Rockingham eyes time limits for Park & Ride lot

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BELLOWS FALLS — Town officials want to make sure the Park-and-Ride lot on Route 5 doesn't become a permanent location for abandoned vehicles.

The Rockingham Select Board took the first step to establish an ordinance to prohibit long-term parking on the town-owned lot, which is next to the headquarters of Connecticut River Transit and close to the Exit 6 northbound exit off Interstate 91. Town Manager Wendy Harrison said the goal is to encourage the use of the lot, but not let it be abused.

Vermont Agency of Transportation Park-and-Ride areas are intended for commuters to leave their vehicles before taking public transportation or carpooling.

"The purpose of Park-and Rides is to share long journeys and to make it easy for people to do that," Harrison said. "It's a really important part of the state's long-term energy goals."

According to the state website, all Vermont State Park-and-Ride locations except for the Rutland Parking Garage are free and open 24 hours, seven days a week. But that doesn't mean a vehicle can be left there forever, Harrison said.

The new town ordinance will set "reasonable" time limits for vehicles.

"It almost invites abandoned vehicles," Select Board member Stefan Golec said of the lot on Route 5.

Harrison said a discussion last week was the first reading of the proposed ordinance and that the Rockingham board will again discuss the ordinance at its meeting next month.

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She said while the lot can be used for long-term parking for a couple of weeks, unregistered vehicles and camper-trailers are not allowed.

A recent visit to the lot showed fewer than a handful of cars, and one New Hampshire car that had been there several weeks.

Harrison said the police will look into the New Hampshire car.

"People can leave their cars long-term, but it's not supposed to be storage. ... And we don't want abandoned vehicles either," Harrison said. "You cannot camp there."

There have been cases where people have left vehicles for weeks, if not longer.

Unlike most of the Park-and-Ride facilities in the state, the lot in Rockingham is owned by the town and not the state. Earlier this year, Harrison, as town manager, evicted someone who was living there in a camper trailer and had also hooked up to the electric car charging station. She said she used an existing town ordinance to evict the person.

The electric car charging stations are just for vehicles, she said.

"Overnight camping, abandoned vehicles and commercial enterprise are prohibited at the Park-and-Ride facilities and all Rockingham parking lots," the proposed ordinance reads.

Contact Susan Smallheer at ssmallheer@reformer.com or at 802 254-2311, ext. 154.


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