City government, commerce and tourism leaders are trying to fast-track a plan establishing ATV routes and rules in the City of Rice Lake. The ordinance, which is not completely drafted, is likely to be considered by the City Council as early as next month. Members of a committee formed to establish the ordinance have touted ATV routes as a major tourism booster. However, the proposed street route extending from the Wild Rivers Trail connects to just one hotel, one gas station and a few taverns or restaurants. ATV riders, of course, do not seek out paved streets for riding, especially ones that do not bridge other remote trails. This raises the question of how much can really be gained from more access in the city. It should be noted that the proposed route, which impacts just a small residential stretch of Macauley Avenue, could be a sort of test run for more routes in the rest of the city, which is by and large more residential. Additional routes would magnify impact in both economics and quality of life for residents. Some residents will be annoyed, while others will be pleased that they can take their own machines right onto the route without using trailers. Not all residents will have ATV traffic on their street, but nearly all may have to share road space when driving. In recent years the city has added sidewalks and paved trails to separate bikes and pedestrians from cars, improving safety. Now another mode of transportation could be thrown in the mix. The routes create expenses, too, especially if the city decides to build a temporary route just north of Allen Street while an agreement to add a small rail right of way to the Wild Rivers is worked out between the railroad and Department of Natural Resources. Do the positives and negatives balance out? Citizen feedback will help shed light on that question. A public meeting will be announced soon. Residents with concerns, those hoping to benefit and citizens who want more information should all make their voices heard.
[The editorials that appear weekly in this space are the views of the newspaper as determined by The Chronotype's editorial board. All editorials are written by one or more members of the board, which consists of Warren Dorrance, Sam Finazzo, Ryan Urban and Eileen Nimm.]