Plea Made for ‘O.H.V.s’

    Martin Drew, a local resident who has been pressing East Hampton Town for years to allow all-terrain vehicles on public trails and to establish A.T.V. and motocross bicycle tracks, had his say before the town board on Tuesday.
    Announcing that he was now the head of a group called Long Island Sports, he said he might drop the quest to expand where motorized “off-highway vehicles” are permitted to focus solely on a site for motorized bicycle sports. Trails are now limited to walkers and bicyclists.
    Mr. Drew told the board that the group had four other members at present and was planning to become a nonprofit organization.  
    “We’ve talked about it among ourselves, with some of my most senior advisers,” he told the board.
    Mr. Drew said he would like to lease either 5 acres of town land for a bike course or 10 acres to include an A.T.V. track and perhaps other sports. He said he would have no trouble raising the $25,000 that might be required for a bicycling track, while a full-scale facility would cost between $50,000 and $3.5 million.
    “How popular is BMX [bicycle motocross]?” Supervisor Bill Wilkinson asked. Mr. Drew handed him a petition that he had circulated “back in the day,” which, he said, drew 400 to 500 supporters. The petition, to allow A.T.V.s on town trails, had been submitted to a town board nine years ago.
    “It had a lot of 14 and 15-year-olds’ signatures,” Mr. Drew said, but those kids have now grown up and have their own children seeking places to ride A.T.V.s.
    Mr. Wilkinson and other board members said they would not entertain the idea of a track for A.T.V. use, but agreed to consider a recreational facility for motocross bicycles. However, the supervisor said, “Part of the process is to show that there is a user group. We’re not going to fund something on the basis that five people are going to use that facility.”
     Councilwoman Julia Prince agreed. “I think the burden is on you, Martin, to bring us that user group,” she said. “I think that’s the place we stop every time.”
    Mr. Drew said he would poll schoolchildren to assess support once school is back in session. But, he told the board, “the place that we stop is, you’re trying to throw the O.H.V. community by the wayside,” using O.H.V. to signify off-highway” rather than all-terrain vehicles.
    He also complained that, in limiting the trail system to walkers and bicyclists, the town had “given away our resource.” As a boy and a younger man, he said, he freely rode miles of town trails.
    Councilman Pete Hammerle commented that the resource Mr. Drew referred to was private property. As the town sought to expand the trail system by obtaining easements across private property, he said, telling landowners that A.T.V.s would be zipping by would have killed the deal.
    With A.T.V.s off the table, “We as a board will look at properties that are appropriate” for bicycle sports, Councilwoman Theresa Quigley said. “You are going to get back to us with names. We as a board need to know we are doing something for a group that exists.”
    “I can prove that to you,” Mr. Drew said, adding, “BMX has just been accepted into the Olympic sporting genre.”