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Special Meeting Minutes with Salisbury Selectboard

Town of Leicester

Minutes of Special Meeting of Leicester & Salisbury Select Boards  


Monday, June 14, 2012




** See subsequent minutes for any changes


Leicester Members Present:  Ron Fiske, Tom Barker, Diane Benware


Salisbury Members Present:  John Rouse, Steve Parks, Jack Beasley, Ben Fuller


Others Present: 


Sandra Trombley, Secretary of Leicester Selectboard, Mindy Goodrich, Secretary of Salisbury Selectboard, Julie Delphia, Gabriel Cameron, Lee Kahrs, John Izzo, Bob Volk, Ernie Miner, Gary Genova, VSP New Haven, Tony Bates, Don Keeler, Sheriff, Steve Hare, Jack Sherry, Jerry Flint, Stephen McNamara, VSP New Haven, Merle Schloff, Cecile Todd, Ann Dittami, Kate Briggs, Deb Miner


Call to OrderMeeting called to order at 7:00 p.m. by Moderator, Richard Reed, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. 


Agenda:  To discuss safety concerns with Steve Hare of Vermont Sun around a series of Triathlons scheduled around Lake Dunmore in the towns of Leicester and Salisbury.


Moderator asked the Selectboard members of each town to introduce themselves.


Moderator asked Steve Hare from Vermont Sun and Lt. Gary Genova of the Vermont State Police to introduce themselves.


Moderator explained protocol of the meeting.  Moderator will start with Mr. Hare to present, then the Select Boards, then public comment.


Steve Hare was granted the floor. 


Steve explained that he was asked to come down and address concerns that the Select Boards have about safety issues in regards to the Triathlons.    He stated he was all in favor of safety. 

His concern is to have all human beings safe whether they are walking, running, driving a car, motorcycle or bicycle.  If you are walking, running or riding a bike, you are less visible than in a vehicle. 


He stated they have been running these Triathlon events for 27 years.  Roughly over 110 – 112 events and have never had an accident.  He stated he would think over that period of time, they should have had an accident; and have never had one.  He chalks some of it to good luck, but also chalks it up to good preparation.  He stated they have worked closely with the State Police and they are required to get permits for the Triathlon.  In prior years, the State Police would come down and look at the course and decide what they would like to see.  In time, they developed a permit form and they elaborated on that form over the years.  They did a traffic count around the lake.  Traffic count is much less in the morning than in the afternoon.  The most problematic of their events is people riding bikes.  In all of their events; except their last event, the bikes are off the road by about 9:00 a.m.  About 90%.  Less than 20 people are out on the course still riding their bikes.  The August 26th event, the bikes will be on the road as late as noon.  That event is a small field and so spread out that you might not know an event is going on.


Steve mentioned that their success is also because of the Sheriff’s Department.  They do a marvelous job helping to monitor the course.  They hire three sheriffs for each event and they are placed at Leicester Four Corners, the back side of Fernville Road where it merges into Fern Lake Road, and Branbury State Park.  They always give us feedback positive or negative about the race.  Steve has been extremely pleased how things have gone. 


Moderator invited Salisbury Selectboard to the floor.


Jack Beasley, Salisbury, shared concerns that he has had for many years of the course going from Kampersville around to the Park because the road is narrow and it winds.  It’s not only the operation of the bicycles, because they know where they are going, but motorists unaware of the event, can be confused and over react.  It’s so narrow; most people will try to go into the other lane.  He hopes to keep the “no accident” record.  This area troubles him a great deal.  A lot of campers are in that area and are not familiar with the road and are going home on Sundays.


Steve Parks, Salisbury: asked how many participate in the race, where do they come from, financial impact to the economy and “pep talk” Hare gives about competition.


Steve Hare stated his best guess would be about 200 participants and they should be off the road by 9:00 a.m.  He stated that Sunday morning before 9:00 a.m. there is very little traffic and the safest time.  He stated that this is the safest course he’s ever seen.


