I Take It Back!

Ok, it’s time for me to backpedal.
I thought, less than a week ago, that capitalizing on ATVing and snowmobiling was pointless, because it was focusing on something citizens of the city were more interested in than people from around the state and further abroad. After several days discussion, however, my perspective has changed.
I don’t think ATVs are the silver bullet for Berlin, but I don’t see another industry that will allow the city to build needed infrastructure faster.
Maybe a casino would have, but New Hampshire doesn’t allow gambling. What the state does allow is off-roading, and people are flocking to Berlin to do it.
I spoke to a man from Deerfield who was up with his son to take advantage of Jericho Mountain State Park. He spent $500 for a two day trip, all of it in Gorham. That is the market Berlin has to tap into.
Berlin got $60 of his money because he broke his clutch lever twice, but otherwise he didn’t spend a penny in the city. But he brought his money up, and so do other people.
I was at Jericho Motorsports, across U.S. Route 110 from the park, and I met a couple from Massachusetts who came up for the day to ride. They rented ATVs and spent the day in the park. That was another $150.
With this money is coming to town, how can Berlin get its cut? The ATV businesses are actually doing a good job of it, but there is so little other infrastructure in town it doesn’t spread to Main Street.
But it will. The park has been there for three years, and Councilor Tim Cayer said the Blue Line, that will provide access between the park and Success, is almost complete. This will significantly increase the number of trails available without reloading the trailer. When all this is complete even more riders will come.
And then the hotels will come, and more restaurants, and more stores. Right about the same time as the new prison. Everything, in fact, is looking up.
I don’t ride ATVs or snowmobiles, but I can’t argue with the transformative potential of motorsports. Don’t believe me? Go to Jericho Mountain and ask where people are from; they are from Massachusetts, southern New Hampshire, Maine and Connecticut. People come to Berlin for this, and it’s time to capitalize.
Again, I’d like to see rock climbing and paddling take over as the draw, but there isn’t the traffic yet to build a hotel for those people. The ATVs, however, are there in enough numbers to do it. Someone with an entrepreneurial spirit would be smart to do it now. And Berlin would be smart to embrace it.

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