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State Rep. Seeks Creation of ATV Trails in CT

With no legal ATV trails in Connecticut, state Rep. Anthony D'Amelio proposed bills pertaining to the recreational vehicles and how to generate funds for trail maintenance.

Ten years ago, state Rep. Anthony D'Amelio, R-74, bought two all-terrain (ATV) vehicles for himself and his son. But in order to legally ride them, they had to go to Massachusetts.

"There are no legal ATV trails in the state of Connecticut," he said. "We were forced to register our ATVs in Massachusetts because there's lots of trails there, but you have to register."

Eventually, D'Amelio, who represents Middlebury and Waterbury in the Connecticut House of Representatives, bought dirt bikes.

"It was too hard to go to Massachusetts whenever we wanted to ride," he said. "There are a lot of trails in Connecticut for dirt bikes, but not ATVs."

D'Amelio recently introduced two bills to the Connecticut General Assembly:

On Jan. 10, the bills were referred to the Joint Committee on Environment. Both proposed bills are attached to this article as PDFs.

This isn't the first time D'Amelio proposed bills pertaining to ATVs in Connecticut. He said in the past, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection didn't support the bill due to not having the funds to maintain the trails.

"That's where the registration comes in," he said.

Requiring Connecticut residents to register their ATVs for $30 means those fees can go toward trail maintenance, said D'Amelio. Trails already exist in the state that could be suitable for ATV-riding, he said.

"It's high time the state of Connecticut recognizes that a lot of ATVs out there are driven illegally because there's no legal place to drive them," he said. "I'd like to stop that."

