SCHENECTADY – The City Council on Monday tackled the problem of off-road vehicles illegally ridden on public streets and parks by enacting a redemption fee against offenders that was modeled after Albany’s recent law.
“I want to thank my colleagues,” said Councilwoman Karen Zalewski-Wildzunas, the legislation’s sponsor. “I think this was good legislation that was passed tonight. “I look forward to the police having the ability to ensure that we have safer streets.”
Under the legislation, all-terrain vehicles, off-highway motorcycles, dirt bikes, dune buggies, go-carts and all other motorized trail bikes are prohibited from city streets, highways, parks and trails. Any person found guilty of operating an off-road vehicle is subject to a fine of up to $500, or imprisonment of up to 15 days, or both.
Under the new legislation, a police officer may impound the off-road vehicle, with the owner subject to a $2,350 redemption fee.
If the off-road vehicles goes unclaimed after 60 days, it can be sold at a public auction to the highest bidder, sold for scrap, or destroyed.
Within the 60 days, the owner must to pay the city a $70 towing and hauling fee, and storage charges of $20 per day.
Jamaica Miles, the co-founder of the local group All of Us who was recently elected to the city school board, spoke against the legislation.
“I have great concerns about us passing legislation that’s going to further criminalize our youth around dirt bikes and ATVs,” Miles said, while suggesting a similar law “did not go well for the city of Albany and how the residents responded there.”
Miles continued: “I don’t see it going well here, that we’re going to further negatively impact an already poor community.”
During the city business portion of the meeting, Miles also spoke on other matters.
She said the community continues to have problems accessing council meetings using WebEx. She suggested that Zoom is far more accessible and it has the proper security protocols.
Miles also bemoaned what she said was a less than smooth process concerning the school board election, although she acknowledged it was a matter for the Schenectady County Board of Elections.
Council members spoke about various quality-of-life concerns.
Councilwoman Marion Porterfield said that the council has received complaints about the accumulation of litter in the city. She said she’s observed the concern herself while out walking.
Porterfield asked residents to respect neighbors by not storing trash in front of their homes.
“My understanding is that some of it’s because people don’t have access to their backyards, and that’s an issue that I will bring to the council going forward, because that should not be … There are ordinances about where your trash needs to be kept and the front yard is not one of those places.”
Porterfield and Councilman John Polimeni also asked residents to observe the real purpose of the upcoming Memorial Day weekend as they relax and hold barbecues. Polimeni said there are celebrations Monday at Vail Park and Veterans Park.
Polimeni said the council has received a lot of complaints about noise and “things along those lines.” He asked residents to keep music levels to an appropriate level and respect neighbors.
“Also starting already, are some of the fireworks issues,” he said, reminding residents that fireworks are illegal in New York, while sparklers are also illegal in Schenectady County.