There are 40% Vermonters and 50% from New England and New York and 10% from all over.

These people have disposable income.  Unfortunately, they will be spending money in surrounding towns because Leicester and Salisbury do not have restaurants and hotels.


Steve gives a “pep talk” to his riders about being a guest, human beings and their behavior.  He explains that this area is hallowed ground for him and they better respect this area.  Traffic count is low.  He points out the beauty of the course and the importance of respecting the residents.  He talks to them that if a car cuts them off, to ignore it.


Tom Barker, Leicester: asked about Hare’s reluctance to have their competitors put numbers on their back and why it is such a big thing.  He observes that all competitors on the news have numbers on their back.  Tom asked about event insurance and if he could furnish the Town with a copy of event insurance coverage.


Hare stated the first thing is; these people in the race are not criminals.  They are already held to a much higher standard than anyone taking a bike out and just riding around the road.  They wear two numbers.  One on the bike, and one on their front.  They are already policed by our three sheriffs’ and by their own draft marshals.  It is the safest time around the lake during the summer because there is so much vigilance.  Another number is discriminatory and is unnecessary.  Hare said it makes it look like we are assuming they are a criminal and they will break the law.  He continued to state that they are already held to a much, much, higher standard. 


Hare stated that they had event insurance and thought we already had a copy and explained the permit process to Leicester, Salisbury and the Fern Lake Assn and how it comes from the Safety Commissioner.


Diane Benware, Leicester: stated there is no record in the Town Office of their event insurance.  The permit application that is sent, does not contain anything about insurance.  Diane had written a letter in 2006 on behalf of Salisbury and Leicester when Major Baker was in charge and some of the same concerns have continued to be brought up about bikers and runners both sharing the same lane of the road.  Bikers and runners are well over one lane of the road and pictures were provided to Major Baker.  Cars were having to stop and bicyclist from behind banged on the back of the car and swore at the driver because she stopped because she was afraid of hitting the cyclist in front of her.  It is a concern if cyclist and runners are sharing the same lane.  It seems that they also extend beyond one lane of the road.


Hare stated he wouldn’t be surprised at all if a cyclist responded that way.  He has spoken to them about such things.  Hare reported they have identified some issues and have tweaked their program.  Some of the longer races, the cyclist can get strung out.


Diane explained the frustrations people are experiencing.  They have been sworn at, had water bottles thrown at them.  Yes, there hasn’t been an accident in 27 years, but the tolerance level of the people living right on the course is probably much less than it used to be.  Diane’s stated her fear.  Some event, that any other time wouldn’t be a big deal any other time, will erupt into something much larger.  Either from residents or from someone on vacation.  That’s the concern she has.  27 years is a long time.  On one hand it’s a good thing, on the other hand, it is wearing on people. 


Hare stated he takes another view of it.  Some people in the community look forward to it.  The positive nature of physical fitness, of wellness, of reveling in this gorgeous arena.  There are people that are not going to like it.  He has spent a tremendous amount of time in this area.  It is healthy, recreational and procerds from the events help to support youth sports programs, youth wellness and fitness programs.  They contribute $1,000 of services for swimming lessons for Leicester and Salisbury students at their facility.  Any event will have some nay sayers.  There are minimal safety issues.  Hare will continue to try to talk to, and educate people.



Public Safety


Lt. Genova: represents the Department of Public Safety who issue out the permits.  As long as the requirements of permit are met, they are comfortable with that.  When events happen in this area of that State, he is the first one to look at the application and then it is sent to Waterbury for final authorization and then comes back.  If there are adjustments that need to happen with the permit, he is asked to take a look at those.  He is not talking about the on the grounds security that the Sheriff Dept handles.  His role is to make sure the requirements of the permit are made.  He doesn’t do anything else.  He doesn’t help with on scene security or traffic control. 


