GREENVILLE, Maine — All-terrain vehicle riders can look to the Moosehead Lake region as a destination for trail rides thanks to the ongoing efforts of the community.
The Moosehead Riders ATV club, which has been working over the years to improve and expand the trail network in this tourist community, and the stores that benefit from the traffic received a boost last week when town officials supported some trail changes.
Selectmen voted 4-1 after a public hearing Wednesday to make the Pritham Avenue ATV trail from the junction to the village permanent. The trail had been a temporary one pending the competition of another trail that skirts the village.
“About 50 people attended the public hearing and there was a significant debate [on the routes],” Greenville Town Manager John Simko said Thursday.
A majority supported the move, he said, but others expressed concern about children who are too young to operate a motor vehicle but can drive an ATV being too close to the intersection.
Although the perimeter trail is expected to be completed in about three weeks, local businesses supported keeping the Pritham Avenue trail open for good because of its financial boost. A majority of residents also supported that move in a June straw poll.
Simko said concern also was expressed that the new perimeter trail, funded in part by a state Department of Conservation grant, be a multiuse trail as the grant was intended. Local club representatives are working with that in mind, he said. Jack Hart, code enforcement officer, will oversee the work, Simko noted.
In addition, selectmen last week supported a request from the ATV club to have an access route from Eveleth Hill through town to Foss Street where riders then can reach the Moosehead Riders Snowmobile Clubhouse, which is also being used as the ATV clubhouse. This route will open as soon as the perimeter trail is open.
“The ATV club also hopes to eventually find a way, with landowner permission, to go from the snowmobile-ATV clubhouse north and east to hook onto trail systems that go north of Kokadjo towards Millinocket and Brownville,” Simko said.
In another effort to enhance tourism, which was supported by residents at the June town meeting, selectmen authorized Simko to accept, on the town’s behalf, the state Department of Transportation picnic area property on Route 15. The state is giving the land to the town to prepare for construction of a visitors center.
Toward that end, the board also voted to go out to bid for a “fairly modest” modular building to house the center. The town received a federal grant of $253,000 to construct a visitors center, and the town intends to lease the facility and property to the nonprofit Natural Resource Education Center. It is expected that the center will close the outdoor privies on the property when construction starts in August, Simko said. The new facility will have public bathrooms.
Tentative plans are for the center to sublet space in the building to the Moosehead Lake Region Chamber of Commerce, the Forest Society of Maine, and other resource-related entities, according to Simko.