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Lewis officials close ATV trail in Houseville for time being

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LOWVILLE — Lewis County officials have shut down a vital link in their all-terrain vehicle trail system because of landowner concerns, although they hope somehow to resolve the matter.

The problem is with an off-road trail segment off Houseville Road in the town of Turin.

“As is, this is our only link between Tug Hill and Brantingham,” said Legislature Chairman Michael A. Tabolt, R-Croghan.

Mr. Tabolt, who has been serving as acting trail coordinator, reported at Tuesday’s legislative Economic Development Committee meeting that county and ATV club officials did repair work to the trail following last month’s Snirt Run. However, one of the landowners, Benjamin Szalach, recently complained about dust and reportedly put a cable across the trail, even though there is some question whether he truly owns the right-of-way on the long-abandoned railroad bed it follows, Mr. Tabolt said.

Mr. Tabolt said he also spoke with another landowner, Kurt Linsenmaier, by telephone from Pennsylvania, and Mr. Linsenmaier, owner of the Old Church Inn bed and breakfast, suggested he also may want the trail closed after hearing about reported Snirt damage and complaining of some past issues.

To be on the safe side, legislative committee members suggested “trail closed” signs be put up until those issues are resolved, if possible.

Mr. Tabolt said he plans to meet this weekend with Mr. Linsenmaier when he returns to the area and hopes to show him all of the work that was done on the trail.

“I think Kurt will be impressed,” said Joseph Z. Onyon, president of the Tug Hill Adirondack ATV Association, adding that he may have received misleading information on the extent of damage.

Incoming Trail Coordinator Jacqueline L. Mahoney, who attended Tuesday’s meeting despite not officially taking the post until next week, suggested she also would be available to meet with the landowner.

The trail in question takes riders from Houseville Road to a spot where they are able to cross Route 12 onto Morgan Gulf Road. No other legal Route 12 crossings are now available to ATV riders.

Mr. Onyon said a bridge installed initially for snowmobile traffic has sagged, causing some drainage issues, so fixing that may be part of a compromise solution. Rerouting the trail also may be an option.

Mr. Tabolt said he has handled other ATV trail issues over the past month or so, but “this is the one I haven’t been able to deal with.”

Committee members on Tuesday also supported a request from Mr. Onyon to have the county, rather than the ATV Association, cover the $465 cost for 21 ATV permits donated to Fort Drum so soldiers can access the county trail system on post-owned machines. Approval was made contingent on being able to do so legally.

And they agreed to use permit money to cover the Lewis County Chamber of Commerce’s nearly $1,000 in outstanding payments for this year’s ATV maps, with the intent that the chamber reimburse the county through sale of the maps.

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