Middletown Township has a number of beautiful parks and greenbelts. The parks provide an oasis of greenery in an otherwise developed landscape. They are there for the enjoyment of all residents who follow the rules established to protect the parks and those using them.
People riding all-terrain vehicles, dirt bikes and snowmobiles have used our parks like private tracks. These "motorized menaces" are extremely dangerous, not only to the riders, but also to pedestrians and bicyclists within the parks. The noise they create also makes them annoying to those who live nearby. While many parks have paved, designated areas where properly registered vehicles may be parked, there is an ordinance that prohibits any other use of motorized vehicles in a township-owned park without the approval of the township manager. A violation of this ordinance results in the issuance to the driver of a citation that carries a fine of up to $1,000 and/or 90 days in jail. A police officer may also have the vehicle towed, pending proof of ownership, and towing is at the owner's expense. A typical towing fee is $125 a storage fee is approximately $25 per day. Drivers whose vehicles cause damage to park property are responsible for repair costs and may also be cited for Criminal Mischief under the Pennsylvania Crimes Code (with a fine of up to $350). When a crime of vandalism goes unsolved, the taxpayer has the burden of the damages.
Residents should be aware that in Pennsylvania, snowmobiles may only be driven on state-approved highways during specific conditions. All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and dirt bikes can not be driven legally on roadways unless they are registered and insured and the driver is properly licensed. The fines for violating the law in this regard can be quite steep, and summary citations can result in the suspension of a driver's operating privileges. There are no legal places to ride these vehicles in Middletown Township, with the exception of private property when the owner's permission is given. Parents who provide ATVs and dirt bikes to their children are putting them at risk of serious bodily injury should they use them improperly. Many youthful violators (and some not so youthful) have been charged with the misdemeanor crime of Fleeing or Eluding Police when they failed to comply with an officer's orders to stop. This crime has the potential to be a permanent part of a person's criminal history record and can result in jail time for the offender.
The police department needs your help in identifying those who own and ride these vehicles on our streets and in our parks. If you call about one of these vehicles being operated illegally and you know where the driver is from, give the information to the dispatcher. If we know where the violators live, we can get them when they return to their residence. The township's parks are for its residents, but they must be respected so they can continue to provide beauty and a safe place for recreation for years to come.