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Public hearing sought on ATV route
Times photo: Anthony Wahl Alex Landen, 15, rides his ATV through town on the way to get gas Monday night in Monroe. City officials are set to weigh public opinion on a propsed new ATV route.

MONROE - The City Council's Public Safety Committee wants a public hearing on a proposed, all-terrain vehicle route that takes riders through the downtown central business district and then east toward the Green County fairgrounds for camping.

"It seems such an easy thing to do to increase tourism in this city for a group that loves their sport," said Committee Chairman Michael Boyce. "I don't see a downside, except complaints."

Committee members opted for a public hearing on the matter, because the route runs through some residential areas. They also are seeking a one-year review of the route.

The route will be limited to all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and utility terrain vehicles (UTVs). Dirt bikes, which are allowed on the trail but deemed to be nosier, will not be allowed on the city route.

Members of the Green County ATV Club asked the city in June to explore the possibility of allowing access to the fairgrounds, after their survey indicated riders wanted camping in the Monroe area.

"Access to the fairgrounds is essential, because there is no place else to go (camping) in the area," said Charles Koch, committee member.

Currently, the closest campsites for ATV riders on the Cheese Country Trail - with a trailhead in Monroe - are in Browntown, Gratiot or Darlington, in Lafayette County.

Mary Whitehead, the club's president, said the survey also indicated that riders highly favored closer access to downtown Monroe.

Currently, ATV routes are limited to the west side of the city, with access to fuel, food and hotels.

"They prefer even downtown, if the fairgrounds is a problem," Whitehead said.

The committee, in June, had requested a map of a proposed route from Al Gerber, city engineer supervisor, and Police Chief Fred Kelley. They presented a route with options Monday.

Committee members preferred the "red" route on the color-coded map, which brings riders off of the end of the current city ATV route at 21st Street east of Wis. 69 to 8th Avenue; and then north to 19th Street; east to 13th Avenue; north to 17th Street; east to 14th Avenue; north to 12th Street; east to 25th Avenue; north to 10th Street and east into the fairgrounds.

A south leg of the red route begins at the Green County Welcome Center and follows 6 1/2 Avenue and 6th Avenue to 30th Street and Wis. 69.

One major route option would take riders on 11th and 12th Street; and another onto the 8th and 9th Street corridor.

The red route has a several variations that would keep riders off 13th Avenue, which is a busy street, according to Gerber.

Signs will be needed to indicate the route and direct riders, said Kelley. A method of paying for the new signage will be determined at a later date, he added.

The council is expected to set a date of Aug. 16 for the hearing.