Gorham Residents Attend Public Hearing to raise Concerns about OHRV Use

May 8, 2014

By Kirstan Lukasak
The Berlin Daily Sun

GORHAM – Close to 40 residents turned out to voice their opinion on the proposed route opening up Crestwood Drive to OHRV traffic. The route would also include a section fo Jimtown Road for riders to gain access to designated trails. Before the meeting began, Selectman Bill Jackson reiterated that a vote would not be made after the meeting. The main purpose of the meeting was to hear the opinions of residents who would be impacted by the proposed route.

Clinton Savage, district supervisor for the Bureau of Trails, opened the meeting by fielding questions from residents about specific concerns. Savage also explained the process of opening up the trail system on state roads. Any roads that are being considered for OHRV travel have to reviewed by the Department of Safety and the Department of Transportation. “Currently the Department of Safety and the Department of Transportation are on board with all the roads that are currently open to OHRV traffic”, stated Savage.

Another option that is being considered is opening up OHRV traffic up Route 2 to Jimtown Road, instead of Crestwood. The selectmen agree that a discussion needs to take place on looking into alternative options for opening up the use of OHRV’s. Savage said the Bureau of Trails would look into that option as well.

“For safety reasons, we were under the impression that using Route 2 to Jimtown Road was not open, because of the speed drivers travel while coming down the hill”, commented Selectman Jeff Schall.

The majority of the residents who spoke at Monday nights meeting were opposed to opening Crestwood for OHRV use. However several residents were interested in looking at other alternatives.  “Its common sense to open up Route 2. It would only add another 1,500 feet of use. Right now ATVers are already allowed to ride down to the T&C where it is 40-50 miles an hour. Why would we even talk about opening Crestwood and impact another street,” commented Ron Dagesse, owner of the Mt. Madison Motel in Gorham.

Jackson also discussed opening up travel to the northern end of Jimtown Road, so that residents can access the trail. Mike Pike, a resident of Crestwood Drive submitted a signed petition with 19 residents opposed to opening up use and 10 residents in favor. He did remark that some residents did not vote either way.

Residents also raised concerns about speed, noise, operating hours and how the trails are being patrolled. Operating hours for the trail system are half an hour before sunrise and half an hour before sunset. Residents are told to call the police department with any concerns about riders using the trails. 

Although there were limited comments supporting the trail connector, Dagesse said opening up Main Street to OHRV use has helped his business. He is able to employ ten people and can stay open tow months longer during the season.

Several members from the Presidential OHRV club were also there to hear concerns from the residents. Club Secretary Marie Duguay was glad to see that people were getting involved.  “This is just another piece to addressing access to the town. Thank you to everyone who came out to voice their concerns and show their support”, said Duguay.

The selectmen still have more information to gather before voting on expanding the trail. The board hopes to make a vote during the next meeting, however it will be dependent on getting the necessary information.
Residents who were unable to attend Monday night’s meeting or who did not want to speak publically, were notified that they could submit their input in writing to the town of Gorham by the close of business on Friday. To be considered letters must addressed and signed.

The next meeting will be held May 19, 6 p.m. at the Gorham Town Hall.


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