Garwin Falls parking issues continue to plague Wilton

  • The Select Board will be holding a public hearing on Aug. 13 to discuss banning parking at Vale End Cemetery, where hikers for Garwin Falls have been leaving their cars.  File Photo

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, August 01, 2018 5:40PM

The Wilton Select Board plan to hold a public hearing this month to take feedback on barring parking at Vale End Cemetery.

Last year, the town adopted an ordinance to ban parking on either side of the entrance to Garwin Falls, a privately owned but much-used hiking trail and swimming hole on Isaac Frye Highway.

There are a limited number of parking spots allowed at the trail head, but the ordinance has simply pushed the parking problem to the nearby cemetery, where swimmers have been parking instead.

On Monday selectmen, Police Chief Eric Olesen and Cemetery Trustee Mary Ann Shea discussed creating a new ordinance, one that would allow for the towing of unattended cars at the cemetery.

Initially, Select Board Chairwoman Kellie-Sue Boissonnault said she was in favor of posting the cemetery immediately, but Selectman Kermit Williams said in order to create a new town ordinance related to parking, the board should have a public hearing on the matter.

“We can create that policy, but we have to follow that procedure,” Williams said.

Selectman Matt Fish agreed that the board should go through with the hearing, but do it swiftly, so that it could take effect before the end of summer.

“Let’s have the public hearing and create the bylaws and be done with it,” Fish said.

Williams didn’t voice a specific objection to prohibiting parking at the cemetery, but said not having enough legitimate parking spots was clearly part of the issue.

Williams suggested there may be a way to direct people to the trail access to Garwin Falls from the Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative High School where there is ample parking.

“If people find something attractive in Wilton and it gives us a reputation as an interesting place, that’s a good thing,” he said.

Fish, however, argued that Garwin Falls is not a town-owned property, and the town has already been allocating resources there by having the Department of Public Works pick up trash left there, and the police department patrolling the parking infractions. He said town police should not have to act as “meter maids” to control the parking there.

“It’s a historic problem that’s just getting larger and larger and larger,” Fish said.

The board asked Olesen to write a potential ordinance to bar the parking of unattended cars at the Vale End Cemetery, and to allow them to be towed.

Selectmen agreed to schedule a public hearing on the new ordinance at their next meeting on Aug. 13 at 6 p.m.