Two weeks after a decision was made to keep a locked gate in place by a gravel road in Shearstown, Bay Roberts council members had a change of heart on the matter.
The town met with concerned residents from Shearstown to discuss the gate earlier this month, just a little more than a week after that council approved a motion to remove boulders alongside the gate to allow local ATV users to access the Cat Hills area without having to access busier roads. This would ultimately increase driver safety. As needed, council also agreed to allow farmers to access the road through an opened gate as needed. All this came in response to a petition submitted to the town with almost 200 signatures.
Deputy Mayor Walter Yetman, who chairs the town's public works committee, attended the June 6 meeting with Shearstown residents. Speaking to fellow councillors at the June 11 regular meeting, he said the town should have met with the residents before making the previous decision on the gate.
"We had a good meeting. Lots of good points were brought up."
Yetman acknowledged the gate was initially installed when new town infrastructure was set up in the area. That work made improvements to the gravel road a necessity. The town wanted to protect that infrastructure, and larger vehicles accessing the newly-improved road was viewed as a problem. He also indicated the road has existed in various forms for 80-to-90 years.
After speaking with the residents, Yetman said the committee felt new signage for the entranceway to the road making it clear no vehicle traffic is permitted would be sufficient.
"We're trying to deter four-by-four trucks and those kinds of bigger vehicles from using the road," he said.
In a memo to council, public works director Sean Elms noted if more problems arise, the town can decide to reinstall the gate.
The motion to remove the gate and add signage was approved unanimously. Coun. Silas Badcock asked whether the town would want to consider making the road narrower to keep larger vehicles off it. Yetman suggested that option could be costly for the town.
"We're going to monitor the situation and keep an eye on it," he said. "It's our duty to do that."