By Kara Herlihy
Sugarbush resort owner Win Smith appeared before the Warren Select Board to discuss a letter he sent to the town expressing his concerns about new state signage at the bottom of the Sugarbush Access Road.
Select board members reviewed the letter at their December 9 meeting and requested that Smith attend their next meeting this week to voice his concerns in person.
The signage in question warns motorists of "treacherous, windy mountain roads" and further states that "snow tires are required."
Smith said his primary issue with the signage is the message that it relays to out-of-town skiers and the propensity to discourage them from traveling on The Valley road.
Smith said the town needs to consider "how we welcome guests to The Valley" as well as the accuracy of the sign's implications. In his letter, Smith said the signage "makes the access road appear treacherous, and it is not."
He also wrote that Sugarbush turns 50 years old this year and there have never been any problems with the access road that would deem such a cautionary sign.
Smith said that the message welcoming visitors to The Valley should "be festive" and can still caution drivers of The Valley's "scenic mountain roads" at the same time.
Select board chair Burt Bauchner said that The Valley's roads are not comparable to those of western ski areas, and while local residents are familiar with the roads, out-of-state visitors should be cautioned of potentially hazardous roads.
Town Administrator Cindi Hartshorn-Jones said that according to the sheriff, who provides her with weekly traffic updates, traffic on the Sugarbush Access Road has "slowed considerably" since the signage went up.
REQUIRED VS. RECOMMENDED
Members of the select board revisited a discussion they had at the December 9 meeting about the signage language and questioned whether "snow tires required" could be changed to "recommended."
Warren Road Foreman Raemon Weston suggested at the December 9 meeting that the select board consult the town's attorney to see if the town can be held liable without cautionary signage warning drivers about the conditions of the roads.
Weston added that the road "is a safety issue for the road crew" when people drive without snow tires in inclement conditions. The signage was put up by the state and members of the select board said they will investigate possible changes to the language so as to avoid discouraging visitors from traveling the road.