While I no longer live in Hinesburg (and never have lived in Shelburne), I would like to offer the following thoughts regarding Shelburne’s Pond Road.
At one point Hinesburg was considering paving Baldwin Road, and the residents of that road unanimously wanted to keep the rural character of the road and not have the town pave it. They were very clear that this was an act of “traffic calming.” The use of the road as a community link still occurs and is a favorite because it is still a dirt road. There is a different level of driver awareness in dirt roads and most often a slower driving speed – these translate into allowing kids to bicycle more safely, horseback riding to occur, and tractor movement isn’t as seen as an irritant.
Years ago when we organized the “Five Town Exchange” – Shelburne, Hinesburg, Monkton, Charlotte, and Ferrisburgh – our various natural areas (from wetlands to town forests) came up as critical places to protect. While I can see the desire for a short-cut and a faster route east-west, there are other roads that already provide this. Meanwhile there are fewer ways in which we keep in mind the need for flood protection, wetland health, and pollutant effects on the Lake Champlain watershed.
As we’ve seen most recently the more we pave the more difficult it is to absorb the impact of floods and storms when they hit. The need for stormwater planning is starting to affect all our communities, and not just in the neighboring towns of Moretown or North Hero. By not paving this road, you achieve more in protecting climate and the natural movement of water and wildlife, than by paving to save a few minutes of commuter time through this unique and historic part of your town. It is okay to have a few slower roads.
Diane Gayer, Burlington