Straighten up, or the ATV trails close
FORT KENT –The recent vandalism of the new soccer field at Riverside Park in Fort Kent, along with numerous reports of young people driving ATVs at high speeds on trails and on residential streets, has prompted law enforcement and the local ATV club to say “enough is enough.”
Fort Kent ATV Club President Danny Nicolas said he will shut down all trails in the Fort Kent region to ATV traffic, and Fort Kent Police Chief Kenneth Michaud said he will impound the vehicles of ATV riders who drive dangerously.
On Wednesday morning, town officials discovered that someone had used an ATV to cause extensive damage to the newly built soccer field at Riverside Park. An unknown person or persons spun the tires of an ATV to form large looping gouges in the surface of the field.
The police station has also received numerous calls, many more than they typically receive during the ATV season, from people reporting young riders speeding and driving recklessly on and off trails, speeding past pedestrians, and driving on residential streets.
In separate interviews, Fort Kent ATV Club President Danny Nicolas and Fort Kent Police Chief Kenneth Michaud both said they are going to put pressure on young ATV drivers to straighten up or the riders will face severe consequences.
Nicolas said, “If silly stuff like this does not cease, trails will be closed, either by the club, or by the landowner, or both.”
Michaud said, “It’s the young ones. We’re just going to have to impound the ATVs.”
Michaud and Nicolas, who are both strong advocates for summer and winter recreational vehicles, say that the reckless drivers are hurting the sport for everyone. The thoughtless drivers are prompting some landowners to reconsider whether they will allow trails to cross their property. Michaud said, “I’ve had some landowners call me and say, if that’s the way it’s going to be, then I’m shutting it all off.”
Referring to the vandalism in the park, Nicolas said, “It’s stunts like these that cause other property owners to restrict access to their land.”
Nicolas said, “We need people to respect what we have.”