Sunday, May 31, 2020

Tomah council tables ATV/UTV request

In an issue connected to Tomah's Fourth of July parade, discussion over a proposal to allow ATVs/UTVs in Tomah's parade generated its own fireworks at Committee of the Whole and the Tomah council meeting.

At question was a request from the Bear Bluff ATV Club and Road Runners ATV/UTV Club of Monroe County for a three hour window to open Tomah streets for its Fourth of July parade.

During Committee of the Whole the request ended in a 4-4 deadlock, which results in denial of the request

Alders Jeff Cram, Donna Evans, Lamont Kiefer and mayor Mike Murray voted in favor at Committee of the Whole. Richard Yarrington, Sue Holme, Shawn Zabinski and Mary Ann Komiskey voted against. Alderman Travis Scholze was absent from the meeting. He was also absent from the council meeting, out of town due to work.

Scholze's absence came into play Tuesday night.

The proposed entry route is west of County Highway ET to Industrial Avenue south to Townline Road to Glendale Avenue to the parade staging area. There were units in the 2018 parade, but owners trailered them to Tomah. By creating the interim route more operators would be willing to drive in the parade, said Gary Everts of the Bear Bluff club, who was at Committee of the Whole.

If approved, one resident who spoke against, said the parade is merely a sample case for a permanent ordinance.

Bob Kersten likened the request to a "Trojan horse" maneuver, adding it would set a bad precedent and create a safety hazard during a busy holiday. Kling and Holme shared Kersten's concerns.

ATV/UTV advocates have been seeking approval for a route around Tomah for the past couple of years without success.

Said Komiskey, "I don't see how (a large number of ATVs/UTVs) would enhance the parade."

The issue rested until Tuesday night. During council discussion Murray said following the Monday Committee of the Whole he posted an informal question on Facebook to gauge "the pulse" of public support for approval of the route for ATV/UTV operators to drive to the parade. The result, 227 in favor, three against.

Murray's social media poll did little to sway opposition on the council and from two residents in attendance.

Holme and Komiskey insisted Murray's social media poll held no weight with a final decision. Nellie Pater and Wayne Kling both asked to comment. Murray denied their request citing the time for public comment is at the start of council meetings.

When both attempted to speak Murray threatened to have both removed from council chambers by police escort. After emotions calmed a motion was made to table action until the June council meeting. The motion passed 6-1 with Komiskey opposed, citing the council has voted against ATV/UTV operation on city streets and the issue should be put to rest.

Council members encouraged to seek input from constituents. It was also noted a full council should be in attendance in June.

After the meeting Kling repeated his opposition is driven by the potential liability risk for the city.

Stay tuned.


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