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West Harrison Preserve Trampled By Motorbikes

WEST HARRISON, N.Y. – Motorbikes and ATVs have been riding through the Silver Lake Preserve in West Harrison but town officials say their hands are tied unless they catch the riders in the act.

“We can inform the police but we are low on manpower right now,” said Mayor Ron Belmont. “We hope that we can come to a solution. The problem is it’s hard to hear them from Passidomo Park and the roads surrounding the preserve so we’re hoping that if the neighbors in that area hear or see anything they call the police or call my office.”

The issue was brought to the forefront by West Harrison resident Richard Viscome. Viscome, who has lived in Harrison for 54 years, said the trails have been destroyed by motorbikes. Though he remembers people riding motorbikes in those woods when he used to go there as a child, Viscome said the bikes in those days were like comparing a skateboard to a Ferrari.

While walking through the preserve, there are noticeable motorbike tracks on the trails. A lot of rocks that once made up the walking trails have been displaced, as well leaving the trails covered in dirt, which gets muddy when it rains. Several manmade rock bridges over streams in the woods also have been compromised.

“I've always used this as a place for solitude,” Viscome said. “However, our woods are being destroyed. It’s starting to look like downtown White Plains.”

Viscome has taken the initiative to block off some of the trails with tree branches so motorbikes, which he says he has seen hundreds of times riding through the woods, cannot pass. Viscome said the runners and hikers he has spoken with on the trail don’t mind the obstacles as long as it is stopping the bikes.

“I’m doing this for the good of us all,” Viscome said about blocking the trails. “It’s a little more exercise for the hikers but I’ve had no objections thus far.”

Still, Viscome said the motorbikes enter the preserve from Stony Hill Road, which is private. Viscome said beyond the woods being destroyed, he is concerned someone may hurt themselves riding through the area, which could put the town on the hook for a potential lawsuit.

Town Board Trustee Marlane Amelio said it is imperative to protect the town’s green space. Amelio suggested putting up proper signs to deter those from riding in the woods.

“This does change the makeup of the property forever,” Amelio said. “It is very important that everyone enjoy it but they have to use it properly.”

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