Calling them a nuisance to city residents and visitors alike, the Newburgh City Council has drafted a resolution that would ban off-road vehicles from public roads and public property as well as private property without the permission of the property owner.
A public hearing was held last week on the proposed local law, which comes after a wave of complains against off-road vehicles zipping along city streets and through places like Downing Park, creating a nuisance and posing a safety health and safety threat.
“We got grown ass men riding around the city like they’re 15, 16 years of age,” said Debra Danzi, who complained about the vehicles riding around Lake Street. “Somebody’s gonna end up in that lake.”
Others at the hearing concurred.
“These grown men out here that are weaving in and out of traffic,” said Tom Roberts. “Something has to be done.”
While most speakers agreed that something needs to be done, there was also some support for the operators of the ATVs.
“I’m from the city of Newburgh and I love dirt bikes,” said Aiden Grice, son of City Councilman Anthony Grice. He suggested that the city provide some safe place for them to ride.
“If we are going to take something away then we need to give them somewhere to ride,” agreed Ray Harvey. “We need to make sure that once we start taking things away, that there’s another avenue for them to go.”
Gabrielle Hill said she didn’t want to see people arrested for violating the law.
“Newburgh has always been a bike town,” said Hill. “Maybe we should have some educational classes.”
Mayor Torrance Harvey said no one would be incarcerated for violating the law, but warned that violators could face fines of having their bikes impounded. He suggested several places in which trails could be created for bikes, including Washington Lake and the path that currently connects People’s Park to Ward’s Brother’s Park, home of the Newburgh Rowing Club.
“Obviously I’m torn,” said Councilman Anthony Grice. “My child does own a dirt bike.”
“We’ve had this heated debate in my household. At the same time, I’ve had to do what’s in the best interest in the city of Newburgh.”
Grice said he personally favors providing a safe space to bike, but would be willing to pass the proposed law as is (it makes no provision for providing a place for dirt bikes) and making improvements later.
Council members Ramona Monteverde and Patty Sofokles also spoke in favor of the law.
“You can’t do it on the street,” Sofokles said. “Sorry it’s just the law.”