Byram approves bikers' gathering

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:46

    BYRAM-Each morning, Robert Scott likes to step outside his Byram home and onto his back porch to sip a cup of coffee. Just the thought of sharing a moment of serenity with a few hundred motorcycle enthusiasts leaves a bad taste in his mouth. "I'm a dissatisfied resident of the area," said Scott, who lives within earshot of Wild West City and the hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts expected to converge on the site, Sunday, April 3. "I complained about this event last year and I'm complaining about it this year." Scott was referring to the Second Annual Hare Scramble, which the township council granted the Ridge Riders Motorcycle Club a special license to sponsor again this year at Wild West City, in Byram. The license is contingent upon the club meeting a number of guidelines set forth by the council, including a site inspection at Wild West City by the township manager and engineer prior to the event. Last year, some 1,200 people, including 300 participants, were attracted to the day-long Enduro motorcycling event. "It's a safe place for people to ride," said Chris Reiner, a Byram resident and club member. "We want to give kids a legal, safe, controlled environment to ride, instead of doing it illegally." The operation of all-terrain motorcycles on township- and state-owned land in Byram is prohibited. The inaugural event last year drew sharp criticism from many Byram residents, who complained about noise and expressed concern about threats to the environment. At least 400 signatures were collected on a petition opposing another event this year. "The bottom line is the quality of life of the residents and the environmental impact," said Donna Griff, a Byram councilwoman. "Last year, I fielded 20-30 phone calls from people in my neighborhood who were not happy with the noise." According to the organizers, any proceeds from the event will go toward supporting local charities and community organizations including the fire department. "Wild West City is there, it's been there for a long time," said Eskil "Skip" Danielson, Byram mayor. "This event will enhance local business and be of limited discomfort to neighbors so we should support the endeavors of the Ridge Riders and Wild West City." Griff said she agrees with the "good-hearted" intentions on the part of the Ridge Riders in the name of community service, but is not willing to support the event at any cost to the environment. Byram resident Dean Hartman owns property near Wild West City and its proximity to stream and wetlands. He said last year up to 38 bikes at a time were crossing trails within 52 feet of his residence. "We're looking at a parcel that we've been trying to protect," said Griff. "We are afraid of these things and what they can do. This is not the right place for it." Corey Stoner, the Byram Township engineer, suggested that the license require the Ridge Riders to repair any disturbance to property by restoring trails to conditions prior to the event, development of a plan for parking vehicles at Wild West City, hiring sufficient security personnel as well as directing traffic along Lackawanna Drive, and distributing fliers to provide advance notice of any potential inconveniences to area residents. "Communication is key," said Louis Esposito Jr., a Byram councilman. "I went to the event last year and was amazed by the number of families. I thought it was a great event if you can work with the town on some of the issues."