Hinkley February 25, 2013 at 03:40 PM
1. When I said ATVs are illegal, I meant they are illegal on trails in Connecticut. I thought that was clear because that's what the article is about. 2. "Read the story again....slow this time." I think you are a contributor to the negativity. You want something from the public, but you attempt to insult people who disagree with your stance. Do you think that approach will work? (By the way, it should read "slowly", not "slow".) 3. You know what would impress me? You want trails. How about working for them. How about endearing us to the off-trail riders. There have been two incidents this past year of off-trail riders trashing school sports fields. How about the riders get together with a public awareness campaign? How about the riders put in effort to find out who did it? Rather than just coming on here and saying you want fields, how about earning our trust and respect. Then I for one would be much more agreeable to allowing ATVs in the woods legally. Just my opinion.
Sean Goulart February 25, 2013 at 03:58 PM
@hinkley - Sorry you feel that way but we are all big kids here and it's very hard to tell people's inflection when they write. I think you made it very clear as to your stance, all negativity included. When trails are designated for riding, then the trail groups will maintain them accordingly, see Thomaston Dam as a great example.There are riders clubs such as the Pathfinders in Thomaston who do exactly what you are talking about and the same will occur if they are on state land. When you say off road trail riders trashing the school sports fields...can you site the article, I have not seen that. I was aware that 4WD vehicles (SUV, car, truck) had caused these. This would have no correlation to the vehicles the article speaks of. And maybe if there were some legal options available then the community wouldn't have issues such as you are citing here. I'd like to see the evidence that they were "off road trail riders" on ATV's. I'm not "coming on here saying I want fields" - when did I say that? Riders and a public awareness campaign? Maybe that's what's started here with this article. I'm very familiar with this issue. I've made my career in the motorsports business and I can see how you could misconstrue the intentions here. But let me assure you off-roaders want to ride in peace, they don' t want to ruin anyone else's enjoyment, we want to co-exist and enjoy or recreation with our friends and family.
Siwanoy February 25, 2013 at 05:15 PM
if laws aren't working, they need to be fixed. People clearly don't want to be walking on a trail and have an ATV come up on them, people on an ATV don't want to riding on a trail and come up on a pedestrian. It's not safe, and it seems that the reason for the law is safety. Law(s) state that people with ATV's can't ride on trails, but it still happens. So we still have an unsafe situation. To make it safer we could A) increase the punishment for illegal riders or B) create a way for ATVers to legally ride
Sean Goulart February 25, 2013 at 05:30 PM
One of the other relevant issues is that CT charges taxes and registration fees for these machines but there is no where to ride them? What are the registration fees for? It's my understanding that it's in the DEP mandate to provide such areas and that the reg fees were to supposed to help pay for that. But like so many other things, they've been sucked up by the general fund. Why charge a registration fee?
Hinkley February 25, 2013 at 06:26 PM
Maybe the fees help offset the damage caused by the illegal riders.
Sean Goulart February 25, 2013 at 06:33 PM
That's not true at all and in my opinion a very snide thing to say. What illegal damage are you speaking of and when does the state pay to have this damage repaired? When you say off road trail riders trashing the school sports fields...can you site the article, I have not seen that. I was aware that 4WD vehicles (SUV, car, truck) had caused these. This would have no correlation to the vehicles the article speaks of.
Hinkley February 25, 2013 at 06:34 PM
Were they ATVs causing the damage on our sports feilds? I don't know. I wasn't there. But it is all semantics to me. Someone was off-roading in some kind of vehicle and causing damage. Your response is to reward the off-roading community with trails. My response is to not reward people under those circumstances. To the other poster's point. I think much of the thinking is about safety. But it is also about quality of life. I don't think it is simply a matter of setting up ATV trails separate from other trails, to keep people safe. It is also about people who live within a mile or two of the trails. They will be able to hear the roaring engines while sitting in their backyards.. That's not fair to the average homeowner.
Sean Goulart February 25, 2013 at 06:40 PM
I've looked it up for you and as I suspected you haven't a clue about what happened. It wasn't ATV damages - it was damage by typical soccer mom SUV which has absolutely nothing to do with ATV's and isn’t relevant to the conversation, never mind the fact that you used it to further your baseless allegations against the off-road community. It reminds me of when you see people who post that nonsensical anti-Obama stuff on Facebook, it's always disproved by Snopes but they cling to it anyway. Here is the link to the story: http://www.theridgefieldpress.com/5894/fields-of-damage-vandals-rip-up-soccer-sites/
Sean Goulart February 25, 2013 at 06:42 PM
To constantly compare damage done by a motor vehicle to a school field - when the two have no relevance, just seems ignorant to me. Why further your point with this type of argument, it's just silly. Facts are facts - let's stick to them. As I said before, maybe I am not being clear enough - why is this so hard for you to understand? But let me assure you off-roaders want to ride in peace, they don' t want to ruin anyone else's enjoyment, we want to co-exist and enjoy or recreation with our friends and family.
Hinkley February 25, 2013 at 07:20 PM
Wow, you have a strange way of trying to win people over. You want something from me and the public, and you think insults are the way to get it. Keep going and tell me how that works out for you. But before you continue, a point of clarification. I never said the damage was caused by ATVs. I said it was caused by off-road riders. The picture you provide in your link proves I am correct. Look at all the tire tracks on the field. This was caused by vehicles. People driving off-road caused damage. And I don't care what kind of vehicles caused the damage. People driving off-road did this and I don't feel like rewarding the entire off-road community with access to open space if this is how some riders behave. I would worry they will trash the open space just like they trashed the sports field. Hopefully you can see that point.
