By Tom Gresham
Town Manager Rick McGuire told the Selectboard last week that a meeting to address a new study for a proposed park and ride facility in Williston has been postponed.
Town officials have been frustrated with the slow pace of progress on studying a park and ride for Williston. The meeting, now set for later this month, will include a committee and a consultant selected to assist with reopening a scoping study for the project.
Last summer, the town asked the state to reopen a study done in 2000 that examined potential locations for a park and ride in Williston. The original study selected a field behind the state police barracks on Vermont Route 2A as the best site for the project. The field is part of the Maple Tree Place property.
Several obstacles exist for the property, including questions of right of way with Maple Tree Place and the traffic volumes on Vermont Route 2A. The steering committee asked the state to continue to evaluate the chosen site, while investigating other possible sites, too.
Municipal officials believe a park and ride facility would help ease the volume of traffic on Williston’s roads, particularly at the Interstate 89 interchange.
Local option taxes
Williston enjoyed a strong first quarter to 2005 in returns from its local option taxes.
The 1 percent sales tax brought in $598,386 in revenue to the town in January through March – a sharp increase over the $520,933 the tax generated for Williston from last year over the same period. The town also received $51,007 in rooms and meals tax returns, amounting to a 22 percent increase over the same quarter of last year.
In all, the local option taxes have produced $2,216,666 in revenue for the town in the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. The town had projected $2.3 million in revenue from the taxes. Now, Susan Lamb, the town treasurer, said a surplus of approximately $400,000 seems likely.
The 1 percent local option sales tax was added to the existing 5 percent state sales tax on July 1, 2002. The town receives 80 percent of the revenue produced by the tax; the state keeps the remainder in return for handling administration of the tax.
Williston added a 1 percent local rooms and meals tax onto the existing 9 percent state rooms and meals tax on July 1, 2003.
Williston used revenues from the local option taxes to lower the municipal property tax rate from $0.33 to $0.08 for the 2004-05 fiscal year.
Brennan Woods speeders
Stephen Casale became the second Brennan Woods resident in about a month to appear before the Selectboard to voice his distress at traffic speeds in the large residential development.
Casale brought along his two children, Sadie and Cole, to the Selectboard’s June 6 meeting to talk to the board about what he described as the frequently excessive speed of traffic in the development’s streets.
As an example, Casale said a pizza delivery driver was clocked going 50 miles per hour through the neighborhood. He said Sadie was in danger of being struck by the vehicle.
Casale noted that Brennan Woods currently has some “hot tempers” about the speed of traffic in its neighborhood.
“It’s only a matter of time before there is an altercation over this,” Casale said.
Fred Reiner, a Brennan Woods resident, had visited the Selectboard to register his concerns with traffic in the neighborhood in May. The town has worked with a consultant to formulate a traffic-calming plan for Brennan Woods. It sent the proposal to the Brennan Woods Homeowners Association for comment in April.
Casale thanked the Selectboard for the town’s work toward installing traffic calming measures. The town cannot move forward with any proposed measures until it assumes ownership of the development’s roads. Snyder Companies, the developer of Brennan Woods, still owns the roads.
“I find it frustrating that we’re not able to do more,” Selectboard member Ted Kenney.
Allen Brook study
The town will pay $6,000 a year for the next five years in an effort to document stream conditions at the Allen Brook.
The town’s expenses cover about half of the cost for the project, which involves the installation of a stream gauge in the Allen Brook. Participating agencies include the Agency of Natural Resources, the Agency of Transportation and the U.S. Geological Survey.
Selectboard member Jeff Fehrs asked whether the funds were available for the town to participate in the project. Town Manager Rick McGuire said the money was in the budget.