2000 pounds or less. She stated that there are cars, trucks, and semis, driving around Mineral Point weighing more than either an ATV or UTV, and she didn't hear any factual evidence about the damage that could be done to the historical overlay.
"We did not ask for High Street in our proposal, yet it keeps getting brought up," McKeon said. "This is 2019 it's time for change. It's time to bring other interests into the community and explore all hobbies, not just certain interests."
Committee chairman Mike Wagner reminded the group in attendance that the main concern of the discussion was people that live in the city and pay taxes, want to be able to get their UTV to a trail.
"It's not all about the downtown district," Wagner said. "Some of this has to do with what the people here in our city want, so we have to try to find some happy medium."
Bobbi Jo Rury, a business owner on High Street, stated that a healthy debate is good for the community.
"Because that's how we change and grow," Rury said.
She found a survey on the Mineral Point website regarding tourism and recreation. It highlighted that 91% showed support for tourism and recreation. She also added that three studies were done in Wisconsin, all showing that the average trail user is in their 40's with a high income, and highly educated.
"So as a business owner, that's exactly the type of customer that I want to attract because they probably have kids in their twenties, and they probably have parents in their sixties," Rury said. "They can go back and tell them what a beautiful city Mineral Point is and they really should come here."
"I agree with what Kathy said about how we have created an ambient downtown, and I do think that we need to take advantage of that," Wagner said. "But we need to take advantage of one of the largest recreational trails in southwestern Wisconsin. It makes good sense. We need good enforcement, and good rules to start with."
As time was a constraint, and there were many decisions to be made, the committee said there are plans to have a working committee meeting to look at options for potential routes and to determine if routes will be changed.

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