Unhappy trails: Charlestown select board hears OHRV rider complaints

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In addition to its other business, the select board heard a complaint from an off-road vehicle enthusiast at its meeting Wednesday night. 

Dave Davis used the public comment portion of the meeting to ask what the select board had determined about letting off-highway recreational vehicles (OHRVs) use town roads. The issue was brought up at town meeting. 

“We're not going to pursue it because so many people voted No,” said selectman Thomas Cobb. 

Davis asked about Lamb Road, referring to a resident who owns land on both sides of the road but can't ride his OHRV on it. 

“I don't think we can open up one individual road without causing trouble,” said Cobb. 

“I wanted to open up designated roads to OHRVs, but it's got to be done correctly,” he continued. “To let OHRVs on the road it would take a couple individuals dedicated to doing it correctly; marking the roads, developing a trail system, buying signage. The state will give you $250 to start an OHRV club — you've got to get a club involved.” 

“There is a club,” said Davis. “It's Sullivan County's club, which does absolutely nothing for anybody outside of Claremont.” 

Board members explained that OHRV clubs maintain a trail system as well as having insurance for their members and policing the trails. 

“If we just selectively open up a road, enforcement falls to the police department,” said Selectman Steve Neill. “Fish and Game won't do it anymore.” 

Police Chief Pat Connors said it would affect more than his department: “The ambulance and fire department would need more equipment. God forbid anybody had an accident out there in the wilderness. We have no way to get to them and get them out.” 

Davis, for his part, said he has a date to go before a judge due to being caught riding on a Class VI road.

In other business, the highway department has been paving roads: Judland Heights, Cardinal Lane, and Scenic Lane are done. With the 620 tons of asphalt they have left, they will get to Roberts Road, Taylor Hill, and Breakneck Hill Road. 

Highway Superintendent Keith Weed noted that the price of asphalt has gone up $2.88 per ton since the last time they bid on it. 

“We're still dealing with flood problems,” he reported. “Friday night we had a fair number of trees down.”

The “dry bridge” connecting Main Street to Bridge Street needs new decking. “The boards are getting punky,” said Weed. “I asked an engineer to come look at it, give me a quote back and a projection of the future of what that road will require. Once I hear from him, we'll get a deck on in a day or two.”

Select board member Albert St. Pierre reminded him that the primary is Sept. 13 and that bridge is a major access route. Weed said the town doesn't own the bridge, the railroad does. 

“We've got use of it,” he said. 

The grader is out of commission, as a critical cylinder is bent. Weed said Caterpillar Inc. told him they don't have a replacement cylinder “anywhere in the world.” Nevertheless, the company called around and found a dealer in the Midwest who had one whole unit to be sold for parts, and Charlestown highway department can have the whole thing for $2,000. 

In police business, Connors questioned the way the dispatch system is being funded. Currently, the cost of the dispatch system is shared among the city departments, with 50 percent being the police department and the other 50 percent shared among other town services. 

“I'm all for it, but I wasn't part of that conversation,” said Connors. “We essentially wanted dispatch to have a whole separate budget. When we're looking at long term, what does it cost to dispatch Charlie [Baraly], we can market that to another town.” 

“This is a first step toward accomplishing what you're talking about,” said Neill. The select board said they started sharing out the costs of dispatch last year to take the burden off the police department, which had been solely responsible before. “We had nothing to work with last year.” 

Cobb reminded everyone that September is when the town starts looking at department budgets and encouraged Connors to prepare something. 

Fire Chief Baraly reported that the emergency services — police, fire and ambulance — were all invited out to Morningside Hang Gliding for a morning of fun, and said it was great that the company did that for them. 

“I've been working on an active-shooter policy to have ready for the fire department, ambulance, everybody,” said Baraly. 

The fire department is having trouble with its radio frequency. At the north end of Charlestown, the radio often picks up Claremont highway department instead. Also, sometimes it's just static or dead air. Claremont's highway frequency is close to the Charlestown fire department frequency. 

There was some discussion about getting Claremont to fix their system. However, since Claremont and Charlestown use the same provider, it was decided that the police chief could call the company, R & R, and have them look into it. 

In correspondence, Cobb reported that a letter had been received complaining about a lack of venues at the town-wide yard sale. Apparently the letter writer had not been able to get a good spot, or signage was lacking. 

“It's run by the Chamber of Commerce, and it's a nice thing to do in town, once a year,” said St. Pierre. “And it's not a Charlestown thing.” 

Accordingly, the select board put the letter aside. “There are worst catastrophes in town than not having a place to set up at yard sale,” said St. Pierre. 

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