MILLINOCKET, Maine — Town Manager Eugene Conlogue would like area businesses to help police buy an all-terrain vehicle for police officers who patrol the region’s first multiuse recreational trail, he said Thursday.
Conlogue isn’t seeking money just yet, but he and Police Chief Donald Bolduc said that a lack of funding for an ATV has led to officers riding their personal all-terrain vehicles on trail patrols. Those ATVs are not made for police work.
“[Town Councilor] John Raymond and others are working on the fundraising piece for that now,” Conlogue said of the effort to secure police their own ATV or ATVs. “They are in the early stages of it.”
Years in the making, the 16½-mile Katahdin Area Multi-Use Trail connects to the statewide ATV network starting at the Northern Timber Cruisers clubhouse and has a spur that runs from near Millinocket Regional Hospital into downtown and onto Route 11 near McDonald’s.
Built and opened last October as the culmination of a volunteer effort organized by Raymond, Paul Sannicandro and Brian Wiley, the trail is viewed by town leaders as a cornerstone to the Katahdin region’s tourism economy and a crucial element to the region’s economic revival.
Businesspeople had complained for decades that the region lacked networked ATV trails, which they felt would draw traffic like the region’s internationally recognized snowmobile trails.
Bolduc secured grants to fund extra-duty police ATV trail patrols and training and said he believes the department should have its own equipped ATV or ATVs for officers’ use. Another police department donated an ATV to police but officers found it generally inadequate for trail patrols.
As of late Wednesday afternoon, police patrols on the trail, which reopened May 1, have not netted any arrests or tickets, Bolduc said. Officers are concentrating on educating riders and reportedly have seen few violations anyway.
Northern Timber Cruisers club volunteers also try to patrol the trail daily, keeping it free of trash and otherwise well-maintained. A club member, Raymond is the town’s trail coordinator.
The trail starts near the snowmobile club on Katahdin Forest Management land on Millinocket Lake Road and runs to a multiuse recreational bridge near Route 11 west of town. It goes into the South Twin trail area and Seboeis, where it connects with a statewide ATV trail network.
The spur, which runs from Poplar Street near the hospital to the Hannaford supermarket on Central Street, is viewed as crucial to getting ATV riders to town merchants.