Lt. Genova had some questions for next year and make sure he’s up to speed of concerns for both towns.  Genova clarified numbers at around 200 participants. 


Question to Town of Leicester.  The concern about numbers and why not numbers on the back of cyclists.  I’m curious if you see that as a public safety issue, do you see it as a visibility issue, what would be your concerns about that?


Tom explained there was trouble with riders and someone said, get their number and we will deal with it.  If they are riding away from you with no number on their back, it is a pretty good chance that you won’t know who it is. 


Tom explained that if there is a number on the back of the cyclist, you know who it is.


Genova asked if it was more of an ID issue.


 How can you police a person for doing something if you do not have an ID or identification?


Genova mentioned that Leicester had some concerns of bikers and runners taking up one lane of travel.  Have you adequately addressed that or is it an ongoing concern?


Diane stated that she thinks it is better than it was.  No one has mentioned it recently.  Diane was under the impression that most races were still sharing the same lane.  If Steve says it’s been changed, that may very well may be. 


Genova has a concern about the interaction with the local population and the bikers.  Is this something that the Sheriff should be more aware of this year?  Or is it a red flag courtesy, heads up for everyone about the stress between the two.  To what extent should we discuss this a little more in detail?


Diane stated that a few people that are here, live on the course, so I’m sure they will be able to talk about that.  Diane stated that as a Board Member, she hears personally from no less than 4 – 6 people each year, sometimes it the same person again and again, people trying to get in and out of their driveways, etc.  That’s been pretty consistent and she doesn’t think it’s getting any worse, but it isn’t getting better.  She thinks it is important that the Sheriff’s Department, State Police and Steve know that people that have been living on the course for 10, 12, 25 years, they probably are a little tired of this. 


Moderator opened floor to the public.


Tony Bates, Leicester:  Diane has a good point about the occasional interactions with motorists and cyclists.  He is a runner and runs the roads a lot.  He stated that roads are made for cars.  They are not made for runners or cyclists or horses.  They both live by a stable and horses are going by his house all the time.  Potential for disaster is huge.  A horse is even more unpredictable than a tired triatholete.  I would guess there are more horse accidents in the last 27 years than there have been in the Triathlon.  We’re not here to talk about horses, but things happen.  Second, the safest time to be running is during a race.  You have law enforcement officers patrolling busy intersections, volunteers with flags, orange vests, and cones.  Drivers are more aware than ever that something is going on.   Whereas, if you are jogging along at dark sometime, they don’t expect to see a runner.  During a race, drivers are on high alert.  They are more aware.  I find it hard to believe they wouldn’t think there was a race going on.  Even if they were just visiting for the weekend.


Ernie Miner, Leicester:  Ernie explained he lives across from Cove Point on Rte. 53.  Ernie thought the Town of Leicester, a number of years ago, voted out this race.  Did the Town of Leicester vote on this or did the State of Vermont just tell Leicester that they are going to have a race?


Diane Benware explained that some years the application packet didn’t come to the Board until after the fifteen day period.  The permitting process might need to be revisited.  We were told by Town Counsel that the State of Vermont trumped the Town of Leicester.  Town could not prevent it.


Ben Fuller, Salisbury Board explained that he understood that because the event takes place, in part, in a state governed body of water that the Public Safety Board has jurisdiction over the entire event and therefore it is the permitting official.  He asked if that was accurate.


Genova stated that it was an accurate view point.  Genova stated that the fifteen days always concerns him.  In order for the State to sign off for the permit, there really has to be a level of comfort and that’s not just from State Police perspective and Sheriff’s Dept perspective; but that should be something that the Town’s are comfortable with too.  In the end, the State will make a determination whether or not the permit should be issued.  Everyone should have some stake and some say in how the process goes forward.  He is aware of the past couple years concerns, but he doesn’t have a 27 year history.  In the end, the Department of Public Safety would make the final determination.  It should incorporate everyone.  This is important for me to hear.


