October 28, 2016

Town suggests shared parking between school, business

By Kim Howard
Observer staff

The Williston School Board last week was asked to consider sharing a school parking lot with a local business.

Town Planner Lee Nellis and Zoning Administrator D.K. Johnston asked board members to consider a new driveway connecting the Old Brick Café and Williston Central School parking lots. The café is in Williston Village across from Town Hall and adjacent to the Old Brick Church.

Old Brick Café owner David Herskowitz earlier this year proposed enlarging his parking lot by buying .17 acres from the school. Nellis told the School Board the town cannot approve that plan because the parcel is a wetland area of Allen Brook, an impaired watershed.

“There’s certainly no need to pave that wetland when there is enough parking (nearby),” Nellis told the board.

Herskowitz could build a one-way driveway linking the café’s lot with a school-owned parking lot that sits directly behind the Old Brick Church, Nellis said. That lot is used by school visitors and library staff.

A written shared parking agreement, Johnston said, could allow the school to lease parking to Herskowitz at certain times of day, with a presumption space would be available. An agreement could include financial payment to the school, he added.

An inventory by town officials indicated there is sufficient parking for staff in the parking lot west of the school, Nellis said. More parking also is available close to the recreation fields.

“We’re here to suggest to the board that a shared parking arrangement is of benefit to the community,” Nellis said. “We need to have a civics lesson here and an environmental lesson.”

School Board Chairwoman Marty Sundby lauded the idea of not paving over a wetland, but expressed reservations about a driveway linking the two lots.

“If you only allow him one way access between his lot and our lot, all of those cars have to go in front of the school” when they exit, Sundby said. “And that’s a K-8 building.”

Parents who drop off and pick up their children already generate traffic there, according to Nellis.

Sundby said she doesn’t like that either.

“We’ve had this problem all along, but this is going to add to it,” she said.

Board member Holly Rouelle questioned if there would be sufficient parking on Saturdays when soccer games are being played and parking is at a premium.

Nellis said he did not see that as a problem. Once the new police station is built across the street from the Old Brick Café, he said, there will be even more parking in the area. Lunchtime Tuesday through Friday could cause the greatest conflict, Nellis said. The café is not open on Mondays.

Williston Central School Principal Jacqueline Parks said she wants to look at how many staff members are using the lot in question. She said they already have been asked to park in the west lot, meaning that when the front lot is full, it is being filled by visitors.

Liability and monitoring of a shared lot could be concerns, Sundby said.

The board decided to discuss the issue further at its Dec. 7 meeting.


  1. Mary Martin says:

    I would like to explain the charges of unlawful restraint because it sounds really awful. No we didn’t hold anyone hostage. We were simply standing in front of some VT Gas/Michel’s trucks. They were in no way restrained. When the men decided to leave, they simply backed up and took off. The police have been hired by VT Gas and they sure do have a way of turning a phrase.

    Mr. Recchia refers to this action as a “last-ditch” attempt to scuttle the pipeline. Wrong again! This was far from our last attempt to bring sanity and reason to our state officials who refuse to listen or help.

    Nate Palmer and Kari Cuneo and their families are not the only land owners who have fought this immoral taking of their land. So many folks have lost that fight for lack of time and money. It’s quite intimidating to go before the Public Service Board and their team of lawyers, to sit down at a table filled with VT Gas attorneys and not have anyone to watch your back and advise you.

    When people are up against the wall, they fight back any way they can. Peaceful protests not only express our frustration but they help bring attention to what is happening to our friends and neighbors..

    So Mr. Recchia, we are not done!

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