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Montague Ramblers get 2-year lease extension

A rider exits the Mohawk Ramblers Montague Plains clubhouse area for the "Save the Ramblers" ride in July.
(Recorder/Micky Bedell)

A rider exits the Mohawk Ramblers Montague Plains clubhouse area for the "Save the Ramblers" ride in July. (Recorder/Micky Bedell) Purchase photo reprints »

MONTAGUE — The Mohawk Ramblers continue to fight their eviction, now with a little more breathing room and the possibility of a land swap to preserve their clubhouse on the Montague Plains.

Ramblers member John Burek said the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife agreed to extend the motorcycle club’s lease of two acres in the Montague Plains for two years, offering the extension at a meeting brokered last month by state Rep. Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington.

“We got a two-year extension, but it’s pretty much what they came in with,” Burek said. “It gives us two years to try to come up with another solution, which is good and it’s not good, because this cloud has been hanging over the club.”

Fisheries and Wildlife plans to raze the building and reintegrate the property into the Montague Plains Wildflife Management Area, the largest inland pine barrens in New England.

The agency had ordered the club to leave by June 14 in a letter sent last November, but later agreed to let the club through the end of the year, at Kulik’s request, while a meeting was arranged.

Burek left the meeting with the impression that the club and its backers — who include the town Board of Selectmen and the close to 2,000 people who signed a petition — have no leverage with the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

Burek said the club members were told they could trade for the land they are on, by buying and giving the DFW three acres on or abutting the Plains in exchange for the two acres and a cinder-block building off Bartlett Road they have leased from various landlords since the mid-1960s.

“They want us to give them three acres for two acres, which to me is tyranny at its finest,” Burek said. Burek said officials also appeared unimpressed by the club’s argument that members keep their area of the Plains clean by discouraging dumpers and picking up trash, with the suggestion that the roads into the Plains may simply be sealed off.

Club leaders planned to meet Thursday evening to discuss their next steps, Burek said.

Christopher Boutwell, chairman of the Montague Board of Selectmen, attended to represent the views of the board, which signed a letter in support of the club and has lauded the club for its record in the community.

“I spoke my piece and supported them. Of course, the officials from the state I don’t think cared to hear that,” Boutwell said.

You can reach Chris Curtis at: ccurtis@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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