Trustees Talk Parking, Parking, Parking and Parks

Woodstock Early Birds, there was SO much discussed at the Village Trustees last night, but we will try to boil it down to a few bullet points that you might be able to digest:

1. Trustees approved the application for a Park-and-Ride Grant that would gussy up the de facto parking area in The Jungle area across from The Wasp off of Rt. 4 in the Village…parking spaces will be defined and the area made to look nicer.

2. Eric Wegner, on behalf of the Norman Williams Public Library, floated the idea of a two-level parking garage for its property behind the Windsor County Court House. A preliminary idea for a low-level structure such as the one in Hanover. He said parking is such an issue, it’s important to be pro-active and a structure could be built that wouldn’t be too objectionable. Since it is a new concept, little word on price although the 200K number was floated. Trustee Candace Coburn said that clearly, if the idea gels, it would end up being some kind of private-public funding project.

3. Side-Judge David Singer asked for and received approval for the Court and its employees to have use of four parking spaces at an annual rate of $750.

4. Trustee Coburn made a suggestion that the length of the roadway along Vail Field be turned into angled parking in an effort to squeeze in more spaces there.

5. A representative from the Vermont River Conservancy, at the behest of Bob Pear, presented a proposal that the 1.5 acres of Village-designated park land be put into a conservation easement that would guarantee its use as a place accessible to the public for recreational uses. Pear pointed out that money received for doing so could be used to help pay for the re-location of the snow dump to Woodstock Foundation property. Once the snow-dump is moved, efforts could then be made to create a more hospitable public access area.

However, Village Trustees had concerns about making a decision about approving an easement without input from the public and so asked that Pear to conduct a public opinion poll to see whether Villagers would approve it.

They dispensed with the idea of putting the idea to a public vote due to timing.

The Vermont River Conservancy explained many other communities — through Board decision-making — have approved such easements on their public lands and that it’s a competitive process for gaining grants to help create river access areas for the public.

Woodstock Early Bird stated publically that she, personally, thought folks would be okay with the Trustees taking whatever action they needed to in codifying land that has already been designated a park to make it more park-like. However, we also were vehement in our opposition to the idea that decisions should be made via public polling, polling in which the point of view Trustees desire is specifically sought out by pollsters.  This was a long discussion that got bogged down in terminology and we thank both new Trustee Emo Chynoweth for trying to clarify that terminology and Trustee Chris Miller for the acknowledgement that, in general,  government process, in which decisions are made via votes,  should be followed in making decisions.  That said, Trustees say they are only going to use their opinion poll to help guide a decision they can make anyway. To which we pointed out they could have made the decision about the easement on their own last night.

Government is messy and in Woodstock Village it is even messier. Our fear is that a very good idea, a conservation easement for a tiny piece of land to help make a park — and the financial support to do it — will slip out of Woodstock’s fingers because of the Trustees often convoluted and inconsistent thinking.

Trustee Coburn was heard to say that in general  those who show up for meetings to voice their opinions often do not represent the overall public view. That could be true enough. However, we think those who show up at meetings, however small in number,  those who take an active role in government are the ones who should be listened to. Not dismissed as minorities whose opinion does not count.

More and more, this Board of Trustees has ignored the wishes of those many who DO make the effort to attend meetings and ruled as they wish despite that participation. While Trustees might not like the opinions in front of them, we believe the Trustees should be responsive to those who show up. Sometimes  government leaders need to decide in favor of  what the people want versus what they want. Or. Make it simple: Put controversial issues to an actual vote.

The conservation easement issue started with Trustees saying they didn’t feel comfortable making a decision on their own. By discussion’s end, they were saying it is their right to do what they want and they can make such a decision without a vote.  Okay. Which is it?

Warning: Former Trustee Bob Pear may be knocking on a door knear you and it won’t be about knotweed.  We actually think Pear has done some really good work on behalf of the Village in pursuing park and riverbank grants. This may all work out in the end and we will, knotty deeds or not, have Pear to thank for it.

8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Janice on August 8, 2013 at 08:24

    Angled parking by Vail field would require backing out into a well-traveled public roadway, in a location where we know there are many pedestrians also. BAD idea. And a parking garage that “wouldn’t be too objectionable?” Let me be the first to object, and I’m sure I won’t be the last.

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  2. Posted by Diana Brown on August 8, 2013 at 10:42

    I wish I had been at the meeting. Thanks, Julia, for this report/ and all of your thoughts. Personally, I am much better at angled parking than parallel, so would prefer it. We have angled parking already downtown, with parking on the other side and a corner and crosswalks and more driveways-much busier than Vail. Also, because Vail is well posted as a recreation area, the speed limit in both directions is 25 mph for quite a distance.
    Eric, I think a parking garage in the area you suggest is a great idea. Hanover actually has 2 garages I know of- are we talking about the 2 level one behind the Nugget? or the newer one across from the Hop?
    How about reclaiming the spaces in front of the Woodstock Inn across from the Green?

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  3. I wholeheartedly agree. Thank you, thank you Bob. And shame on the trustees for not appreciating and endorsing Bob’s hard work! Willa Nohl

    _____

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  4. Posted by Annie macDonald on August 8, 2013 at 18:47

    thanks to Bob Pear, former trustee who always had facts to support his opinions.

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  5. Why oh why is this village obsessed with parking????

    Having lived here 8 years now and come from afar there really is no issue apart from in the height of the Fall. If only a few more active folks could be encouraged to actually walk a few feet! For instance the idea of parking behind the Woodstock inn or on the streets, such as high street where there is often a space or four, or through the covered bridge in River street, like folks would in any other village all over the world would do, seems to be never mentioned?. As Woodstock village likes to state that it is a walking village…then let some folks walk, by encouraging them to not park on meters.

    In the rest of the developed world parking is controlled by cost…so put up the meter rates, and limit those who want to use the meters by price. If folks still want to park for as long on a meter the village benefits by extra revenue generation.

    And please don’t get us started on the free parking offered on high days and holidays by the Chamber of Commerce……the free parking should be offered if at all, to locals and not tourists who expect to pay to park where ever they visit.

    We have never seen such an obsession with an issue, that rarely actually is an issue!

    Two story garage….in a historic village is in our opinion a laughable suggestion, even before you think of the cost.

    You really couldn’t make this stuff up…..any comedian could have a field day!

    – David, Dora and Daisy Doo at The Woodstocker

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  6. Posted by Elizabeth on August 9, 2013 at 06:56

    On the issue of trustees being able to make a decision on the public easement, that is why WE voted for them…to make decisions on our behalf and that they believe is in furtherance of the good of Woodstock. Let them do their job.

    Note: FYI, in the future we need first and last name in order to post per WEB policy but appreciate your input so are posting you now. -WEB

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  7. $200,000 for a two story parking garage? What are you, high? I smell something burning and it’s not knotweed.

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    • This whole idea was explained as just getting legs, not in any way explored, other than an idea. Wegner was just seeking input and/or “buy-in” from Village Trustees that he could take back to the Norman Williams Public Library Board, so any figures that may have been mentioned were simply “tossed”. WEB

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