Snowmobiles may be OK’d
Oak Creek Town Board may allow snowmobiles in town
Oak Creek — The town of Oak Creek is considering allowing snowmobile use on town streets this winter.
An ordinance to allow such a use was proposed at last week’s meeting of the Oak Creek Board of Trustees.
Driving snowmobiles is not legal under the town’s current ordinances, but several town trustees said that should change. State law gives towns the authority to deal with snowmobiles within the boundaries of their own municipality, Town Clerk Nancy Crawford said.
Requests have been made by several residents to allow the machines on town streets for various reasons.
One is that it’s inconvenient and unnecessary for residents who want to access nearby snowmobile trails to have to load their machines on a trailer to get there, Town Trustee J. Elliot said.
“It’s stupid for them to load up, then drive half a mile through town,” Elliot said. “I know there are a lot of towns that allow this. I don’t know why Oak Creek doesn’t.”
Elliot said that if the ordinance were written well, it could permit people to access trails without allowing them to ride back and forth across town to visit neighbors or pick up groceries, something that could create too much snowmobile noise and traffic in town.
“My intent in looking at this was not to allow them to run around town. It was to allow them to get out of town,” Elliot said.
Town Trustee Jim Eskridge said that the town has had problems with snowmobile use on town streets, and that “it got to be a mess.”
Oak Creek Chief of Police Tim Willert referred to dozens of complaints about snowmobile use that were made last year. Although police were enforcing the rule last year, people were upset by snowmobiles being ridden through town.
But, if responsible drivers were using the machines according to rules passed by the town, there might not be problems, he said.
“The problems that we had last winter were not with licensed drivers,” Willert said. “They were with unlicensed drivers.”
The problematic drivers often were speeding and not wearing helmets, he said.
Town trustees voicing their opinions seemed to agree that if an ordinance were well written, it could encourage responsible snowmobile use on town streets.
Such an ordinance probably would require that drivers be a certain age and have a license, drive at a slow speed when on town streets and choose the most direct route through town.
One issue the town would have to consider is the state law that snowmobiles are not allowed on interstate highways or freeways, such as U.S. Highway 40, which is Oak Creek’s Main Street.
The board of trustees looked at state laws concerning snowmobile use, as well as an ordinance permitting snowmobile use on town streets that was adopted by Frisco in 1991.
“Is there any way we can try it for a year?” Elliot asked. “We’re in the perfect location. People ought to be allowed to use their equipment.”
The board of trustees did not reach a formal agreement on the idea but decided to continue their discussion on allowing snowmobile use on town streets.
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Time seemed to stop for Matthew Engle for a few seconds after he heard crunching metal last week while he was in downtown Steamboat Springs.