by Doug McClure
HARDWICK – It has been two months since the Pedestrian and Safety Task Force made a series of recommendations to the Hardwick Select Board on August 6. On September 30, a serious accident took place in town involving two pedestrians and a vehicle.
While confirmation of the driver’s speed for the September 30 accident has not been released, Hardwick Police Chief Aaron Cochran stated on multiple occasions the town’s police force is “spread thin” and cannot patrol the village for speeding without court-supportable evidence, which would require placing a speed sign on South Main Street.
The task force in August recommended installing “flashing crosswalk signs” at the crosswalk connecting the Clip Joint and the Laundry, and the Co-op/Swinging Bridge location. Town Manager Shaun Fielder said at the October 1 meeting that the signs had been ordered.
The task force also recommended repainting the crosswalks a high-visibility color, which will not take place until Spring 2021, at the earliest.
A third recommendation was to eliminate a parking space on each side of each end of the crosswalks with a required “20-feet buffer zone.” The task force also recommended “a concrete planter or other impediment for the space preceding the crosswalk between the Clip Joint and the Laundry.” No immediate action has been discussed to repaint or remove spaces to comply with state law. In its August 6 recommendation, the task force said, “Although the parking spaces have already been delineated for the 2020 summer season, the [planning commission] recommends that the elimination occur as soon as feasible.”
Addressing the recommendation on August 20, Fielder said that while he understands the reasoning behind the recommendations he was concerned for downtown businesses. “It’s tight right now,” he said. “I just think if you start talking about taking away some of the [parking] spots right now with the Vermont State of Emergency on and foliage season [coming], it’s really going to be a challenge for some of those businesses.”
A recommended modification for painted “stop, wait, wave” signs at crosswalks was recently fulfilled. Another recommendation currently underway is implementing what Fielder described as a “split-rail” fence on the berm above the town parking area adjacent to the Hardwick Village Restaurant. The town installed bike racks at the park between the Hardwick Village Restaurant and the Hardwick Gazette building.
Another recommendation soon to go forward is moving the ADA-accessible parking space in front of the post office back one space to improve sight lines for drivers exiting the parking lot. Fielder said at the October 1 select board meeting to expect the move in the next “two to four weeks”.
Recommendations yet to see action include installing a speed sign before the entrance to the village (prior to the Glenside intersection); new signage directing cars to alternate parking; a street decal (bicycle symbol) to reminds people bikes can/will be in the road; educating younger riders about sidewalk and crosswalk safety; new crosswalks near the Church-W. Church/North Main Street intersection and on North Main Street near the Municipal Building parking lot; a new crosswalk near the northern end of the bridge on Main Street; a new crosswalk to the Cherry Street area; upgrading the town’s parking area at the intersection of Mill Street and Perry Lane; and removing parking from the intersection at Route 14/15.