(This story was first published in the April 11, 2013 edition of the Vermont Standard.)
By Michelle Fields
About 100 people will soon be receiving a letter offering them a deal; pay 50 percent of their outstanding village parking fines within 60 days or have their cars towed.
These 100 people collectively owe almost $18,000 in outstanding parking fines that range from $51 to $1,238 each.
“We always struggle with how we enforce this, we have never wanted to tow anyone,” said Trustee Chair Candace Coburn during this week’s meeting.
The ordinance allows towing, according to Village Manager Phil Swanson.
“But in trying to be kinder and gentler, no one has been towed in a number of years,” said Village Manager Phil Swanson.
Trustee Eric Nesbitt agreed with the “amnesty” plan.
“I say that if they do not pay at half price in 60 days, tow them,” said Nesbitt. “It is not fair to the people who use the Frost Mills Lot and walk to their destination.”
The Trustees accepted the suggestion of Police Chief Robbie Blish in approving the forgiveness in fees with the caveat that if they are not paid in 60 days and the vehicle is parked in a metered spot in the village, it will be towed. Vehicle owners would then be responsible for paying both the towing and storage fees to release their vehicle.
Coburn noted that parking meters were added in the village to encourage turnover.
“Employers have a responsibility to tell their employees, between these business times 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., don’t park there,” said Woodstock Chamber of Commerce Director Beth Finlayson.
Village Manager Phil Swanson said the village tries to be flexible allowing contractors working in the village to place cones in a slot to reserve it when they have to go for supplies.
Currently, those who receive a parking ticket in the village can go to a local merchant to get a sticker to have up to two tickets in a year forgiven. Those who do not do this or who have exceeded two tickets in a year, get a $10 ticket that must be paid in 14 days. If it is not paid, a $25 penalty is added each month, thus the large balances for some individuals.
In other business, the Trustees voted to remove two sheds at the jungle snow dump site at the east end of the village. Remaining unspent funds from engineering fees for the proposed snow dump site on Maxham Meadow Way will be used to cover most of the $10,000 expense.
“I don’t have any problem using these revenues. It think it is dangerous and those sheds should come down,” said Coburn.
Swanson noted that Woodstock Historical Society Director Jack Anderson has evaluated the buildings and asked that they be documented and cataloged before being removed, which the village will do.
Work began this week on the River Street retaining wall project. The entrance to River Street from Elm Street is blocked while this work is being completed.
“It will remain closed for eight to 12 weeks,” said Swanson. “Pedestrians are not allowed through either…it is a very deep cut and it will be dangerous.”
Residents can still access their properties from the Route 4 entrance to the road, Swanson said.
Trustees will determine the color of the concrete wall at their next meeting.
“We will match the rocks as much as we can so it does not stick out,” said Coburn.
Though discussion of revisions to the Village Noise Ordinance continued this month, Trustees postponed a final vote to clarify a few issues. Resident Corwin Sharp emphasized that “anything in moderation is fine,” in relation to outdoor music events at the Woodstock Inn but also noted that “basically all we hear as neighbors is the heavy base.”
Trustees noted that while they were generally in favor of the proposed changes that would allow outdoor music until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights (as opposed to 10 p.m. all other nights), delay outdoor noise such as lawn maintenance equipment until 8 a.m. on Sunday mornings (it is currently 7 a.m. seven days a week) as well as a few other changes, they may want to consider separating commercial noise from that of private residents as was suggested in a recent letter from resident Clayton Gillette. They will revisit this issue at next month’s meeting.
To subscribe to an electronic edition of the Vermont Standard and get your local news every Wednesday night at 8 p.m. click here. – Only $25/year