by Linda Buermeyer, Journal-Opinion
NEWBURY—Some commuters are abandoning Newbury’s Park and Ride citing personal safety concerns due to poor lighting and property loss.
The park and ride, one of 48 in the state, is located at 100 Newbury Crossing Road just east of Route 5. Workers, students, and others park their vehicles to ride public transportation, such as Tri-Valley Transit, or carpool, mostly for destinations south.
The park and ride was built with a $39,000 state grant in 2014 on 1.9 acres of state-owned land on the south side of Newbury Crossing Road. As part of the project, ownership and maintenance was turned over to the town of Newbury.
At the time, the Journal Opinion reported that the grant required at least 10 spaces were to be maintained at the site, while the town intended to add lighting.
The park and ride was developed, in part, to relieve some congestion in Newbury village near the Town Clerk’s office and across from the Newbury Village Store where Tri-Valley Transit, then known as Stagecoach, picked up passengers.
But the lighting never came to fruition while in recent years the park and ride has been susceptible to illicit activity, including at least one car theft in 2021.
A group of concerned Tri-Valley Transit riders brought their concerns before the Newbury Selectboard on Dec. 14.
In a follow-up interview, Haverhill resident Janice Estes said the board was very sympathetic and “open to our concerns.”
“Many of us have been riding the bus for four years,” she said. “It’s been a challenge with the poor lighting.”
They do not feel safe.
The park and ride is tucked in an out-of-the way spot away from the state highway. Estes said the site lends itself to illegal activities and, with a lack of police presence, drug dealing, and the theft of catalytic converters and other items have occurred.
Estes noted that people were pulling in and using the site to work on their cars.
On a late Saturday night in March 2021, a vehicle was reported stolen from the Park and Ride.
After the riders approached made their concerns known, selectboard chair Alma Roystan told the Journal Opinion she contacted Vermont State Police to ask if troopers traveling Route 5 could make a turn onto Newbury Crossing Road to keep an eye out for illegal activity.
According to the Dec. 28 selectboard meeting minutes, Newbury Road Foreman Bob Beaulieu reported he had consulted Green Mountain Power on how to improve the site’s lighting.
Most Vermont’s park and rides are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
There is no time limit for parking; however, camping is not permitted.
The Vermont Park and Ride program was developed to provide safe and convenient parking to encourage travelers to consolidate and reduce single occupancy vehicles on the road.
According to lease agreements with the state, each town is responsible for maintenance.
Trash at the Newbury site has been a problem and board member Jeff McKelvey has been monitoring that.
Those caught littering are subject to a state fine of $500.
In the meantime, several commuters are opting to drive to the Bradford Park and Ride on Route 25 near I-91. It has a more exposed lot and is well-lighted.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Republished from the Journal-Opinion, community newspaper for Bradford and surrounding towns.