A mayor who clearly doesn’t care or listen.
The March 31st article in New London Press Star confirmed the reasons for unfruitful discussions with city hall. Gary Henke decided he would not allow ATVs and UTVs on city streets and he refuses to listen to evidence.
False information is his favorite tool for accomplishing his agenda, and he will not allow the desires of New London businesses to change his mind. The article quoted one of his arguments that I have heard numerous times. “State law allows 12-year-old through 15-year-olds to drive ATVs”, Henke said. “I don’t think they have the maturity to handle motorized vehicles on city streets.”
The State only allows 12-15 year-olds to drive an ATV on roadways if they are accompanied by an adult. This was to allow families to return to their hotels when using surrounding routes and trails. This is far from the idea that young people would be riding all over town on their own, which is what anyone would naturally fear. This law has been in effect for years without any issues, so despite what Gary Henke thinks, the maturity of young drivers and their parent appears to be sufficient. One more point, if you grew up in Wisconsin in a rural area, you probably started driving tractors, trailer or trucks at 12-15 even without your parents. Some have maturity and some don’t, which is why these young people cannot drive without an adult on public roadways.
Mayor Henke has also made an issue of licenses and insurance. “If you’re going to drive any kind of vehicle on city streets, you should have a licence.” We agree and a large number of towns and cities have passed ordinances requiring a license and insurance despite the fact that their ordinance could be contested in court. Those mayors have chosen to cross that bridge when they get to it and have erred in the direction of safety instead of using personal desires and loopholes in the current statutes to prohibit an activity they are not interested in. But even if an ordinance did not require licenses or insurance the vast majority of people have them so it is a mute question. In our club, everyone riding surrounding roads has licenses and insurance.
When you look at a map of New London you see only a few main streets that get everyone in and out of town with most of those corridors being along commercial areas where traffic has little impact. New London is ideal for allowing recreational visitors to enter to take advantage of local businesses. It has become clear that the mayor has not been listening to evidence, but only looking for arguments to support his personal opinions when he made comments about the bridges and traffic.
In the recent article he said, “It concerns me that the speed limit is 35mph, but ATVs can only go 25mph.” Unfortunately, that is false. ATVs are required to follow the posted speed limit or less if required by county or local ordinances. Currently Waupaca County limits ATVs and UTVs to 35mph on county roads and of course in town the speed limit is 25mph. There is no difference of speed in town and these vehicles flow with traffic. There wouldn’t be a big increase in traffic since I can’t drive more than one vehicle at a time. The only increase in traffic that would be seen would be from visitors, but don’t businesses want more visitors?
Mayor Henke has desperately tried to block our group from access to New London despite years of evidence proving that from a safety, and from a public welfare position he is wrong. Our club is offering to help bring new recreation and money to New London. We have been strongly supported by local businesses but the mayor is not listening. We have offered to pay for necessary signage so that this project costs the city nothing but instead will have positive economic impact. But none of that has swayed the mayor from his personal crusade against this project.
This is the mayor we have. One who puts his own interests before those of the community. One who makes decisions and refuses to hear the other side. One who for whatever reason is incapable of change. Is this the type of city government you want to deal with your next project?
Vote for change April 7th.