It was one of the strangest events I can recall from decades of covering Middle Township Committee.
Last week the governing body passed, without so much as a smidgeon of opposition or word of outcry, an increased fine schedule for illegal use of the bike path by all terrain vehicles.
Could it be an admission of guilt on the part of ATV riders? Was it ignorance, so they can be arrested then contest their arrest and fine in court? Who knows?
For those who may not have found it the least bit interesting, the fine has risen to $1,000 for the first violation, $2,500 for the second, and $5,000 for third and subsequent violations. It will be interesting to see who gets the dubious honor of being the first dim wit to get caught on the pedestrian and bicycle pathway.
When the ordinance was first introduced, I thought that, after reading about it in my story, some hot blood would storm the next meeting with a bevy of buddies to protest what they view as an infringement on their rights.
Not a murmur or peep took place.
For the most part, ATV riders are good people. They must be shown where to ride, and then let them alone.
Problems have existed on the bike path with ATV intrusion. Prohibition of those illicit vehicles is clearly posted on both main entrances to the path.
By the skid marks and tire tracks, it's obvious the law has been violated.
According to Middle Township Administrator James Alexis, who lives along the path, but who didn't commence the amended ordinance with the higher fines, there was some reduction in ridership by ATVs after my story appeared.
At least we can assume some of those riders can read, if not heed what they see.
Adding salt to the wound is that police have an ATV, and on certain occasions, have attempted, on weekends, when ATV use is high, to coordinate efforts with the patrol division to snag a fews scofflaws.
While they've nabbed a few, the numbers wouldn't set the world on fire.
Maybe just the threat of fines will be enough to shoo the ATVs into other woodland trails of gravel pits. The aspect of a $1,000 fine would set me straight, no bones about it.
At the same meeting, committee introduced a schedule of fines for the soon-to-open (after Alexis gets the insurance OK and gives the high sign to the vendor in California) skate park at the Davies Sports Complex.
At the urging of Committeewoman Susan DeLanzo, the fines were set low enough to sting an errant skateboarder, but not enough to steal a college education. Youthful offenders are expected to pay the fines, but it's likely Mom or Pop will fork over the dough.
The fine for first skateboard offense was set at $50, with subsequent fines jacked up to $100.
One of the points which committee may want to reconsider is one prohibiting skating on "township property" surrounding the skateboard park. That's a good idea, because it means not on the parking lot near the park, but it should be clarified that in-line and roller skating would still be permitted on the bike path, which runs from Davies Complex (township property) which links with the county bike path. Skating is allowed there, but under the ordinance, one could make the point it is no longer allowed. That's why they hold hearings.
Hearing for the skateboard park fines and ordinance is set for Aug. 7 at 6 p.m. in township hall, 33 Mechanic St.
Wouldn't it be terrific if people used common sense and good judgment? If they did, none of these laws and fines would be needed. We all know humans aren't made like that. There's that rebellious spirit that will never be quenched except by a heavy hand.