Town of Lowville voices concerns over SNIRT Run’s liability issues

Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 5:40 PM EDT
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TOWN OF LOWVILLE, New York (WWNY) - “A liability nightmare waiting to happen.” That’s how Lowville’s town attorney describes insurance coverage for the upcoming SNIRT Run.

For 17 years, the part snow, part dirt sprint has attracted thousands of people to Lewis County every April.

With the SNIRT Run a month away from this year’s event, the town of Lowville is wondering if the risk of being a part of the event is worth the rewards.

“Ray is really concerned that the town taxpayers are not covered,” said Robert Mullin, town supervisor.

In a letter written to the town board, Lowville Town Attorney Ray Meier raised concerns over the coverage provided by the Barnes-Corners Sno-Pals insurance contracts. Meier’s unease comes from the language in the contracts used by the group.

“Thinking of all the taxpayers in Lowville, we can’t afford a lawsuit. I think the Sno-Pals should have better wording in their insurance, but understand it’s not my decision. It was a unanimous vote, it was five to zero,” said Mullin.

Meir writes that he is puzzled by the usage of the word “spectators” in the policy, and the lack of “participants” anywhere in the documents.

The Sno-Pals estimate that 2,800 “spectators” attend the event each year.

Meir believes the way the policy is currently written, people watching the event would be covered, but people actually participating in the ride would not.

He goes on to point out that when including both riders and spectators, those numbers are far in excess of 2,800 people.

In a statement to 7 News, Sno-Pals President Jim Hearne said that their insurance company has been in touch with the town as of Monday morning and are working to address the town’s concerns. He added that it’s now up to the town of Lowville board to decide if they will allow the use of 2 of their roads needed to access Ridge View Lodge.

We reached out to Ridge View Lodge for comment, but ownership declined to speak with 7 News at this time.