Sean Goulart February 25, 2013 at 07:30 PM
That's ridiculous and a common grade school debating tactic. You've shown you are in opposition and nothing will satisfy you. I don't seek something from you at all, I expect you to vote against anything in this regard, and you don't represent anyone but yourself, so that's one less vote I suppose. And to clarify again, just when someone in a SUV drives on a school field, there is no correlation to the topic at hand and you would be well-served to let go of it as a point of contention, as its not pertinent. There is nothing to suggest that this was caused by anyone in the off-roading community or "riders" as you call them and by hanging your hat on that you just seem even more ignorant. What you really should do is just stand up and state your true agenda. I suspect it would be to ban ATV's from any riding opportunities, that seems to be where your heart is.
Hinkley February 25, 2013 at 07:40 PM
I think semantics are holding back this conversation. To me, a person riding off the road and on the fields and trails is an "off-road rider". Maybe to you it means something different. I'm afraid I am not part of the motor world, so I don't know if the terms means something very specific to you. Tell me this, do motorized dirt bikes fall into your definition of "off-road rider"? Meaning, if the damage had been caused by motorized dirt bikes, would you consider them to be part of the off-road community?
Sean Goulart February 25, 2013 at 07:53 PM
Off road riders are not people in SUV's careening out onto high school athletic fields. In the case of this article, ATV are all-terrain vehicles. They are not legal for use on the public roads, they are for motorized recreation - although any people own them and use them for duties such and snowplowing and hauling wood, etc. People who ride motorcycles off road are also called off-road riders but in CT they are much more organized than the ATV community and actually ride in a legal area, devoid of complaints from neighbors, and they maintain the trails with no monies from the state. We pay registration fees but the area provided in Federal land and so none of our registration monies help maintain the trails. This example is Thomaston Dam and is a prime example of how this all can work and everyone can get what they want (and what they paid for). It's not fair to compare irresponsible persons in SUV's tearing up a field to what ATV enthusiasts want. ATV advocates just want a place to ride legally and they are willing to pay for it. No one wants to disturb anyone's privacy. I wouldn't want it next to my home, but there are plenty of parcels of state land that could be devoted to this without being a burden on anyone's enjoyment. We all need to try to give a little.
Hinkley February 25, 2013 at 08:26 PM
So these motorized dirt bikes are part of the off-road community? Because that's what caused the second incident in RIdgefield a few months ago. Dirt bikes on an elementary school field. I just don't feel like rewarding anyone with that mindset. You say that ATV owners just want a place to ride and are willing to pay for it. Okay, then why not get the entire group together and purchase a parcel of private land. Wouldn't that be the most fair thing to do? You want to ride, you pay for it. In full. You say, "We all need to try to give a little." Why do the rest of us need to give a little? It's your hobby, not mine. Why do I have to contribute by giving up the open space?
Sean Goulart February 25, 2013 at 08:39 PM
In regards to the damage to the baseball field, these were juveniles who were breaking the law and were caught and punished. These are common vandals and do not represent the off-road community in any way. If someone drives drunk and crashes their car, we don't ban cars do we? It's exactly the same thing. And ATV enthusiasts already are paying for a place to ride. The registration fees are supposed to help the DEP establish a riding area, but those funds are being sucked up by the general fund. Now - that's the third time I've had to state this point to you. I go to the trouble to read what you post and I try to be sincere in my answers, why can't you do the same? It's common courtesy when debating. Also, when commenting, you don't actually represent "the rest of us" - you only represent yourself and your views.
Hinkley February 25, 2013 at 09:47 PM
The "vandals" don't represent the off-road community? That's convenient. With the first incident, you blame it on soccer moms and their SUVs. lol! Now in the second incident, which was clearly an off-road vehicle, you somehow know them and can say with certainty that they aren't associated with the off-roading community in any way... even though they were on off-road vehicles. Amazing how you have the facts working out in your favor. "If someone drives drunk and crashes their car, we don't ban cars do we? It's exactly the same thing. " It's exactly the same thing? Okay, going with your analogy, it would be like saying people drive drunk, so we should build them their own roads. Is that what we should do, build drunk drivers their own roads? Route 7 and then Drunk Route 7? It's your analogy. People drive ATVs illegally, so we should build them their own trails. "And ATV enthusiasts already are paying for a place to ride. " I don't think so. You pay a fee of $35. $5 goes to pay for the license plate. $10 goes to clean the air from the ATVs pollution. So you contribute $20. Do you think $20 is enough to purchase, say, Bennetts Farm for $12 million? How many ATV enthusiasts would use Bennetts Farm? 100? Then your fee should be $120,000 each. Not $20.
Hinkley February 25, 2013 at 09:53 PM
See this is my problem. Your particular hobby requires large tracts of land. And you want me and everyone else to pay for it. Collectively the residents paid $12,000,000 for Bennetts Farm and look how it has turned out. No one can walk on the land from September to January because hunters are there. Now ATV enthusiasts would like the land (or some some other state land) for their own trails, meaning again no hikers. That would be from when to when? Another six months of the year? See how that's working out? The rest of us paid for the land, but we don't really get to use it. It is instead allocated for a handful of special interests groups. What a sweet deal that is for the special interest groups. They get what they want and everyone else pays for it.
Eileen February 26, 2013 at 01:10 AM
Thank you for that Hinkley. You brought up some major points I meant to mention earlier. And that is very true of Bennetts Farm. We paid a tidy sum for that and "we" can hardly use it.
Dean Hyman February 27, 2013 at 10:23 PM
