MILLINOCKET, Maine — Town leaders are applying for two grants that will help pay police for ATV enforcement patrols in town and on the Katahdin region’s first multiuse recreational trail network, which tentatively is slated to open on Labor Day.
The Town Council voted 7-0 on Thursday to seek two Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife grants totaling almost $9,000. Councilor Jimmy Busque said the grants, if won, would be part of the culmination of an effort to bring all-terrain vehicle trails to the region, which began about four years ago.
“The trail [network] is coming together so I am looking forward to getting ATVs in here. I think it will be better than snowmobiling” for the region’s economy, Busque said.
“It just seems to be another piece of the puzzle for ATV trails,” Councilor Michael Madore said. “It is a very good fit with what we are doing.”
One grant would be for $4,647 — $3,718 in state money plus a matching town contribution of 25 percent. The next would be for $4,158, with no match.
The grants “are a crucial part of developing” a multijurisdictional ATV enforcement task force with the Maine Warden Service and other agencies, Police Chief Donald Bolduc said in a letter to grant program coordinator William F. Allen.
With the grants, town police would have patrol details twice a week for four hours per patrol from Aug. 8 to Nov. 30. Each detail would draw one or two officers working extra-duty patrols, Bolduc’s proposal states.
The town’s lack of an organized trail network for ATVs doesn’t negate the need for patrols. Many residents ride on back roads, town streets and private property, Bolduc said.
One potential problem: Town police need training on ATV safety and patrols. They also need equipment. Councilor John Raymond said he is working with an ATV dealership to secure a grant from an ATV manufacturer that can make police-package ATVs that police can lease with sirens, lights and appropriate markings.
Bolduc said he is working to get training for his department’s eight officers. Several officers have ATVs that they can use on patrols as a temporary measure, he said.
The trail network, meanwhile, is almost built and hopefully will be ready for Labor Day, Raymond said. He and a Maine Department of Conservation official will be reviewing it Friday to check for problems.
As ATV aficionados, Raymond, resident Paul Sannicandro and Wiley have spent more than three years on the regional trail effort in response to complaints that the lack of organized, legal trails deprives the Katahdin region of hundreds of thousands of dollars that flow annually into ATV areas in other states.
The three saw ATV riding as a natural complement to the region’s internationally recognized snowmobile trails, one of the area’s economic staples, except that it could be more profitable because it happens in three seasons.
The trail starts with Phase I, running from the Northern Timber Cruisers Snowmobile Club over a multiuse recreational bridge near Route 11 west of town to the South Twin area. Plans are for Phase II, which is under construction now, will go from South Twin to Seboeis, where it will connect with the statewide ATV trail network, Wiley has said.
The grants also would help pay for police patrols outside Millinocket, a practice resident Alyce Maragus objected to. She said she felt that the additional work would stress officers. Town Manager Eugene Conlogue replied that the officers would not work the patrols unless they wanted to.