The discussion on whether and where to allow ATVs in Vilas County has drawn passionate crowds to town meetings throughout the fall. Last night was no exception. The debate between ATV and silent sport enthusiasts in Conover appears to have found a peaceable solution at Monday night’s town meeting.
The town of Conover has about three weeks to decide whether to accept federal funding to build a bike trail.
After Vilas County officials asked the town to allow ATVs on a short stretch of the silent sports and snowmobile trail, state officials have clarified that it’s too late for changes to the project proposal.
But DOT North Central Engineering Chief Brian Gaber says ATV groups could apply to build their own trail on the railroad grade, which is about a hundred feet wide.
He says ATV use would need to be separated from the silent sports portion.
The Conover town board is looking at options for allowing both ATVs and a bike trail downtown. At Wednesday night’s special meeting, town board members decided to sit down with the state Department of Transportation.
Federal funding lined up for the current trail plan would allow only non-motorized use in the summer, and snowmobiles in the winter.
Vilas County officials want the town to allow multiple uses, including ATV access, on part of the railroad grade near downtown Conover.
Town Supervisor Karl Jennrich says local business owners support a compromise.
Conover hasn’t yet decided whether to change course on its plan for a federally-funded bike and snowmobile trial.
The Conover Town Center was packed and tempers flared last night during a special town board meeting called to discuss allowing ATVs on part of the trail route.
An ATV trail in Conover would connect trails between Eagle River and Phelps. But silent sport enthusiasts were concerned that motorizing the trail would be a danger to bikers, pedestrians, and equestrians alike.
A biking and walking trail planned between Phelps and Conover is getting a financial boost. Great Headwaters Trails has gotten 90-thousand dollars to begin work on a 5 mile section between Phelps and Conover. Half of that is coming from the DNR. It’s being matched by money from state snowmobiling funds and Great Headwaters Trails.
But Great Headwaters Trails President Jeff Curry says trail construction is still not fully funded.