POLAND — Selectpersons agreed Tuesday night to allow the Bog Hooters Tri-Town ATV Club to use the abandoned railroad bed alongside the Waterhouse Park and Trail for a two-year trial starting May 15, 2020.

Club President Lou Annance requested access to the former Maine Central Railroad bed that was vacated in the 1940s. Riders could continue to Poland Corner Road and Aggregate Road, and cross Route 26 to the Lions Club building to reach Cyndi’s Dockside Restaurant.

Conservation Commission member Don Stover and Trails Committee President Alan Audet opposed the proposal, saying ATVs could impact Waterhouse Park, which includes two trails and is habitat to a variety of animals and vegetation.

The railroad bed is also a favorite walking trail, which includes the Waterhouse Brook Pedestrian Bridge that was recently completed and will be dedicated Oct. 25.

Conservation Commission Vice Chairman Barry Morgan said Bog Hooters members and the commission met last week and believed multiple uses of the railroad bed could be achieved if there are signs, self-policing and if Bog Hooters properly maintain the bed.

In a related decision, selectpersons approved the purchase and installation of safety rails on the Waterhouse Brook Pedestrian Bridge for $6,500, which will come from the Municipal Reserve Fund.

Town Manager Matthew Garside reported Tuesday night that he updated Megquier Hill residents on safety concerns that were brought up at last month’s selectpersons meeting.

Garside said he would not recommend requesting a speed study with the Maine Department of Transportation, explaining, “There is a chance that MDOT could raise the speed limit from its current 35 miles per hour.”

He also informed residents that radar signs that could take pictures of speeding offenders’ license plates are not authorized in the state of Maine. He said communities do post electronic devices that collect data as to date, time and speed, but they do not record license plates.

He noted such signs would require local funding; the state does not provide them.

Regarding changing current passing lanes on the road to no-passing lanes, Garside informed the Select Board that, “MDOT says their criteria for allowing a passing lane has nothing to do with speed, but does take into account sight lines.”

Garside added, “To remove a passing lane requires justification and extenuating circumstances.”

He told the board that the group of concerned residents could not come up with reasons that would assure that criteria.

Finally, according to Garside, MDOT officials said placement of additional signs on Megquier Hill Road would prove to be of little value since studies have shown that drivers tend to ignore multiple signs placed on a road or street.

At the Sept. 17 meeting, selectpersons moved to bring the question of providing  24/7 police coverage to voters at the annual town meeting in April. The town has coverage from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. from the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office.


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