Dummerston questions park-and-ride project



Brattleboro Reformer

DUMMERSTON -- Town officials say they support the idea of a park-and-ride facility off Exit 4 of Interstate 91.

But some members of Dummerston Selectboard have concerns about the state’s plans to pave and light that lot, which would be located at the Putney/Dummerston line.

Officials also are questioning the need for an 82-space lot for commuters.

"The park-and-ride facility at the West Dummerston Covered Bridge is much smaller than the proposed project and is rarely if ever full," Dummerston Selectboard member Joe Cook wrote on behalf of a majority of the board.

"It is difficult to envision the need for a facility to accommodate 82 vehicles at the proposed location."

Cook’s letter to the Dummerston Development Review Board and the Vermont Agency of Transportation comes just before a public meeting about the park-and-ride project scheduled for 7 p.m. today at the Putney Fire Station.

The session is a joint meeting of the Putney and Dummerston development review boards and will be preceded by a site visit scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

Most of the proposed park and ride would be in Putney on state-owned land adjacent to the town’s fire station. The new lot will require relocation of Putney’s recycling drop-off bins.

VTrans officials have said the project is scheduled for construction in spring 2014.

Some -- though not all -- Dummerston Selectboard members are hoping the state may reconsider some aspects of the project. The facility’s size is the board’s "biggest question," Cook’s letter says.

"Although we recognize that the resulting costs might be greater, the Agency of Transportation might want to consider building a smaller facility and expand it if motorists become unable to find parking spaces," Cook wrote.

Dummerston officials’ objections to paving and lighting the park-and-ride lot are based on the town plan. Cook wrote that the plan "calls for us to minimize impervious surfaces for future development."

"If a gravel park-and-ride lot were to become unduly difficult to maintain, it could subsequently be paved," he wrote.

Cook’s letter also notes that the VTrans plans call for six lights mounted on 20-foot poles.

However, Dummerston’s town plan "calls for us to protect views of the night sky, eliminate glare and minimize light pollution" and also "to use site planning, landscaping and structure design to maximize the potential for energy conservation by reducing the demand for artificial heating, cooling, ventilation and lighting," Cook wrote.

"If the absence of light fixtures at the proposed park-and-ride facility presents safety concerns, those light fixtures can be installed at a later date," the letter advises.

Dummerston Selectboard member Steve Glabach said he appreciates such concerns but did not support sending the letter.

"This happens to be one of the things that I think is the right thing for communities to do," Glabach said. "I was a little discouraged."

He pointed to demand for park-and-ride lots in other towns off I-91, including Ascutney and Springfield, adding that such facilities also encourage the use of public transportation.

"I think we should be going ahead and doing it (with 82 parking spaces)," Glabach said. "I think there’s clearly a need."

Glabach said lighting the lot is a "safety and security issue" for commuters who would return to their vehicles after dark. And he contends that paving the lot will make it more consistently usable.

"I can’t imagine that we wouldn’t pave it," Glabach said. "I think that’s a safety issue for delineating parking spots and for keeping it bare in the winter."


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