Rockingham residents discuss Lower Bartonsville Road

Residents Stephen Chipman, Sarah Jane, and Deb and John Hart all attended the meeting to speak to the speeding on the road. Photo provided

ROCKINGHAM, Vt. – On Tuesday, July 12, the Rockingham Selectboard heard concerns from residents on Lower Bartonsville Road about excessive speeding and illegal usage at the gravel pit.

Municipal Manager Scott Pickup invited the residents in attendance, Stephen Chipman, Sarah Jane, and Deb and John Hart, to the dais. Chair Peter Golec introduced the presented information that noted speeding issues and the costs for the proposed Windham County Sheriff were $60 per hour. The residents of Lower Bartonsville Road were looking for coverage of 30 hours a month, Golec said, which equated to $1,800 a month or $22,600 a year. He pointed out there was no money in the budget for such expenditures and that other Rockingham residents objected to paying for coverage for just one area. Chipman said we pay taxes too and asked what their options were.

Golec said if the board decided to provide police protection, it would be for the entire Town of Rockingham and that everyone would want the same coverage. He suggested having spot speed checks.

Vice-Chair Susan Hammond, also a resident of Lower Bartonsville, said the biggest offenders were commuters going south in the morning and north in the evening.

Recently, the Town’s speed sign collected data showing roughly 4,100 cars in a month-long period with the majority of traffic clocked between 25 and 40 miles per hour.

Bonnie North said that, in a similar case, a Baltimore, Md. neighborhood formed a special zone and covered the costs for policing by that neighborhood.

Hammond explained that the speeding complaints were on other roads, so the coverage was needed throughout Rockingham. She said, “The issue is whether we want to budget [in a] contract for speed control,” and the importance of having a police response when there was a complaint. She suggested a Rockingham town-wide contract with Windham County Sheriff on roads for both speed control and drivers using their cell phones.

Hammond mentioned that the speed limit on Lower Bartonsville Road was only 25, but that the speed sign was programmed for over 40 mph. She suggested in the future that the sign should be programmed for over 25 mph, not over 40 mph. Hammond pointed out that most of the drivers were going over 25, and “even going over 30 mph was a problem” on a narrow residential road.

Golec agreed that cell phone usage was a problem and noted seeing drivers on their phones going through the Square. He said there were speeding issues everywhere and residents on Back Westminster Road were concerned with the impending bridge construction on Route 121.

Cowan asked about speed bumps. He mentioned the gravel pit; complaints involved target practice and dirt bike racing. He said, “[He] felt the town had responsibility” as it is town property.

Pickup agreed that the Highway Department did not support speed bumps due to the damage caused to plow trucks. Zimmer suggested speed bumps on Lower Bartonsville and in the Square, but agreed that they alone won’t solve the problem. He suggested combining them with policing and installing speed radar signs.

Hart was concerned about retaliation if speed bumps were installed. Jane agreed, and said she often walked with children and dogs and the way people responded with road rage to her calling “slow down.” Jane said residents were anxious and there was no one to call if there was an issue. She said, they just needed a presence.

Pickup said Westminster and Saxtons River were experiencing issues with the Sheriff meeting their obligations. He said if they pursued the Sheriff, they must ask first if they were able to cover the issues. Pickup suggested installing temporary speed bumps with a neighborhood petition. Hammond suggested removing them before winter because even the previous Highway Director said speed bumps would destroy the plow trucks and the trucks would destroy the humps. Golec suggested adding this to a future meeting agenda and to budget discussions in the fall.

The next Selectboard meeting is Tuesday, Aug. 9, and will be held at the Rockingham Meeting House. There will be no recording or ability to attend by Zoom and all are invited to attend at 6 p.m.

On Tuesday, Sept. 13, the design for the Depot Street Bridge will be presented.


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