Village safety tops Selectboard meeting

Paths were on the agenda again for the July 26 Selectboard meeting. Village safety for pedestrians and traffic concerns was another item that took significant focus.

After previous votes had failed, Selectboard members were faced with a discussion on the future of the bicycle and pedestrian priority sidewalk and paths map. This agenda item drew a number of residents to the meeting who took the opportunity to offer their views on what the next step with the map should be.

The map was not a decision item at the meeting. Selectboard Chair Gary von Stange endeavored to keep the conversation confined to a discussion of the procedure that should be utilized, rather than a discussion of the merits of individual items, which will happen later.

Three of the paths depicted on the map pose issues. After resident comments and Selectboard discussion, the preference among three of the five members was to deal with the 16 paths that do not pose significant problems separately from the remaining three that do.

At the next board meeting on Aug. 9, Town Manager Joe Colangelo will present members with three options and they will choose one. Von Stange emphasized that everyone is welcome at the upcoming meetings.

There have been a number of concerns expressed by residents about pedestrian and traffic safety in the Village, especially on Falls Road and Marsett Road. This prompted Colangelo to add the issue to the July 26 agenda. While not a decision item, it did allow for a dialogue about problems and the potential for solutions to those issues.
Residents expressed worries about speed, inattentiveness, and other issues that face those navigating Falls Road and Marsett Road. Planning Commissioner Kate Lalley said that there are several road design issues on Falls Road that she would like to see altered such as a wider sidewalk, street parking, and street trees, all of which would make the street look more residential and would hopefully prompt drivers to reduce their speed.

“There’s no reason for people to be able to barrel through there,” Lalley said. The changes would have other benefits as well, such as improving the stormwater situation.
Police Chief James Warden talked about what his department has observed and how they have reacted to certain situations. He said that there is a speed cart utilized throughout the town. Cones, which had been mentioned by a resident, typically get run over. One of the problems that he sees all too frequently are inattentive drivers. Another issue that arises is bicyclists who do not follow the rules of the road and engage in dangerous behaviors such as riding two or three abreast.

Von Stange noted that road safety, especially speeding, is not a concern that is limited just to the Village. While a group of residents were present to speak about Falls and Marsett roads, there have been concerns expressed about essentially every area within the town.

There are a number of options available to address concerns. Colangelo stressed that this is something that they are looking at seriously. It was decided that he would put together a suggestion for the board to consider.
After much work and consideration, the Solar Electric Facility Siting Standards ordinance was adopted. It does not go as far as some would have liked. However, the version is what the town attorney believed to be reasonable.
Members also approved appointing an interview committee for the town clerk appointment process. The group will handle the first stage of the process before the applications go before the board.

The meeting wrapped up with members going into executive session. Members discussed litigation between the town and Vermont Railway and a multi-sector general permit public hearing with the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation.

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