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Damage complaints, plowing concerns follow Snirt Run

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BARNES CORNERS — The 11th annual Snirt Run took place over the weekend, after months of preparation and oversight from Lewis County legislators to improve the continually growing event. Though the measures implemented by the county may have resulted in less property damage and a safer event, new post-Snirt issues may have arisen from those efforts.

After damage from last year’s event was blamed on deep snow and impassable roads, suggestions were made at preparatory meetings to remove snow from some of the route.

Event organizers — Barnes Corners Sno-Pals Snowmobile Club — hired Wilbur Stanford to plow Mackay Road in the town of West Turin. The club has since submitted a $2,800 bill to the county, asking for repayment.

Club member Heath L. Ash confirmed the club asked for compensation for the plowing, but he was not aware whether the club was asking for a full reimbursement, or just a portion.

He explained the request for repayment came after the road was used by school buses and UPS trucks after it was plowed.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reportedly received no damage complaints, though several areas of damage can be seen along the route.

Tabolt Road, opened solely for the event, was included on the map but covered in heavy snow. It was the only road connecting the south and north portions of the designated route. ATV operators left the mapped route, entering posted land owned by John J. Bodnar.

Mr. Bodnar’s parcel is a 64.4 acre heavily treed lot to the east of Tabolt Road. It contains a small portion of state Department of Environmental Conservation wetlands along the Tabolt Road border. It was unclear whether the wetland territory had been compromised.

An attempt to reach Mr. Bodnar for comment was unsuccessful.

The land to the west of Tabolt Road contains considerably more wetlands, but was protected by the large amount of snow.

A wet, rutted, muddy strip ran along Route 12 in the vicinity of The Edge Hotel and Boondocks Restaurant following the event.

Though a contract with club president Gary R. Stinson stated that the club would be responsible for any damage resulting from the event, Mr. Stinson indicated in an email to legislators that he thought recreational trail funds should be used to repair the Route 12 damage.

While that area allows snowmobile use, ATVs are not permitted to operate there as part of the county’s trail system.

Legislator Bryan D. Moser, R-Kirschnerville, said Mr. Stinson’s email stated his board likely could take care of $1,000 worth of damage at the Route 12 location, if the county would pick up the tab for plowing Mackay Road.

Mr. Moser said the county was not responsible for plowing Mackay Road for the event and if it had been, the cost would have been much lower using county employees and equipment.

Portions of private land allowed for exclusive use for the event were also damaged.

Jacqueline L. Mahoney, Lewis County recreational trails coordinator, said she believes remediation of that area will be taken care of by the property owners and the Sno-Pals club.

Uncertainty over a final check of the route to ensure no participants would be stranded almost caused a cancelation of the event.

After agreeing to the legislators’ request at three separate meetings, Mr. Stinson made an unexpected about-face, stating his club would not conduct the sweep, and canceled the event March 13.

The following day, club members said the event was back on and the club would agree to the sweep.

The sweep was conducted Saturday evening by volunteers from the Tug Hill Adirondack ATV Association, according to President Joseph Z. Onyon.

Montague Inn owner Richard C. Lucas, a former Lewis County legislator, asked the group for help, according to Mr. Onyon.

His volunteers broke into two groups, leaving at 7 p.m. and traveling to the farthest points of the route. At 8 p.m. they were working their way back and by 10:30 p.m. the sweep was complete.

“There were about 10 to 15 total, slowly making their way back,” Mr. Onyon said of the sweep. “It was just a few groups with a three or four people in each.”

“We had an abandoned ATV on Flat Rock Road and a busted up (Polaris RZR) on Centerville Road. They were both recovered Sunday morning,” he said.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported a total of 20 arrests, 12 of those from utility vehicles prohibited from use on roads or trails.

Lewis County Undersheriff James M. Monnat reported all of the UTV operators ticketed had displayed a mandatory Snirt sticker given out upon registration.

Mr. Ash said his volunteers were not responsible for checking registrations of the nearly 3,000 entrants.

“That’s up to them,” he said of the operators, who should know whether their vehicles are legal.

The remainder of tickets were for reckless driving and operating a vehicle on a closed road.

State Park Police charged two ATV operators with driving while intoxicated, and another individual with operating a snowmobile while intoxicated.

State police arrested two Snirt participants for allegedly burglarizing a Carpenter Road property during the event. The pair were caught after other Snirt participants alerted police to suspicious activity.

The eight-hour poker run saw county roads opened up solely for the event, which is the only fundraiser for the Barnes Corners Sno-Pals Snowmobile Club. Attendance was down slightly from years past, with 2,927 recreational vehicles registered. Registration fees this year increased from $10 to $15 per participant.

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