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April 18, 2014

City residents register complaints about ATVs

NEW CASTLE — Some North Hill residents expressed annoyance and frustration over youngsters recklessly operating all-terrain vehicles through their neighborhoods.

Members of New Castle City Council empathized with the residents last week, saying the youngsters have disregard for people and property.

Mary Fagnilli of Edison Avenue said, “I wish the police would take us seriously. They’re breaking the law.”

Walter Faria of Leasure Avenue commented, “They don’t even stop at stop signs.”

Sandy Gallonio of Edison Avenue said the noise from the ATVs “sounds like I live by a dirt bike racetrack. It’s time to confiscate them.”

“We’re getting fed up,” she said, adding they use the vehicles to distribute drugs.

Pat Schwoeble of Winter Avenue said the operators are “totally disrespectful. They’re stupid.” She noted the drivers operate as a group of four and are “riding full force during the night.”

Mayor Anthony Mastrangelo responded, “We’ll get to the bottom of this.”

Councilman Richard Beshero said he would like to not only have the ATVs impounded, but the users’ parents “fined to the fullest amount.

“None of you should have to live with that,” he said to the residents. “They have total disregard.”

“They run rampant through our streets,” Councilman Anthony Adamo said. “They come through the neighborhoods 50, 60 mph.”

Noting the parents buy the ATVs and the gas to run them, Adamo said, “They give them thumbs up. I say we absolutely hammer them. They’re breaking the law.”

Adamo also said some of the operators are using the ATVs to distribute drugs. “That’s a fact.”

Police Chief Bobby Salem said ATVs are “a problem throughout the city.”

He noted it is difficult to catch the operators because they drive through yards.

“We’re going to try to figure out where they park their bikes and go after them.”

“They’re not road vehicles,” he added. “They can’t be legally driven on the roadways.”

Cpl. Chris Fabian, New Castle police traffic officer, said the ATVs are illegal to operate anywhere in the city, including the parks.

Operators can be cited for operating in the city, not having a driver’s license, registration or insurance, he said. Fines are $25 plus costs for operating in the city, not having a driver’s license or registration, Fabian noted. A driver under 18 years old must be under the supervision of an adult 18 or older, he added.

The fine for failure to have insurance is $300 plus costs, Fabian said.

The police have a long-standing policy of not pursuing ATVs, Fabian explained. There is case law that says “we’re liable if anyone gets injured.”

The main thing police try to do is identify the operators and go after them, he said.

Police can impound the vehicles for failure to have a license, registration or insurance, and have done so, Fabian said. “We have a bunch already.”

But the owners will usually pay the impound fee, he said, and regain possession of the vehicles.

(Email: jmanna@ncnewsonline.com)

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