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Unhappy with Dixon Park District, trail riders seek permit discount from city

DIXON – The Blackhawk Trail Riders are asking the city to lower its permit fee for driving utility task vehicles on Dixon streets.

The Park District started a pilot program 2 years ago allowing UTVs on the Joe Stengel Trail with the purchase of a $100 permit, and if they had that permit, they could pay the city $10 to ride on streets restricted to a 35-mph speed limit.

The district lowered the registration fee to $50 for renewals and $75 for new permits, extended UTV use to Lowell and Page parks and also extended the UTV season to run from April 1 to Nov. 30.

Without a district permit, the city fee is $100.

Trail Riders members Mark Imfeld and Steve Dilger approached the City Council earlier this week asking for a lower rate and permission to ride year-round.

Dilger said they are unhappy with the Park District – riders don't have connected routes and by law would have to trailer their vehicles out to the trails – and so they want to just buy the city permit, at a cheaper price.

The club has asked the district to further lower the fee and for more access to make connections, such as using the Lowell Parkway Trail, but the Park Board said UTVs shouldn't be allowed on the multiuse trail because it could create a safety hazard.

The board plans to discuss the UTV program fee structure Wednesday.

The pilot program has been pretty successful, and the riders have been good stewards about policing themselves, so a lower fee "makes sense to me," Mayor Li Arellano Jr. said.

The trail riders’ overall goal is to create a connected system of trails throughout Lee County, the region and eventually into Wisconsin.

The trail proposal has been stalled at the county level for more than a year while the County Board holds off on granting access until possible state legislation goes through that would extend UTV use on 55-mph roads, excluding state and federal highways.

"All the dots would be connected," Imfeld said.

Councilman Ryan Marshall said they should lower the fee because of the tourism potential and perhaps one day become a southern route stemming from Wisconsin.

It was not discussed how much the fee would be lowered.

"It's a lot more popular than a lot of people know," Imfeld said.

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