Letters to the Editor

Pedestrian crossing beacons
I would like to add an observation regarding the pedestrian crossing beacons (“Safer Crosswalks,” June 11, Williston Observer). I support having one at the library crossing for sure, the other two I’m not so sure we need, especially the one at the Brick Church being so close to the library one. However, I take major issue with the comment that the current pedestrian crossing beacons are used regularly. That is very misleading, in fact the one on North Williston road I have never seen activated, nor any one even crossing at that location. I travel this road several times each week at all hours of day and evening, never used. This location was poorly chosen. It actually crosses to a grass lawn area on the east side, on a slope, no sidewalk. It has been there for many years, probably costing us money for maintenance and repairs. Why not be good stewards of the public money and relocate this one to one of the other sites as well as avoiding the future maintenance cost of an extra light set? Just because we apply for a grant does not make it free money — we are also state taxpayers remember. Unfortunately, I suspect that local politics may trump prudent use of taxpayers’ money.
John Marcotte
Rapid flash beacons
Dear Selectboard members:
I am writing to tell you of my deep disappointment in your decision to install rapid flash beacons in the beautiful historic section of Williston by our library and the Old Brick Church. As I read of this in the Williston Observer (“Safer crosswalks,” June 11), I could not imagine what you were thinking! These modern day devices have no place flashing in this part of our town. We have sufficient crosswalks and road speed to assure safe road crossings. I live on Old Stage Road, where I witness minimal issues with being able to cross at either of these locations. I find the beacon rarely used on Mountain View Road (never in fact), and walk by there regularly. Even the beacon located on lovely Old Stage Road was unnecessary with the crosswalk location and 35 mph road speed. These monstrosities do not belong in a small, historic community, but in a more commercial district such as the one being installed on Industrial Avenue.
Please do not destruct the beauty, tradition and delight we hold in the picturesque community we have here in the town of Williston by erecting such contemporary devices that not only are unnecessary, but a true blight on the locations you have chosen to place them, the worse of these locations being right in the center of our historic district. Please keep this in mind with your future decision-making. Keep our historic district historic! With all the construction and commercialized development that goes on in Taft Corners, we need to focus on keeping this small area true to our Williston roots.
Peggy Roy Portelance

Pedestrian beacons
Regarding the article “Safer Crosswalks” in The Williston Observer of June 11, the author stated incorrectly, “ …it is already Vermont state law to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk.” Vermont state law states otherwise  —  “Vehicles shall slow or stop to allow a pedestrian already in a crosswalk to cross the road.”
Pedestrian crossing law in Vermont is nuanced and requires careful reading, as I found when cited incorrectly in Montpelier. In some cases, neither pedestrians, drivers, law enforcement nor the judicial system are knowledgeable of pedestrian crossing law and prosecute incorrectly, as in the following example. After deciding to contest an alleged pedestrian crossing violation charged against myself, I discovered that the judge presiding in the initial hearing cited a law which was irrelevant and, further, passed judgment for the state based on testimony of the officer who wrote the ticket without benefit of viewing the cruiser video, unavailable due to technical malfunction at the time of the hearing, which testimony amounted to inaccurate hearsay. Unsatisfied, I contested the judgment and requested a trial, at which time the cruiser video was then available showing that in fact I had navigated the crosswalk in accord with the law, “Vehicles shall SLOW or stop …” The previous judgment for the state was overturned in my favor. This enlightening episode inspired me to study pedestrian crossing law, as should those publishing influential commentary regarding public safety on this subject. Take note that while a pedestrian is walking across a marked pedestrian crossing, in absence of a traffic light, an approaching vehicle may either stop or slow, providing that continuing without stopping is accomplished in a safe manner and does not endanger the pedestrian. Both pedestrians and drivers must understand the responsibilities of both parties in order to travel safely, and avoid consequence.
Nick McDougal