The Waitsfield Select Board and members of the public raised several specific and important concerns about the next phase of sidewalks for Waitsfield Village at a recent meeting.
The town has a 90/10 matching grant to build a sidewalk on the west side of Main Street from the Valley Players Theater to the intersection of Bridge Street/Farr Lane and Main Street. And that’s a good thing.
What’s not good about the first draft of plans are what they do to the already limited parking in Waitsfield Village – it is reduced by 10 spaces or maybe more.
What’s also not good is creating a 9-foot green space near Village Grocery and the Waitsfield Wine Shoppe that would require cutting down a fine shade tree between the two buildings, removing a stone wall and removing the green space in front of Village Grocery (over which the town fought a long legal battle with a previous owner).
It’s not great to cut Waitsfield Wine Shoppe’s three head-in parking spaces – whether VTrans recognizes them or not. Creative minds can (and already have) suggested workarounds and solutions to some of these issues.
VTrans’ planning visions aside, extending the curb into the travel way to shorten the distance people walk on the paved lanes at crosswalks just seems silly and dangerous for cyclists as well as tie rods on vehicles.
Sidewalks are critical to pedestrian access in Waitsfield Village, critical for school children, exercisers, dog walkers, tourists and all of us to get safely from one part of town to another without driving a car.
Waitsfield’s main sidewalk project, some 18 years in the making and two years in construction, adds value to the community. A new section of sidewalk from the intersection of Old County Road and Main Street to the Valley Players Theater included an intersection realignment and a crosswalk and adds value.
This newest section of sidewalk will do so as well. But first it needs to go back to the drawing board for some revision and reworking so that it is a sidewalk that fits into its community rather than a transportation planner’s special being forced into Waitsfield Village.