Whitehall officials and residents adapt to snowmobiles

B y Lee Tugas

The population of ATV’s and snowmobiles rises and falls with the snowfall. This year, they are obviously on the rise.

Whether or not they are a nuisance or a mechanized delight, very much depends, in Whitehall, at least, on your point of view.

Worrisome to police and railroad police

To Village Police Chief Matt Dickinson and Special Agent Mike Tracy of Canadian Pacific Railway Police, snowmobiles that illegally cross Canadian Pacific rail tracks are a serious concern.

A particularly troublesome place, Dickenson said, is the spot under the railroad overpass near the Sunoco Station on Route 4. Both men reminded snowmobile drivers of the obvious: follow the rules of the road, and cross tracks at official railway crossings.

Even at crossings one needs to be careful. Dickinson and Tracy both cited the Feb. 5 case of a pickup truck hit by a northbound Amtrak train at an actual crossing.

That accident hospitalized Brian Woods, 28, of Crown Point, an employee of International Paper in Ticonderoga. CP rail is continuing to investigate that matter.

Tracy referred to the Ticonderoga incident simply to remind drivers of small motorized vehicles just how formidable a train, be it passenger or freight, can be.

“People have no idea just how powerful a fast-moving train can be,” Tracy said.

“I’ve a zero tolerance for illegal rail crossings,” Dickinson added.

A matter of give and take

Since no tracks pass by Pine Lake, a more lenient view can be taken by James Allen, owner of Allen Forestry of Fort Ann. Reporting to the Whitehall Village Board on timber harvesting of village-owned land, Allen said he was concerned with encounters with snowmobile operators.

Allen said he preferred to deal with snowmobile drivers himself, since he found man-to-man negotiation preferable to resorting to law enforcement.

Difference of opinion

Telisky said he personally believed it was a problem.

“Somewhere in Middle Granville, a homeowner has put up an orange snow fence, as high as that overhead light,” Telisky said, pointing to a florescent light about eight-feet high.

“He put it out there so they have to go out onto the road and not on his lawn,” Telisky said.

Jane Gendron, of Whitehall, also expressed concern about snowmobiles.

A self-described walker, Gendron said, “I am going to go home, but I will be mindful of the snowmobiles.”

Trustee Walt Sandford defended the outdoor tradition of a winter spent astride a snowmobile.

“We are talking about a minority,” Sandford said. “There are plenty of ATV and snowmobile drivers who are responsible.”

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