Brattleboro reclassifies roads


BRATTLEBORO >> Three roads up for reclassification have been given some thought.

"We still have until Aug. 27 to issue the written decisions. While we have drafts of those, they have not yet been finalized," said Select Board Chairman David Gartenstein. "We will be making findings about what's in the public interest and what's not."

The Select Board voted to look at reclassification requests on May 18, then held public hearings and site visits on June 28. The board went into deliberative session and made decisions after its regular meeting on Aug. 4. An announcement came at Tuesday's meeting.

Gartenstein said the town was asked to discontinue Minshall Street after property owners expressed concern about traffic and "potentially dangerous situations" for motor vehicles and pedestrians. The street, which runs from Birge Street to Canal Street behind the Whetstone Church and Kresge's Alignment Services, will be abandoned by the town. But the right of way will be kept so people can get to a trail for walking and biking.

Board members felt it was important to maintain access for pedestrians and cyclists, Gartenstein said, describing a situation where the road would turn into private property. Landowners on each side of Minshall will receive ownership of half of the road.

Daniel Oles, owner of Kresge's Alignment Services on 239 Canal Street, had requested the town discontinue the road from Canal Street to its intersection with Organ Street.

"I'm actually not trying to take any more land or less land from anybody. I'm just trying not to make it a town road. I'm trying to stop through-traffic," Oles told the board in June. "I'm willing to work with the abutters."

Another request saw the town considering whether to take over ownership of Bittersweet Lane. The road is off East Orchard Street and goes onto the Brattleboro Country Club property.

"With only three homes on Bittersweet Lane, there wasn't a significant enough public interest in the town being responsible for maintenance and plowing of that road because it doesn't connect to anything else and really just serves as a driveway at this point to those three homes," Gartenstein said. "We did note that a future board might want to consider it when a subdivision is fully built out and there are seven homes built on there."

And a right of way on Wikopee Hill Road, described by Gartenstein as a major thoroughfare to Dover through Dummerston in the 1860s, will be maintained under town ownership. Reclassification will turn the Class 3 road into a Class 4 road. Gates will go up at Pleasant Valley Road and Gulf Road to keep Wikopee Hill open only for recreational, non-motor and emergency purposes. Also, signs will be posted making it clear that the road is a public trail.

About seven pages of signatures were received by the board encouraging the town to take this action, according to Gartenstein.

"We also have a significant public interest in maintaining access through there because that's how you get to the reservoir and the (Pleasant Valley) Watershed is served by the area," he said. "But on the other hand, there's no particularly good reason from the board's perspective for the town to be plowing and grading the road from Pleasant Valley to (one landowner's house) because there's only one home up there now."

Call Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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