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Monday, May 17, 2010

Huntsville Proceeds with toll booth

In today's Standard we read that Huntsville is proceeding with a toll booth on the road that leads to Cemetery Point.  Be sure to read this Di Lewis article:

Huntsville only town with two tollbooths around

From the article, Mayor Jim Truett stated:

Traffic from summer recreationists is damaging the road and Huntsville doesn't have money to pay for repairs, he said, adding that the road has been a problem for years and is getting to the point where the town has to take action.

"We do not want to do this, but we have absolutely no choice," Truett said. "It's really sad that AL&L will not work with us because of the damage caused by the motorists."

First Street leads to Forest Service land, access to which is restricted by a tollbooth run by American Land & Leisure. The toll is $10 for access to the popular boating area.

Truett said the town council has asked for help from the Forest Service and AL&L, and the best plan is to add $2 to the toll AL&L charges to go to a First Street perpetual road fund.

He said AL&L has rejected that plan, though, so the town is ready to create its own toll booth, which would charge $3, with the extra dollar to pay the booth operator. He said the booth would be operational when Cemetery Point opens.
 We discussed this issue in March and we understand the booth is under construction and will open in the next week or so.


Richard said...

This was neither an easy decision nor one that the town council wanted to do, but we felt there was no other choice. The decision to have a toll booth was unanimous amongst the council members.

Huntsville receives about $40K each year in B & C road funds which is supposed to cover snow removal, salaries, road maintenance, repairs, sand, salt, etc. An overlay of First street will cost more than $300K, which is slightly less than Huntsville's entire annual budget. Maintaining First street is taking away from the other roads in town and we are losing ground each year.

For several years the town has tried to encourage American Land and Leisure to help with the road. We initially asked for a small portion of the $10 they now charge visitors and AL&L said no way. We then asked them to collect $2 and they dragged their feet during 2009. When we told them our only other option was to create our own toll booth, they stalled, knowing they could make it through yet another year.

Up until two weeks ago, we thought AL & L would see the light and realize the best option for everyone would be for AL& L to collect the fee. They have instead chosen to thumb their nose.

While we would have wanted to give Huntsville or even Ogden Valley residents special treatment, our lawyers along with legal counsel for the US Forest Service advised us that a toll would have to be uniform to all. We could not give certain people or groups special treatment while charging others selectively.

As individual council members, we would not institute a rule that we are not willing to abide by ourselves. In fact, two of the council members will be directly affected as boaters and regular users of Cemetery Point. My boat is typically launched 3-4 times each week, so my recreational expenses just went up too.

Richard L. Sorensen
Huntsville Town Council

Wacker said...

I think the second toll booth makes sound fiscal sense for the town of Huntsville. The best part of the toll is it effects only those who use the road and not every other taxpayer who may never use the road.

It is goofy that the AL&L people would not incorporate the $2 fund into their single booth collections. I applaud the Town Council in Huntsville for taking the action.

Laura said...

Will there be a yearly fee option for those of us who use it all summer long?

Richard said...

Yes, the town council is meeting tomorrow night to iron out the details, but an annual pass will be available.

Richard Sorensen

Laura said...

That's good to hear. I want to help but it will have to be cost effective for us. We can always use another boat ramp. I wonder how many will opt for that?

You certainly have the nicest beach area. Wonder if the new fee will drive away those that have a tendency not to pick up after themselves? Hmmmmm. When it all washes out, a toll might be the best thing that happened to that beach.

rider said...

The town council did the right thing and we support your difficult decision. I would like to hear why they (AL&L) would not chip in for the road? What is their reasoning? Can someone provide input?