June 19, 2019 by Carol Britton Meyer
As part of the conditions set in early 2017 when the Trustees of Reservations were granted permission to make changes to the World's End parking and circulation pattern and to add a not-yet-completed Visitors Center, a requirement to document the number of visitors and associated traffic counts and information about potential queuing at the entrance was set.
A tiered approach to programming was also part of the approval to prevent overlapping of events in response to some residents' continuing concerns about on-street parking in the surrounding neighborhoods, especially during high attendance events.
A number of World's End-area residents attended last night's joint Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning Board hearing to review the current situation following the above changes.
The earlier decision of the two boards to allow these changes to take place required the applicant (Trustees) to compile visitor- and associated traffic-count statistics for every day and hour during a peak month when World's End was open.
Overall info was provided for the Month of November, which TOR Project Manager Robert Murray said is one of the park's busiest because of the Veterans' Day holiday and the long Thanksgiving weekend.
These stats indicated an average of 150 vehicles per weekday in and out during November 2018 and 484 vehicles per weekend day in and out during that same month. The figures for November last year were down by about 1,400 visitors from the number of visitors during the same month in 2017. Why that happened was not determined.
However, according to Traffic Engineer Jeffrey Dirk, the data collection provided at a recent follow-up meeting was inadequate. For that reason, Murray said a similar report would be prepared for this August, providing the full information requested. August, he said, is also a high-attendance month for World's End.
At the same time, Dirk also noted that the widening of the entrance helped prevent back-ups onto Martin's Lane.
Still, concerns remain. Surry Road Resident Judith MacKinnon is bothered by the "tremendous amount of dust from the parking area when the ground is dry.
We have to close our windows," she said. "One of the conditions says the ground needs to be watered before there's a problem."
Guilford Road Resident Cindy Hydell said during some evenings this month the chain has been across the entrance when it was supposed to be left open so cars could park within the site to discourage on-street parking. Cars parked across the entrance and along Surry Road on those occasions, she explained.
Porter's Cove Road Resident Liza O'Reilly said while the changes resolved some of the issues neighbors have concerning the park, there are still concerns to be addressed. "Cars still occasionally park on my street, but one of the biggest issues is the level of programming/events," she said.
O'Reilly noted that the number of campouts at World's End has far exceeded the limit of two she said was included in the conditions. She also recalled a time last March during a nighttime photography class offered there when there were 10 or so cars parked in the road and on her neighbor's grass.
"This Spring the TOR advertised a 13-session Sunset Yoga program," O'Reilly said, which she believes exceeded the number of allowed events. She told ZBA and Planning Board members at the hearing that she has come up with a plan to help remedy the traffic/parking situation, which she will share at another hearing.
Neighborhood Resident Maggie Merrill provided slides showing cars parked in the road and not inside World's End. "There's some kooky, creative parking going on," she said. Something that also made her unhappy was a recent kids' party inside the park one night. "It was a disorderly event -- loud, with lots of cars coming out at 10 p.m. She further stated, “Neighbors don't want more nighttime events -- they're disruptive," she said.
Merrill would also like more information on the planned new Visitors Center, with an opportunity for residents to ask questions and share concerns.
The hearing was continued until October 6 at which time Murray will present the new data and be asked to address the issues shared by residents at last night's meeting.