http://www.cga.ct.gov/2011/pub/chap447.htm#Sec23-26c.htm Sec. 23-26c. Availability of state land for use by persons operating all-terrain vehicles. The Commissioner of Environmental Protection shall evaluate the properties under his jurisdiction and the jurisdiction of other state agencies for their use by persons operating all-terrain vehicles and shall make available some of such properties for such use. In making such properties available the commissioner shall consider minimizing the impact of all-terrain vehicles on the environment. Before making any property available that is under the jurisdiction of another state agency, the commissioner shall consult with such agency. (P.A. 86-249, S. 3.)
Sean Goulart February 28, 2013 at 12:19 AM
What Dean has posted is the mandate that DEP has to evaluate areas for potential riding. That has never happened. But we pay for it, and that's not right, whether you ride or not. And why mention Bennett's Farm? No one in their right mind would consider proposing to ride ATV's there. I don't know how that got into the conversation.
Dean Hyman February 28, 2013 at 11:48 AM
Public Act 86-249, S.3. - signed into law in on June 4 1986. It has gone ignored for over two and a half decades. The failure of the Commissioner to comply with this forces people to ride unsanctioned trails. We ride where we hope we won't bother anybody, and nobody will bother us. I'm a 52 year old dirt biker with a great respect for other people's property rights. As you might imagine, finding such places has gotten harder over the decades. So difficult, in fact, that I've been essentially forced onto the motocross track, in my fifties. The average dirt biker is much older and more sophisticated than the stereotypical punk doing donuts on the ball field. People have been ripping up lawns with cars ever since Og invented the wheel. Attempts to equate the two issues just shows how misunderstood the sport is. Off road recreation is a family activity that creates great bonds, memories and a confidence you can't get by catching a ball. People who think the Representative is being selfish for wanting riding spots, because he enjoys the sport - those people are equally selfish, hating the idea because they don't enjoy the sport. The reality is that a wealthy Fairfield County town with high property values is not going to welcome ATV trails. There are mathematical reasons and sociological reasons for that. There are, however, some pretty depressed parts of the state, with much more open space, who might benefit from the economic activity generated by a recreation destination.
Social worker March 11, 2013 at 03:54 AM
I agree. A CL&P right of way abuts my backyard. It was like a race track ever since we moved in. $1000 fines or confiscate these ATVs would have been my idea of legislation!
Social worker March 11, 2013 at 04:02 AM
Tell that to the 8-10 people driving on the CL&P right of way, every weekend, all weekend, in the summer until midnight some nights. Off roaders don't care about what the neighbors say. There are plenty of news links to illegal acts or deaths. Google it and see.
Social worker March 11, 2013 at 04:06 AM
The fees should go to provide local police depts with their own ATVs. The fines for trespassing or not registering ATVs should be $1000 or confiscate the machine.
Social worker March 11, 2013 at 04:10 AM
A mile or two? The ATVs are literally a few hundred feet from my back yard. We were having my kid's bday party last year and at least 10 of these rude SOBs drove by, revving away like crazy. Follow the right of way north into the rich community and they have concrete barriers and tougher laws. I havent heard anything like what we have here in CT!
Social worker March 11, 2013 at 04:14 AM
Go to the hartford courant website and put ATV into their search engine. More than enough negative stuff to keep you busy.
Social worker March 11, 2013 at 04:19 AM
As long as you keep them out of Enfield i will be happy. Bad enough we have to deal with these bums doing illegal riding in our back yards.
christian soto July 08, 2013 at 09:41 AM
maybe we wouldn't annoy you and others if we had a legal place to ride. but until that day you will continue to hear me up and down your road. you complaint about noises but what about the damn choppers with their loud ass exhaust and yet again legal. we have the same right as everyone else. is like they complaint on street racing but then again thay close ct drags so what other choice we have illegal street race. Seems all you people support is the drunks which kill more and do more damage and yet again more bars are open constantly. you are all sick no wonder the youth is the way it is.
Eric Djamjian April 05, 2014 at 03:04 PM
We need some legal trails or at least let us ride on open space now I don't know about everyone else but my group and I are respectable and tread light whatever we bring in we carry out soda cans ciggarette butts etc are always brought out with us when we see people walking on the trail we slow down and give them right away instead of way. We should be able to use the same trails people use to walk but keeping in mind the tread lightly rule. I shouldn't have to load up my quad and drive either out of or halfway across the state to enjoy some riding its not fair to me or others in the ATV community we are humans to not lepars that have to be stuffed into a trail way out in the sticks I understand that there residential properties around and at certian hours the noise is unacceptable but on a Saturday or Sunday in the late morning to the afternoon we should be able to ride. I know there are bad apples in the bunch that litter and leave garbage everywhere but not my group we also pickup whatever trash that we find that is not ours. Its time to end the feud and let us ride in peace we spent thousands of dollars on are machines and we are not going anywhere. We are just trying to enjoy are hobby in peace with our family and freinds just like you are trying to enjoy yours
Sean Goulart April 07, 2014 at 09:53 AM
This article should never have appeared here for a few reasons: 1) There is NO WAY anyone would propose a riding area in Ridgefield or anywhere even close. Everyone knows it's too small, houses too close together, etc. to make sense for that. So why post it here where people get all wound up about it? 2) It's the state's responsibility to provide the trails to taxpaying citizens and should be paid for with the registration fees for the ATV's. But Ct wants that $$$ for other things, and the ATV population is small, so they get shut out. 3) This so called "State Representative" has done a completely ineffectual job on this effort. In fact, I have contacted his office and left messages on 2 occasions with no call back. He doesn't represent the off-road community at all. This was doomed form the start.

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