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Lake Tomahawk to get ATV survey

Residents will be asked their opinion about ATV/UTV use on town roads

February 18, 2020 by Brian Jopek

The Lake Tomahawk Town Board last week gave its blessing to have a survey taken that will ask residents what they think about the use of all-terrain vehicle and utility vehicle use on town roads. 
The meeting was roughly 20 minutes long, the discussion about the survey very brief and non-confrontational. 
In the audience were several members of the Lake Tomahawk ATV Club.

Original request 
The December town board meeting had a request from the club on its agenda.
In a letter to the town, the club requested 2.6 miles of Lakewood Road from Cassian to County Highway D be open to ATV and UTV traffic. 
“This 2.6 miles,” the letter stated, “would connect Nokomis ATV Club to Lakeland ATV Club trails.”
There was extensive discussion at that meeting that led to town chairman George DeMet’s feelings about the operation of ATVs and UTVs on town roads being known. 
At one point in that discussion, he said there had been, in the previous year, four ATV/UTV related fatalities in Oneida County. 
“Each one of those deaths occurred on a town road,” DeMet said. “That’s what bothers me.”
By the end of that discussion, however, the town board voted to send the request to the town’s planning commission. 
The planning commission, after another discussion with ATV club members, on Jan. 28 voted to send a recommendation to the town board that a survey be done essentially asking residents what their thoughts were about the use of town roads by ATVs and UTVs. 
Last Wednesday, apparently expecting some back and forth again with DeMet and his feelings regarding ATVs and UTVs on town roads, members of the ATV club showed up in force. 
Last week’s town board meeting was less than 20 minutes long and not quite 10 minutes of it was spent on the ATV/UTV survey recommendation from the planning commission. 
DeMet asked town supervisor Larry Hoffman, who’d attended the Jan. 28 planning commission meeting, for a summary of what occurred there. 
Hoffman told him the planning commission’s chairman, Steve Forrest, “wants to send postcards to everybody in town to see if they’re in favor of opening all the roads.”
“OK,” DeMet said. “Is that the way we should go? Do the survey?”
“I think so,” Hoffman said. “Steve thinks so.”
“OK,” DeMet said again. “You want to make a motion to that effect?”
Hoffman did and DeMet seconded. Town supervisor Stephanie Sowatzka was absent. 
“The ATV club volunteered to pick up the cost of it and send it out,” Hoffman said. 
“Well, I think this one should be on the plan commission,” DeMet said and called the question. 
Minutes later, the town board’s business being done, DeMet ended the meeting. 
“I guess we’re done,” he said. “This meeting is adjourned.”
Lake Tomahawk ATV Club president Barb Ehler asked if there was any public comment, something DeMet said was earlier in the meeting, but invited Ehler to say what she wanted. 
“First of all, I appreciate your time and your willingness for the Lake Tom ATV/UTV Club survey,” she said. “I want to point out and ask, first of all, how can we help?”
Ehler said she appreciated the town’s offer to absorb the cost. 
“We would like to help in any facet possible,” she said. “What is our time frame? As far as getting the survey out, getting it mailed out.”
“It’s in the hands of the plan commission now,” DeMet said. “It’s all in the hand of the plan commission. We have authorized them to go ahead and do the survey.”
“So, the planning commission is to take over,” Ehler said, wanting clarification.
“Yep,” DeMet said. “I would assume they would come back to us when they have a cost estimate and the question that they want to send out for approval. But, it’s in their hands right now.”
Brian Jopek may be reached via email at [email protected]

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