Council ORV decision not good for Escanaba


I am writing in regards to the Escanaba City Council decision to allow off-road vehicles onto the city streets of Escanaba.

To the members of the council that voted in favor, I ask a simple question: How many residents of Escanaba will use this new “privilege” to ride their ORVs on the city streets? I predict very few, less than 100-200 city residents are owners of ORVs, while the remaining 11,800 will have to put up with it. These vehicles are built for off road use, not on streets in historic neighborhoods where kids live and play and people walk their dogs.

On a night when harassment in Ludington Park was also discussed, did the council not have the logic and forethought to see that this too, when people inevitably complain to ORV owners faces about their noise and reckless driving, that it will lead to even more harassment, more conflict and more anger towards each other? Do they not see the irony that a silent electric golf cart is illegal…. but a noisy, very fast ORV is legal?

Based on Escanaba’s track record in enforcing the fireworks rules and regulations, we as the residents should have no faith that the city has a plan or a willingness, to control the behavior and enforce the noise level of this new source of chaos on our already crowded streets.

Do the residents rights not come first? Why are the needs of the few outweighing the desires of the many taxpayers who will now be putting up with the noise? Who, specifically, will be enforcing what is allowed and not allowed? What if my dog gets hit by one of these ORVs, driven by a drunk out-of-town ORV driver? Does the city have in its budget, the money to now buy a fleet of police ORVs? Is more staff needed? If residents have a complaint about someone breaking the rules, who do they complain to?

This was a horrible decision of which we all will pay a price: the loss of a peaceful place to live.

I have high hopes for this town. However, the city itself for a generation has been held back by council after council, for years and years, failing to make decisions on the big things that matter: development at the former jail, construction of residential properties to alleviate a housing shortage. Approving the building of hotels to fill a need, bringing money and development into the heart of Escanaba. Allowing Basic Marine to expand, creating jobs and expanding the tax base. Allowing growth instead of stifling it. Instead, the money sits yet again, on the table, about to walk away. Because ORV’s matter more.

It is up to us all, to show up at every meeting, write to each council member and city manager and demand they reconsider this matter or, at a minimum, delay its enactment until they have a plan that can tell each and every resident of how they plan to control it.

Kevin Chown



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