Snowmobilers urged not to strayPhil Pfuehler photos George Woychik is part owner of the professional office building at the corner of North Main Street and Mound View Road. He’s hoping the Do Not Enter city sign in the front will dissuade snowmobilers from cutting across the property.
By: Phil Pfuehler, River Falls Journal
With the towering drifts from the Dec. 11 blizzard, clearing away snow from roads, driveways and sidewalks took time, money and energy.
In at least one place in the city, some of that labor was “undone” by snowmobilers coming west from the industrial park and crossing North Main Street at Mound View Road.
“It is extremely frustrating and costly to re-shovel sidewalks and driveway entrances after a snowmobile has pushed over and packed down the snow that has been cleared off once before,” said George Woychik, owner of Financial Strategies Group, 710 N. Main St.
“In addition, pushing over and repacking snow on sidewalks makes it more difficult and dangerous for pedestrians to get around town.”
Early this month, snowmobilers tore through plowed snowbanks and caved in the snow on both sides of the building driveway of Woychik’s business.
They then zipped across the property and did the same on the front sidewalks before crossing to the west side of North Main Street.
Not only did the snowmobilers undo the work of snow that was pushed and blown aside, they compressed the snowy debris left in their wake. And that made the second effort to clear away a path on pavements much harder.
“It’s thoughtless,” Woychik said. “After we’ve cleared everything out from the blizzard, they cut through without permission, make a mess and go on their way.”
Woychik said the problem’s not new.
“It hasn’t just been this year. I’d call it an ongoing, occasional issue,” he said. “It usually happens a few times each winter. What’s made it worse this time is that we have so much snow to clear. When it gets knocked back down and run over, it’s frozen hard.”
Woychik contacted the city for help, and it came quickly in the form of Street Department Supervisor Terry Kusilek.
Kusilek dropped off two barricades that Woychik set up on Mound View near the curb behind his building. In the front, snow-covered lawn of the property, he’s posted another city sign that reads: Do Not Enter.
Woychik hopes both will deter snowmobiles from driving over and crossing where they shouldn’t.
The city has a snowmobile route map. It includes areas of the industrial park and the North Main Street intersections at Summit Street and Quarry Road.
“We encourage snowmobile drivers to come into River Falls and support the local businesses,” Woychik said. “However, we kindly ask that they stay on the designated street trails and keep off private lawns, parking lots and city sidewalks that business owners are required to keep clear of snow.”
Kusilek said most snowmobilers in the city are responsible.
“It hasn’t been a huge problem for us in the past,” he said.
Kusilek said there’ve been minor problems with snowmobilers along Cemetery Road and on the paved walking paths by the Collinswood senior condos off County Road MM.
“But it’s not the end of the world,” he said. “In general, there’s been good compliance about following the green-and-white signage that marks the snowmobile trails on roads.”
Woychik thanked Kusilek for his prompt help with the barricades and sign.
“Terry came out right away,” Woychik said. “I hope what we’ve put out ends the problem. If anybody cuts through now, it would be done maliciously.”
Police Chief Roger Leque said snowmobile citations are rare, but that the fines are $114.