Neighbors Divided: Our Use of Green Space

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Wednesday November 21, 2012

About a year ago, according to Joanne Heidkamp, she and other residents of the Hadley and Meadow Road neighborhood began noticing individuals parking a bus and camping on the City’s right-of-way, which is the grassy area extending past the paved portion of Hadley Road, adjacent to 120 Hadley Road. This green space is in front of a widely used walking path. Heidkamp and 20 of her neighbors signed and presented a petition to the Council outlining their concerns: mainly the loss of that space. They also presented photos to illustrate their point

There appears to be nothing illegal about having a registered vehicle or bus (the Vermont Joy Parade bus) parked on this area. According to Director of Public Works, Justin Rabidoux, unless it interferes with routine maintenance or public safety, it’s ok. There is no ordinance against parking on City owned grass. SB police Chief Trevor Whipple added that the only parking ordinance that exists currently is the winter parking ban on City streets from midnight-8 a.m., Dec 1-April 1.

Individuals from both sides of this debate were present, including the owner at 120 Hadley Road; Adam Linnebur. He recalled that when he moved in two years ago he was informed that the bike path was used by local residents and he didn’t have a problem with that since he welcomed the opportunity to get to know his neighbors. While he appreciated the efforts of the petition, he felt there were more concerns that the neighbors needed to talk about resolving.

Orchard Drive resident, Laurel Williams said “The location of the bus is blocking access to the path. We have a written agreement with Rice to use it. I would not like to see cars on it, since it’s a public space, it should be used for the public good.”
Winooski resident and friend of the owners of the bus said, “We care about community as much as you do. We’re not here to put fear in your hearts. We just want a roof over our heads and to be creative like everyone else.”

Heidkamp said that safety and quality of life now involves weaving though vehicles. Instead of feeling welcome (to use the path), it feels like walking through a parking lot. Another resident of the neighborhood mentioned that he walks through the path twice a day and has never felt unsafe, he just wants to make sure the path is clear. Most would simply like to see the area become a more accessible public space again by removing the vehicles. The head of the Vermont Joy Parade mentioned in his comments that, coincidentally, the bus will be moving very soon.

Chair Rosanne Greco, after hearing all points of view said, “Even though this might be legally correct, the neighbors don’t think it’s neighborly. We might want to think about passing an ordinance about preserving City green space, but ordinances don’t make good neighbors, you still have to live near each other.” She sensed very little animosity among the neighbors and most mentioned a desire to work together.  Greco and Helen Riehle encouraged them to consider mediation. Riehle added, “Mediation doesn’t work unless both parties are interested in coming to a resolution.”

Lisa Bedinger, from the Community Justice Center, was present and Sandy Miller requested that the neighbors let him know if mediation is a path they would like to take so he can set it up with Bedinger. Many raised their hands expressing interest, so hopefully, a compromise can be agreed upon that unifies this neighborhood once again.

SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent