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June 17, 2011

Bolton Potholes Sees Rising Tide of A-Holes

Bolton photo

It's been more than 20 years since Robert Fulghum's book, All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten was on the New York Times best-seller list. But apparently, it's high time that some visitors to the Bolton Potholes buy a copy, read it — or have someone read it to them — and take its lessons to heart. Among them: Be nice. Play fair. Don't take things that aren't yours. Flush. And, most applicably, clean up your own damned mess!

In July 2010, Seven Days reported on discussions by the Bolton Selectboard to restrict access to the popular cooling-off hotspot, which is located just off the mountain road leading to the Bolton Valley ski resort. In recent years, residents living along the road have experienced growing problems with unruly and inconsiderate visitors to the potholes who shoot off fireworks, urinate on their lawns, defecate in their woods and leave behind cigarette butts, broken bottles, used condoms, poop-stuffed diapers and even dirty syringes. 

Several neighbors have also reported being cursed at and threatened just for asking drivers to move their cars off private driveways and lawns. Both the potholes and the land surrounding them are private property. 

Equally disturbing are the ongoing nuisances the town has experienced with visitors parking in the travel lane of the narrow and winding road, leading to numerous close calls and even a few accidents. Town officials say it's only a matter of time before someone gets killed on that road; in past years, swimmers have drowned in the potholes themselves, though, thankfully, none has thus far this year.

In the summer of 2010, the Bolton selectboard exercised restraint, not because it lacked the will or statutory authority to crack down on the stupidity but for a more pragmatic reason: To address the problem once and for all costs a chunk of change. Last year the board discussed bringing in concrete Jersey barriers to prevent people from parking on the access road, but those proved way too expensive.

Since last year, the town of Bolton has put up NO PARKING signs and plans to erect more. (Already this year, several visitors have backed over and pulled up the reflective roadway delineators.)  The small municipality doesn't have its own police force and relies on the Williston barracks of the Vermont State Police for its law enforcement coverage. Needless to say, state troopers are already spread thin around the state and have much more important problems to worry about than writing parking tickets, booting cars or telling some drunk yokel not to wag his wiener at the nice old lady who picks up beer bottles off her lawn each morning.

Selectboard member David Parot, who lives just up the road from the potholes, said he's seen enough dangerous situations this year that he plans to bring up this topic at the next selectboard meeting, scheduled for Monday night, June 20. Parot won't say publicly what measures he plans to introduce. But here's a safe bet: Some swimmers may have a very long walk home.

In the meantime, here are a few simple suggestions for conscientious potholers who'd like to keep this otherwise beautiful swimming hole free and accessible to the public for years to come:

  • If you park your car, open the door and see pavement beneath your feet, you're parked illegally and risk not only a hefty fine and steep towing fee but also injury or death from drivers coming down the road. Imagine meeting a tractor-trailer truck returning from a delivery to Bolton Valley coming down that 15 percent grade with just one lane of traffic. Instead, park at the bottom of the hill or in the nearby public school parking lot and walk in.
  • If you pack it in, pack it out. That includes cans, bottles, cigarette butts and McDoo Doo wrappers.
  • Be nice to the locals. Just because they live in a scenic spot that you enjoy visiting a few times a year doesn't mean they deserve to watch you whizzing on their willow tree.
  • Call out dangerous stupidity when you see it. Don't let a few clueless people ruin the fun for the rest of us.

Put a fence around the place and be done with it. Either that or stop whining. Ken probably sits on his porch and yells at kids to get off his lawn.

Actually, "OY," I let the neighborhood kids play on my lawn all the time. However, I draw the line if they drop trou to take a dump on my blue spruce. (It's struggled in recent years.) I assume from the tone of your comment that you're perfectly OK with people parking on your front lawn and leaving used condoms there. If so, be sure to include your address next time.

What we're seeing is a decline in civility and manners across the board, not just in this location. What happened to common courtesy and the use of "please" and "thank you". Whatever happened to people holding the door for the person behind them? I'm constantly reinforcing these manners and courtesies to my kids. I'm surprised at how many times a door slams in my face, or people don't respond with a thank you when I hold a door for them. Just the other day, I held the door for someone behind me, who had about 10-15 people behind them. Normal etiquette would be that I held the door for them, then they held the door for the person behind them, and so on. I was shocked that I stood there holding the door while all 15 people just walked through, without any thank yous or reciprocating the kindness to the person behind them. It was as if they thought I was their personal door person or something! Geez!!!!!Where's Emily Post when you need her?

