By Tom Gresham
Rossignol Park sits well below the surrounding traffic of Industrial Avenue and North Brownell Road, creating a decidedly isolated oasis.
Rossignol’s intimacy is both its best and worst quality, giving it a relaxed environment for a leisurely tennis match while also emboldening vandals and other social misfits. A man recently exposed himself to a female jogger at the park in the middle of a Friday afternoon.
For years, the town of Williston has hoped to fill in the park and raise it to the level of Industrial Avenue. The fill would come from construction of the Circumferential Highway through town.
The plan would solve concerns with the park’s seclusion, but, perhaps more importantly, it would produce much-needed park space for the town. Recreation Director Kevin Finnegan said the available land for recreation facilities at the park would grow from 3-1/2 acres to 5-1/2 acres.
Recreation Committee member Kevin Armstrong said he likes Rossignol the way it is — “it is neat to be down in that hole like that” — but still believes the plan to fill the park would best serve the town.
“I haven’t heard anybody say don’t fill it,” Armstrong said. “It would be an advantage for it to be more visible, and it would be great to get all that space.”
Little League players and fans and those that use the tennis courts are particularly appreciative of the park’s current isolated nature.
“It’s really what makes it unique,” said Martha Chevalier, a Williston resident who mostly visits the park for her sons’ Little League games. “It’s what gives it a lot of character. I really like it.”
However, Finnegan said use at the park is not very high, perhaps because it does not seem welcoming from the road, and safety concerns accompany the location.
In addition to the recent flashing incident, Rossignol was also the scene of a man exposing himself in 1999 (police made an arrest in that case). However, a search of the police database showed just eight complaints at the park since 2000. All were minor.
Williston Police Chief Ozzie Glidden said Rossignol Park is similar to most secluded spots.
“It really is a pretty little spot,” Glidden said. “People who use it should just temper that with common sense. It’s not a place for a child or female to go alone without taking some precautions, but I wouldn’t call it dangerous either.”
Glidden said the park’s privacy tends to attract people using alcohol and illegal drugs. Finnegan said municipal employees clean up empty beer bottles at the park most Mondays in the summer, and vandalism has been a frequent problem.
Municipal officials remain uncertain whether the plan to fill the park will ever be realized. Not only is the future of the Circ undetermined, but the town might not win the bid to store the fill.
“I think to get that much fill without the Circ is pretty much unthinkable,” Finnegan said.
In the meantime, the Selectboard has budgeted funds for maintenance improvements at the park. The board had postponed the improvements when construction of the Circ appeared ready to begin.