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Ely clarifies access for off-road vehicles

ATV Trails Task Force recommends changes

Keith Vandervort
Posted 6/16/21

ELY – Several recommendations from the new ATV Trails and Ordinance Task Force for the city of Ely were approved by the city council here Tuesday night, giving the off-road vehicles more access …

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Ely clarifies access for off-road vehicles

ATV Trails Task Force recommends changes

Posted

ELY – Several recommendations from the new ATV Trails and Ordinance Task Force for the city of Ely were approved by the city council here Tuesday night, giving the off-road vehicles more access to city streets.
The task force was formed last month to review and update city rules pertaining to off-road vehicle operation on city streets and to bring the city rules in compliance with county and state laws.
With a new recreational trailhead in the works on the west end of town, the task force’s main goal is to ensure that Ely is “ATV friendly while maintaining a high level of safety.”
Task force members include Ely Police Chief Chad Houde, city council members Ryan Callen and Al Forsman, Conservation Officer Sean Williams, and DNR Trail Representative Brad Dekkens. A city resident and two members of the Prospector Loop Alliance are also part of the task force.
With agreement from the city’s projects committee, a new four-way stop sign will be added to the intersection of West Harvey Street and 3rd Avenue West. Several streets were designated as corridor access trails within the city, and once an ordinance is passed, off-highway motorcycles will be allowed to operate on those corridors.
Regarding the new four-way stop sign recommendation, council member Heidi Omerza inquired as to any discussion held concerning winter travel up the hill on 3rd Avenue as vehicles make their way east into the health facilities parking lot.
Chief Houde said the two-way stop at that intersection is uncontrolled.
“There is a little bit of danger as it is now with ATVs operating in the area. We think the safest way is to have a four-way stop,” he said. “There is a little hill there, and there may be times when someone could roll back, depending on the road condition. I don’t believe a stop sign will prevent someone from getting up the hill there.”
Interim Mayor Chuck Novak noted that the stop sign action is not part of an ordinance and can be changed back at any time by direction of the council to the public works department.
Clerk-Treasurer Harold Langowski noted that a sign indicating a four-way stop at that intersection will help people get used to the change.
Council members also agreed with the recommendation to change the city ordinance to clarify references to ATVs as Class 1 and Class 2, in alignment with state statutes.
As many as eight ATV corridor access trails within the city, on West Harvey Street, Central Avenue, Pattison Street, 8th Avenue E, White Street, 19th Avenue E, Old Airport Road and Pioneer Road, will allow for uniform routes as ATV operators make their way around town. “ATVS are allowed on all city streets, except Sheridan (state highway right of way) and 17th Avenue (Highway 1),” Forsman said, “but we need trail routes for riders to get around town and have access to our community.”
The task force also recommended adding off-highway motorcycles to the city ordinance to be in line with state statutes. Novak said the city attorney will need to amend the ordinance. Two ordinance readings and a public hearing will be required to adopt the changes.
Other business
In other business, the city council:
• Approved a recommendation from the Projects Committee to submit a state bonding request of more than $4 million for the completion of the trailhead and necessary infrastructure for the entire west end development project for the hospital expansion, workforce housing and redevelopment of the former public works garage site.
• Approved a recommendation from the Projects Committee to have the city attorney draft an ordinance requiring all city residences to hook up to city electrical service.
• Langowski reminded the council that early voting for the mayoral special election begins on Friday, June 25. Election day is Tuesday, Aug. 10.
• Approved a request from Young Life for in-kind services for July 4th activities in Whiteside Park.
• Approved a resolution authorizing a raffle permit for the Jake Forsman Memorial Scholarship.
• Approved a street obstruction permit for the Blueberry Art/Festival and the Chamber of Commerce’s COVID-19 Preparedness Plan for the event.

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