Usage of ATVs and UTVs within Tomah city limits is once again a possibility.
The Tomah City Council’s Committee of the Whole revisited the issue during Monday’s meeting at Tomah city hall but took no action on an issue that has been simmering for two years.
The issue was originally discussed at the Oct. 10, 2016, committee meeting at the request of the Monroe County ATV/UTV Club after it had discussions with city administrator Roger Gorius, Public Works director Kirk Arity and police chief Mark Nicholson about the possibility of opening routes within the city.
At the Feb. 14, 2017, council meeting, council members voted down the proposed ordinance to open routes in the city.
Council member Lamont Kiefer, who voted against the ordinance’s passage, requested that the matter be revisited Monday after hearing from Tomah’s business community, Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitor’s Bureau and community members expressing support for the routes.
Mayor Mike Murray said there was confusion when the topic was originally discussed. He said there was a perception that ATVs and UTVs would be driving on every street in the community and cause traffic problems.
“That seemed to be the predominant thought process of people that they were going to see ATVs everywhere and then they took it to the next level with ‘What if?’ questioning,” he said.
Murray said the ordinance is written so that “anybody driving an ATV or UTV is still under the same jurisdiction of the police department in having to follow the rules of the road. If they’re somewhere they’re not supposed to be on, they’re going to get pulled over and get a ticket.”
Kiefer said his concern was how to connect the routes from the south end to the north end. He wants a detailed map of the proposed routes and steps that need to be taken to connect both ends of town.
“For me to totally back it, I want to see that plan,” he said. “I don’t see any sense of having a route through Tomah if the north end is not on it. ... I would just like to see a more complete plan on how we’re going to get to the north side.”
Mike Pierce, president of the Monroe County ATV/UTV Club, said to get the north side routes open, there needs to be an ordinance and routes open in the city for state cooperation.
“You have to have something open so that you’re able to apply for the rest of (the roads),” he said. “You can’t just go to the state and tell them you want that highway open and you don’t even have an ordinance in place. They want to see that you’re active in this and you want to keep going. You’ve got to start your way here and work your way up, same way with the county.”
Council member Wayne Kling said he’s split on whether to open routes within the city because of the constituents he has talked to, half are against the routes. He also believes the routes are a safety hazard.
Community member Susan Holme voiced her displeasure of the city even considering allowing ATVs and UTVs to operate within the city limits. She said one of her family members was killed when a truck hit her while she was on an ATV.
“I cannot understand the possibility of you guys approving, even thinking of bringing a small vehicle into an area where there’s a ton of traffic,” she said. “They don’t belong in a city. This is absolutely outrageous.”
Kiefer said council members need input from their constituents to see where they stand and need to see a plan for implementing routes before any further action is taken.