After mixed outcome in mediation, Selectboard set to weigh in on park-and-ride project

PUTNEY — A mediation session held on March 21 may lead to some modifications to a proposed 84-space park-and-ride lot that the state Agency of Transportation (AOT) wants to build on land it owns near Exit 4 of Interstate 91.

Putney resident Daniel Hoviss, who advocates building a smaller, more energy-efficient parking area, said in an email on Monday that the session was “somewhat successful” and that the AOT “were willing to commit to a number of concessions that will make this a better project.”

In his appeal of the project to the state Environmental Court, Hoviss said he would like to see the project scaled back to 36 spaces, with six reserved for handicapped motorists. He also wanted to see the lighting changed, with Smart LEDs with motion sensors that would be turned on only when needed.

Other changes sought include four high-capacity 220-volt Level II charging stations for electric vehicles, a larger bus shelter and bike rack, and a sidewalk that connects from the lot to the corner of Route 5 and Alice Holloway Road (near the Putney Food Co-op).

“The mission of mediation is to reach a compromise and, disappointingly, the AOT said no to a smaller project, no to fewer lights, no to motion sensing, no to dual-brightness lighting, no to solar lighting, no for a light to illuminate the recycle area and the entrance to the facility, no to a sidewalk as part of this project, no to pervious pavement, and no to [Level II] charging stations,” said Hoviss.

However, AOT agreed to install six Level I chargers, making the Putney site the first in the state to have them. They do not recharge vehicles as quickly as do the Level II chargers, and Hoviss indicated that he would work on getting Level II chargers installed.

AOT also agreed to build a covered bike shelter that would accommodate up to 12 bikes, and agreed to continue the discussion about lighting alternatives for the lot.

These steps, Hoviss said, prompted him to sign an agreement with the state that would allow the project to move forward after the town Selectboard vets the agreement.

A petition, signed by more than 255 people, was submitted to Town Manager Cynthia Stoddard in support of a smaller project, Hoviss said. The Selectboard is expected to take up the matter at its regularly scheduled meeting at Town Hall on March 26 at 5:30 p.m.

Earlier in March, crews began cutting down trees and doing preliminary site work. Hoviss objected and sought an emergency injunction to halt all work until after the mediation session. That injunction was granted.

Stoddard and Selectboard Chair Joshua Laughlin attended the March 21 mediation session. In an email to The Commons, Stoddard said that the Selectboard “supports the Park and Ride as approved by the Development Review Board.”

Stoddard said the Selectboard is aware that an appeal has been filed with the Environmental Court supported by some residents who have concerns, adding, the town “has not made any demands upon the Agency of Transportation but, in an effort to balance the interests of all concerned, the Selectboard would prefer that construction be postponed until the Environmental Court rules upon the appeal.”

Hoviss said the appeal process “is not over, and unless the town approves the settlement, we still have opportunity to make the case for a smaller project. So we could be back to more mediation or a hearing May 15, if the Selectboard feels that is warranted. I encourage everyone to visit with Cynthia and to come to the [March 26] meeting to discuss your concerns over lighting or anything you feel to mention about this project.”

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