Sounds like a good opportunity forma local towing company. Tow away a few illegally parked cars and the problems will die down quickly.

Dirty syringes? Used condoms? Really?? Whats the demographic of the perpetrators here? Are we talking college booze hounds or career fuck-ups? Not that it really matters; the idiotic few ruin always it for the majority of us law abiding and respectful members of society.

Like I said, close it up. Just stop the relentless whining.

Is this debate really happening again? It happened last year and got everyone's panties in a bunch. Ken, stop bringing this issue up. You know the saying "if you wake up a sleeping bear, you'll probably get attacked"? Well there you go. Just stop talking about it. The people living on the access road knew what they were getting themselves into when they bought their houses. Same as the people living in the flightplan of the airport. Yeah, there are airplanes landing all the time. Did you not think there would be? Bolton access road people, did you not think there would be crazy young people wanting to cool off on a hot day? Guess what, it will never end.

Maybe it's time the town considers reaping the benefits of such a beautiful place? Have they considered charging a small fee for parking or for admission?

It's good to see that 7D is fully committed to recycling (stories)

This article and comments are rather absurd. As stated right at the beginning, this land is PRIVATE PROPERTY. What the town thinks, or the neighbors is pretty much irelevant. If the property owners have a problem that is one thing. Why don't we just let them handle the situation If the town wants to protect the road and tow people have at it. As for the bottles, butts and condoms....that sucks, but hardly a communtiy issue. Did Ken ask for the City to do something about kids dumping on his Blue Spruce?

As a resident of Bolton who lives off the Access Road, this whole discussion is about one thing: protecting swimmers and drivers alike who walk along or drive on the road. I knew when I moved to Bolton Valley that the potholes were a popular swimming locale (I swam there before I moved here), and I knew that it could get a little “dicey” when it came to cleanliness or swimming hole enthusiast etiquette, but the way in which people have been parking has gotten out of control. To effectively have one lane open at the base of THAT road is insane! And when I see a large, empty parking lot at the school within a 3 minute walk, it’s enough to make anyone with any amount of commonsense infuriated. I’m certain the town of Bolton will do something to try and ameliorate the problem, but it will come at the expense of residents and/or other priorities within the town. And “Slim,” your airport analogy doesn’t work here because the difference between this situation and the airport, is the pilots flying those planes aren’t breaking the law. The residents of Bolton aren’t complaining about the not-so-great side effects of living next to a ski resort and everything that comes along with that, but rather the totally unsafe behavior at the potholes.

At the end of the day, I don’t know of any of my neighbors who want to see the potholes closed (even though few locals actually swim there), but a little bit of commonsense would go a long way to protecting motorists and pedestrians. This is exactly the conversation to be having, and I thank Ken for continuing to push it at Seven Days.

thanks, ken, for continuing your crusade to keep the potholes a safe, clean, wonderful place to refresh during the hot summer months. not quite sure what the best solution to the several problems is, but there must be some way to address the issues without it costing an arm and a leg. but the absolute worst thing that could happen would be a total loss of use due to the incivility of some. good luck, bolton, in fighting this good fight. it's worth it.

Since when is asking people to pick up after themselves and have respect for the land they are trespassing on, considered "relentless whining"? I guess people like "Oy" and "Slim" have no problems with people disrespecting the property of others... as long as it's not on their land. Also i'm curious if "Oy" read the title of the article before not only clicking on it, but reading it and then taking the time to comment on it. If you don't like the whining, why are you reading the article? Were you confused about the meaning of the title?

The change I have seen in the past ten years at Bolton Potholes is alarming. I mean maybe kids always partied there and I just never noticed, but it sure does seem like it is a growing problem. It is not something that can be safely ignored, because it really is just a matter of time before somebody is hit and killed on the road. Also I would never take my child there because of the drugs, alcohol, and behavior that she would be exposed to, and that saddens me. I would like to see some sort of regulation, however small, as long as it inhibits this disrespectful behavior.

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