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Dexter council looks to open seven streets to ATVs

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DEXTER — In an effort to help town businesses and bring in more visitors, the Dexter Town Council is considering a proposed ordinance that would open seven town streets to ATVs. The amendment to the motor vehicle and traffic regulations was discussed during an April 19 meeting and was moved to a public hearing for the next meeting on Thursday, May 17.

Under the ordinance ATV use on the designated travelways would be determined annually by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, taking place each open day from 8 a.m. to dusk. Operation of an ATV would be with the flow of traffic in the travel land at the posted speed limit. For definition purposes, the Four Season Adventure Trail will be referred to as the “railroad bed” in the documentation.

The operation of ATVs would be allowed on seven public ways: Liberty Street from the railroad bed to Russ Street; Russ Street itself; Water Street from Liberty Street to the municipal parking lot on the south side of Main Street; Mill Street from Water Street ending at Spring Street; School Street from the railroad bed crossing Main Street to Center Street; Center Street from Main to Water Street; and Grove Street from the railroad bed to the municipal parking lot on the northside of Main Street.

Councilor Marcia Delaware asked about the inclusion of the the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

“That is the agency designated by the state to regulate traffic on the railroad bed, so we want to be in line with their regulations,” Town Manager Jim Chandler said.

He said an 11-member temporary ATV task force has worked for several months to help the council research what roads may be opened to ATVs, with the intention of helping community businesses and promoting economic development. The committee was formed several months after residents approved a non-binding question asking if they favored such a suggestion. The question narrowly passed 400 to 393 at the November referendum.

“We have researched the most logical way people would get to Spring Street and the municipal parking area by Spring Street,” Chandler said. “We really feel like we’ve done a good job providing access to all the existing businesses in the downtown area.”

“The idea was that it would be a pilot and you can repeal it at any time,” the town manager said about the proposed ATV ordinance.

“Thank you guys for putting that work in that,” Council Chair Michael Blake said in thanking the ATV task force.

Chandler said the committee has discussed the importance of ATV trail signs promoting the town. He said in other communities the ATV clubs sponsor and place the makers but with Dexter not having its own formal club the signs could be sponsored by local businesses. The town manager said he would bring forward an estimate for the sign costs to the May 17 public hearing.

“I think it’s a good thing, I think it’s coming anyway,” Councilor Fred Sherburne said.

“I think it’s a good thing for business,” Council Mark Robichaud added.

In his report Chandler said the owner of a dangerous building at 121 Main Street has been in town after traveling to Maine from Oklahoma.

“We are in a holding pattern, we are in almost daily communication with our attorney,” Chandler said.

Last month councilors passed a motion on the structure with the intention of finding a solution to the long-running issue of the dangerous building at 121 Main Street. The owner was given until March 21 to put $50,000 in escrow in account with the town at the Dexter Bangor Savings Bank to indicate she is planning to repair the structure — if not then demolition would proceed.

Chandler said CES was contacted by the owner to do an assessment of the property. A verbal report to Dexter Code Enforcement Officer Al Tempesta said this document mirrors the town’s assessment conducted by Plymouth Engineering.

“Basically the house is falling down, if you want to spend $150,000 to $200,000 some of it may be saveable, some of it is not saveable,” Chandler said about the pair of assessment findings.

He said Wyman Construction of Dexter has agreed to wait on starting the demolition. Last month the company was awarded the work bid for $5,800. The agreement said that should demolition start, the building would be torn down by June 30. The debris will be kept away from adjacent properties in order to be disposed of by the Dexter Fire Department.

“We took items out of her house that we deemed to have any value at all, they were stored in a secure location at the airport and she picked those up today,” Chandler said.

Councilors also heard from several members of Carter-Dulac Memorial VFW Post 4298 on a planned June 23 “Hot Rods for Heroes” car show.

“In June we are going to put on a car show in conjunction with Factory One, right in the Factory One parking plot,” VFW Post 4298 Commander David Iverson said.

Iverson said the event would be from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 23 at the 80 Water Street lot, with Saturday, July 7 as the rain date. He said a street dance would take place after the automobile exhibit concludes.

The VFW Post 4298 car show would include several competitions, such as exhaust contests, and when asked the council said there were no objections to any of these.

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