RIDGWAY — Per the street committee’s recommendation, the Ridgway Borough Council will continue to discuss developing an ordinance authorizing dual-use of all-terrain vehicles on borough streets next week. Committee members weighed recommending the matter be tabled at a meeting at a heated Thursday night workshop.
Several Ridgway residents who have been pushing for the borough to adopt such an ordinance attended the workshop, criticizing council for not doing so already. Tom Fitch, who is affiliated with the Ridgway-Elk County Chamber of Commerce, had particularly harsh words for Councilman and Street Committee Member Keith Mader.
“You’re not a leader, Keith, you’re a follower,” Fitch said before storming out of the borough building.
Before leaving, Fitch told the street committee that he had received verbal commitments from business owners interested in relocating to Ridgway contingent on the borough’s enactment of an ATV ordinance. He and other chamber affiliates have previously said that dual-use would be the first step toward an off-road tourism initiative that they believe will bring new blood to the area.
Mader said that while he supports development in Ridgway, there is much to consider before opening up the borough’s streets.
“There’s a lot of people – residents of the borough, tax-paying citizens –who are writing letters of regret to the borough saying that ‘We do not wish this to take place on our streets,” Mader said. “We have to take them into consideration.”
Committee members rebuked claims that council hadn’t paid the matter due diligence. Displaying a partial sample ordinance he prepared, Borough Manager Paul McCurdy said that its language must take into account where ATVs may be operated and how they will be enforced.
The ordinance would not, for example, allow lawful ATV travel through major borough corridors like Route 219, which is owned and operated by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
Solicitor David Pontzer to suggested to Fitch and others present that documentation supporting their claims of businesses advocating for dual-use to council.