The Boulder Junction Town Board once again, as it has over the course of the past few months, heard more comment of the anti-all-terrain vehicle/utility variety at its meeting Tuesday.
Speaking in the public comment portion of the meeting, Boulder Junction resident Carla Tiefenthaler read for fellow Boulder Junction resident and business owner Sara Muender, a letter against ATVs and UTVs.
“I am begging you not to allow ATVs and UTVs anywhere near my Main Street business,” Muender wrote. “I don’t want to see them. I don’t want to smell them, and neither do my customers. Please follow the wishes of the majority of people in Boulder Junction and keep ATVs and UTVs off our town roads and especially off of Main Street.”
Her reference to “the majority of people” alluded to a survey completed in the December 2017 to January 2018, time frame which essentially showed most Boulder Junction residents are against any plans to allow the machines on town roads and streets.
Since that time, there’s been very little discussion about the issue at town board meetings but town chairman Dennis Reuss along with supervisors Laura Bertch and Jim Galloway have attended meetings of the local ATV/UTV club and on July 25, the most recent meeting of the “Alliance To Preserve Boulder Junction,” a group of Boulder Junction residents against ATVs and UTVs.
At Tuesday’s town board meeting, nothing was mentioned after the reading of Muender’s letter until Bertch brought it up toward the end when Reuss asked about items for future meeting agendas.
“I just wonder where the whole town is at with the ATVs,” she said. “I know what different people have said, but should we invite the ATV club to give us an update on that trail or ... I don’t know where we’re at.”
Reuss said it could certainly be put on a meeting agenda.
Wednesday, Reuss told The Lakeland Times he’s visited with Lee Hoffman of the Boulder Junction ATV/UTV club about possible route proposals involving town property and crossing town roads from that group.
“I’ve yet to see that,” he said, although he said he’d been contacted that morning by Hoffman about those proposals.
In the meantime, Reuss said in recent conversations he and others had with representatives of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources regarding the updating of the master plan for the agency’s Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest, “we wanted to see what the plan was.”
“Not just for today, but for the next several years,” Reuss said. “I guess that’s forthcoming.”
At Tuesday’s town board meeting, he indicated he’d been under the impression there’s a public information meeting scheduled soon regarding the Boulder Junction ATV/UTV situation.
Sara Pearson, the DNR’s forest recreation superintendent for the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest, said Wednesday there’s no meeting like that on her agenda.
“Not in regards to Boulder Junction,” she said, although she also said that could change in the coming weeks. “We just closed a comment period regarding a variance to the master plan to include ATVs and UTVs in the St. Germain, Sayner/Star Lake and Woodruff to Arbor Vitae area.”
That online public comment period ended Aug. 16 and Pearson said the results of that input is being assessed and summarized and will be forwarded to the DNR’s board of directors for any final decision on that variance.
She also reiterated the DNR isn’t looking to force anything on anyone and encourages towns and ATV/UTV clubs to work together.
“We want to be partners in this,” Pearson said. “What we prefer is a township and local ATV club work together to bring forth a proposal.”
She said the variance that was the subject of the online public comment is “exactly what happened.”
“The townships and the clubs worked together to bring us a proposal and we went from there,” Pearson said.
“It was talked about at the meeting (Tuesday),” Reuss said Wednesday. “I’m gonna put it on next month’s meeting agenda to see where we’re at and see where we want to go with this.”
Brian Jopek may be reached via email at [email protected]