Prospects emerge for public ATV trails

08/19/2010 12:00 AM |


Eric Scott, owner of these 42 acres in Calverton, says friends and family have been using ATVs for free for 10 years at his property, where he is seeking to build water sports facilities. He has applied for DEC permits in an effort to commercialize the ATV trails while building two lakes for water skiing.

As the quest to find a space large enough for legal public ATV riding trails continues, one motorsports enthusiast suggested a Riverhead site he says would be perfect for ATV riding — the former town dump.

Marty Johnson, president of the Long Island Motorsports Association, said the capped Youngs Avenue landfill fits the bill for ATVs because the land is already environmentally disturbed land and offers acres of space for riders.

“I know guys that would be willing to pay to come in there,” he said. “If someone stood there and collected $20, [the town] wouldn’t know what to do with the money.”

But Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter quickly shot the idea down, explaining that ATVs would ruin the $8 million plastic cap the town installed on the now-closed landfill in 2009 to prevent rain from carrying pollutants into the groundwater. Instead, the area has been designated for walking and biking trails. “There are very few uses for the landfill,” Mr. Walter said.

As reported in last week’s News-Review, it’s been five years since Suffolk County formed a task force to investigate the need and feasibility of building a designated and controlled space for off-road trails. The task force found that such a location would be a revenue source for the county and would lower the number of people who ride illegally on environmentally sensitive land.

In the meantime, a Port Jefferson man has been seeking approval from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to build an ATV track, as well as two man-made lakes for water skiing, on 42 acres he owns at the Enterprise Park at Calverton.

Eric Scott, owner of a project called Island Water Sports, said he wants to construct the tracks in an area where he said his family and friends have been riding for years.

Though his facility, if ever built, would be for-profit, it would be the only commercial operation open to the public in Suffolk County — save for a small trail in East Quogue where safety courses are offered by a nonprofit group of ATV advocates.

“We’ve been riding back there for 10 years,” Mr. Scott said of his Calverton property. “All it’s going to do is commercialize it.”

According to county law, a person can operate an ATV only on private property that he or she owns, or with the owner’s written consent. Illegal riding carries a penalty of up to $250 for first-time offenders and vehicles can be impounded.

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