Ernie Miner:  We voted it out and Steve Hare must have some political pull because the next thing we knew we didn’t have any say in it and we pay the taxes here and Steve Hare has more clout in Leicester than we do.


Steve Hare stated that there was a public vote in Salisbury and it had supported the races.  There was never a vote in Leicester from the public.  The majority of the public are positive thinking people, promote wellness, promote health, and promote fitness.  They like to see fitness and energy and don’t view a human being, riding a 20 lb. bicycle as something that’s dangerous.


Jack Beasley spoke to the subject of a public vote in Salisbury.


Ann Dittami, Salisbury:  She has watched 23 years of this race.  It’s better, but it is still a big problem.  She can’t get out of her driveway when the race is on.  There’s still trash on the road.  She shared the problem to the resistance to numbers on the backs of cyclists.  Many racers are doing not very nice things and she can’t identify them.


Cecile Todd, Leicester:  Cecile has lived on Lake Dunmore Road since 1970.  She had an incident where a cyclist kicked the side of her car.  Cecile called Steve Hare.  She was afraid that Cecile was going to run over her.


Cecile wanted to know why is Steve so adamant about having all the races on Lake Dunmore Road?  What about DAR State Park in Addison.  Why will Steve not compromise?  He absolutely refuses.


Steve Hare stated that at one point they had 7 events in this area and they have reduced them to 4 events.  This area is ideal for events and primarily is, because it’s such a safe area.  He hears what Cecile’s saying and explained why a frightened cyclist might behave the way they did.  He addressed it.


Cecile stated that it was not the event in general, but the total disregard for the local people in the area.  It has happened to others; as well.


Cecile asked if you don’t think that the DAR area is not as safe as Lake Dunmore. 


Ben Fuller, Salisbury Board:  When Steve came before the Salisbury Board; they spoke of the general animosity between motorist and bicyclist.  Competition of resources and the access to the road.  By in large, most people are supportive of the event.  He did hear one story that was disturbing; of an individual out for a run that encountered a group of volunteers who told that person to get out of the road because a Triathlon was coming through.  So that, and some of the other comments that he has heard, suggest to him that there may be a perception that some of the participants think they have exclusive access to the road over the course of the event.  We all know they don’t.  It might be helpful to reinforce that point in Steve’s pep talk.  We expect them to act as respectful guests when you are here, you don’t have exclusive access to the road and you need to work well with motorists and pedestrians.  Ben thinks that would go a long way toward resolving some of these issues; if you can get that understanding.


Steve Hare agreed that it was a good point.  Steve stated that in Vermont, State law says two cyclists can ride side by side in a safe situation.  If it’s a cluttered road, they are asked to ride single file.  Steve stated that they hold the races to a much higher standard than that.  They cannot ride side by side.  They cannot ride following each other.  He explained their race rules and they are asked to stay as far to the right as is safe.  This lake is an attraction.  There all lots of cyclists and runners who use the area, that are not from Vermont Sun.


Jerry Flint, Leicester:  His concern is the traffic and safety in general.  You should at least consider the option of other areas that would be safer such as DAR.  Lake Dunmore Road with the curves and traffic presents an unsafe condition.  Jerry feels it’s just a matter of time before an accident happens.  27 years is a good record, but it’s a matter of time.  Not everybody recognizes the near misses.  He does not agree with both lanes being taken up.  He thinks riders would be more respectful if they could be identified; rather than not identified.


Steve Hare answered that the traffic count was one vehicle every two minutes.  That is why they choose Sunday morning.  Traffic is much higher later.  They chose this spot because it’s gorgeous.  It’s a public road to use respectfully and safely.  Legally and morally they should not be asked to wear another number.


Jack Beasley, Salisbury Board:  By way of follow up to the permitting process; this year the first notice they received was when they received the signed permits.  It has happened before.  There is a breakdown somewhere. 


