October 23, 2014

MEETING TONIGHT: Planning for people

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By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

October 17th, 2013

Local and regional planning groups are looking for public input regarding gaps in bike and pedestrian access on three busy Williston roads.

The town and the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission are hosting a public meeting Oct. 17, looking into solutions for gaps on Vt. Route 2A, Mountain View Road and U.S. Route 2. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the Town Hall.

CCRPC Senior Transportation Planner Christine Forde said the studies are feasibility studies, an early step in the planning process.

Filling the gaps in pedestrian and bike facilities was identified as a need during the process to find alternatives to the cancelled Circ highway. The goal is to “try to find ways people can get around other than driving and to assist with that,” Forde said.

As the name suggests, the studies are intended to determine whether sidewalks and bike paths are feasible along those roads, and whether the town and residents want them.

“It’s not a detailed design,” Forde said. “We’re doing more of a layout to see what can be done and what the challenges are to doing it.”

Mountain View Road resident David Martel said he plans to attend the meeting with a clear message.

“I don’t want it,” he said. “It’s a waste of money. For two months out of the year people use it and the rest of the year it just sits there.”

He said he doesn’t want to encourage people walking near his front lawn with a sidewalk or bike path, and that many of his neighbors don’t have much space to add a path.

“If I want a sidewalk, I’d move to the city,” he said. “I live in a country. I don’t want people in my yard. I don’t need people with their dogs crapping on my front lawn.”

Forde encouraged feedback of all types.

“This is Williston’s project,” she said. “It’s their town. It’s their decision. We want people to communicate one way or another.”

Martel also complained that he nearly missed the warning for the meeting, which he said arrived in a nondescript envelope from consulting company Stantec rather than a town letterhead or certified mail.

“I thought it was junk mail, two of my other neighbors thought it was junk mail,” he said. “I don’t want a bike path, but what upsets me more is how they notified me.”

Forde said the planning commission’s goal is to reach as many affected residents as possible, and appreciated suggestions to more effectively reach people.

“That’s good feedback for us and certainly we would apologize if it looks like it’s not real,” she said.

Residents who are unable to attend and have comments or questions can contact Forde at 846-4490 or [email protected]

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