The other issue is in respect to this higher standard that you keep insisting that you maintain, and then you compare these people to people that are not held to any standard at all; and say that you are no worse than them.  What you are saying is your higher standard is useless.  One of the reasons it’s useless is; most of the people cannot identify these people to report them to you because there is no number on their back.  The bike riders are hunched over and the number is facing downward.  Their legs are obscuring the number tag on the bike.  The only way to identify them, unless they stand up straight and turn around, is if they have a number of their back.  They might be a little concerned about the higher standard you talk about if they thought someone might point out that they didn’t conform to the standard.


Steve Hare stated that these people have two numbers on them; they are monitored by three sheriff’s officers, and three race personnel.  At no time, are they ever more respectful and courteous than that time.  It is about a 13 miles loop.


Jack commented that you have 3 sheriff officers and 3 race officials over a 13 mile route.  That is less than 1%.  You can’t expect more from the Sheriff’s Dept. Your 3 employees are more interested in your business than these races because they are employed by you.


Lt. Genova asked Sheriff, Don Keeler to address public safety and changing lanes.  Mr. Keeler stated that there have been no complaints to Captain Clark in three years.  They stand in uniform with a car with flashing blue lights.  No one stopped to complain in three years.  He stated he lives on Lake Dunmore in summer.  He sees many bikes; other than Steve’s group, using the area.  Salisbury reduced the speed limit to 25 mph and makes it safe for the riders.


Deb Miner, Leicester:  In the past we have had a bike going one way and one going the other way.  You want to be careful, you want to be safe, you want to wait, but when you have runners and bikers going both ways at the same time, you still have to avoid them on both sides of the road.  You can’t just sit and wait because you could be sitting there all day.  Why can’t you have it so they are going in one direction?  Deb thought that had been determined a few years ago.  Is that going to happen this year?


Steve stated that bicycles only go in one direction.  They only ride clockwise.  If you see a bike going counter clockwise, they are not involved with their event.  The runners run out of the Park to the south down the road and turn around and return.  They never encounter the bicycles; the bicycles have already gone into the Park.  There are other bikers and runners around the lake.


So, Deb explained again, that the runners leave and go down and turn around and come back on the same road, so they are actually running at the same time on opposite sides of the road. 


Steve agreed.


Deb stated that’s what she’s saying.  When you are in a car, you are trying to avoid one while you are running into the other.  You’ve got hundreds of people out there at the same time.  If there were only a few here or there, we could deal with that.  There are large numbers of people out there.  It’s not so easy to avoid them.  Deb doesn’t think it’s safe.


Steve stated there are about 200 spread over three miles in about an hour.


Kate Briggs, Leicester:  Kate stated that it’s a lot longer than an hour.


John Izzo, Salisbury:  John stated he lives behind the crème stand.  He has been there about ten years.  He has participated in these races for the last five years.  In general, the cars are very respectful of people.  Through the summer he rides the loop numerous times.  John stated the most safe time to ride the loop is during the races, than any other time.  Cars are paying attention to you and you are paying attention to the road. He stated that it was a safe situation.


John agreed with Deb the runners back and forth is a very difficult situation for cars.  You have to be a little bit more careful for a mile and a half.


Gabriel Cameron, Salisbury:  Asked if this meeting was about safety.  He asked where the safety comes from with a number on the back of your shirt.  It’s not a safety issue.  He has lived in Salisbury all his life and never had a problem.  He agreed it’s an inconvenience, but he respects it.  On a Sunday morning, he stated that people should be able to take an extra 20 minutes to ride around the lake.  Our society is so rushed.  These are petty complaints.  The bikes have the same rights on the road as we do.  Four days out of the year; maybe three to five hours.  Not many of these things are safety issue.  The safety issue comes in when you lose your patience.  You can’t control the bad apples, it will happen.  I think the safety issues have been addressed.


Merle Schloff, Salisbury:  Strongly agreed the safest time to ride is during a race.  Vehicles are looking for riders and runners.  Some are speaking safety issues and some etiquette issues.  He feels that between Steve and the police, they are really doing an educated job of identifying the problems and have done a very good job.  There are always things that can get outside of your control.  Is there eventually going to be a problem; he thinks statistically, probably.  The etiquette issues in the race are real.  You have all these people who are racing and working against the clock.  They have pushed themselves, they are tired, and they are so focused that other things get outside of the tunnel.  It’s not because you are a bad person, but you are really focused.  He would ask Steve:


1.  What do you do to alert the people that there is an etiquette concern among the Town’s people?  Giving what you are doing now, is there more you could do and what would that be?

2.  Would suggest you compromise with the people and consider numbers on the racers.

3.  These people are citizens of the Town.  They are being inconvenienced. 

4.  How do you charge your runners about the etiquette and do you think there is more you can do?


Steve explained that he personally gives a 5 minute pre-race speech.  He has heard from all the residents and he doesn’t want to be looked upon as intruding.  He gives the guest and respect your area speech.  98-99% do respect, but 1% might not.  Every Saturday before the race, they put out signs.  It is put in the newspaper.


Mr. Schloff had an idea of, on the race course, putting a message on each pylon to send the message along the course.


Steve liked the idea and could possibly implement it for the next race.


Kate Briggs, Leicester:  Lives on Lake Dunmore Road and has a camp two doors down from Branbury Beach for close to 100 years.  She stated they have experienced this event in a variety of ways.  She feels there are a couple things going on and would like to change the debate a bit.  This is one of the events that we actually have a voice and can talk about cyclists on the roads.  We can’t do anything about the constant stream of cyclists on narrow roads that don’t have shoulders that have a lot of turns.  There is a lot of narcissism in all of this.  She stated that she is a slow driver and she pulls over when she sees cars back up behind her.  She has never seen a cyclist do that on any road.  They have a right to the road and that is fine, but you can’t pass them on Rt.53 and you can’t pass them on Fern Lake Road.  There are places you can’t pass.  They are angry if you are slow behind and they are angry if you pass them.  All of us here have had experience with cyclists.  They are really not so much about this event, as our overall experience.  This is the one thing that we could maybe get rid of from our road.  That’s why our energy is focused on can’t he go somewhere else.  We’re really tired of it.  We are supposedly a scenic place and a lot of people want to drive by.  We also come from a culture frankly, in Leicester, where we are more about work than working out.  There is a cultural difference here.  Spend all that energy.  Could they stop and get off the bike and pick up some of the crap that somebody else dropped on the road.  It’s a different culture with a different way of looking at it.  She’s had people punch her car because she got caught in the traffic and she thinks it’s a public safety issue.  Fern Lake and Fernville Road is a bad corner.  Cars and bikes get caught up and that needs special attention.  You can be more courteous and that would be great, but the little roads in our towns are very much burdened by cyclists.  She stated that it’s green and its wonderful, but it’s not about transportation for local people.  It’s about other people’s recreation at our expense.  That’s how we see it.  It’s great that there are four events instead of seven.  They used to be on Saturday and you couldn’t get to the dump.  We’re glad they are on Sunday mornings, but there is more going on here than just these events.  Our roads are not suitable for bike races.  We don’t want to see people hurt. 


Ernie Miner, Leicester:  The Town of Leicester spends about $80,000 a year to maintain these roads that these cyclists love to ride on.  Steve pays to use Branbury Park and he thanked Steve for the $1,000 donation to use his facility for the kids.  The taxpayers have a whole lot more invested in this Town than Steve does.  Let’s get back to helping the Towns maintain the roads for these super bikes that want to go 40 mph.  The donation ought to be more.


Tony Bates, Leicester:  Once again it’s four days a year, 1 1/2 – 5 hours a day. 


The Moderator thanked everyone for coming. 


Meeting adjourned at 8:45 P.M.



Respectfully submitted,


Sandra L. Trombley, Secretary