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Hartford Calls In Ticket Revenue

Selectboard OKs Keeping State Fines

Hartford — Selectboard members unanimously passed an ordinance last night that will allow the town to collect fines from traffic tickets issued by the Police Department on the four state highways in town.

Following a brief public hearing, Selectboard members said it only makes sense for the town to get compensated for the enforcement efforts of its police officers. Money collected from traffic tickets issued on state roads in Hartford — routes 4, 5 and 14 and Bugbee Street — is currently turned over to the state.

“It would be foolish for me to say give that money to the state,” said Selectman Alex DeFelice.

The new ordinance goes into effect in 60 days, the standard time period allowed for public appeal, Town Manager Hunter Rieseberg said.

With the ordinance change, tickets for traffic violations will be written under a town ordinance instead of a state ordinance. The money collected from the traffic tickets will go into the town’s general fund budget, but it was unknown Tuesday night how much revenue the ordinance change was expected to generate annually.

No residents were present at last night’s public hearing and DeFelice said the Selectboard sometimes doesn’t get feedback about ordinance changes “until the bulldozer shows up in your backyard.”

Public Safety Director Steven Locke, who doubles as the town’s fire chief, said in light of the recent string of fatalities along Route 4, police patrols have been beefed up and the town is already seeing benefits.

“They (officers) are making a lot of contact out there,” Locke said. “They aren’t having any trouble finding speeders.”

Other Roads and Paths

In other news, the Selectboard unanimously motioned to discontinue three Hartford roads — Flanders Lane, Kipling Trace and Royce Way.

Rieseberg said the discontinuing of the roads are not subject to a waiting period and are “effective upon passage.”

The town went through with the discontinuances because all three roads were intended to support future subdivisions, but the owner of the surrounding land is selling the acreage, Rieseberg said.

“The land around them is being taken out of the development process,” Rieseberg said in an earlier interview. “It will never be developed.”

There has been no opposition to the closing of the roads during the discontinuance process.

Last night, Hartford Community Development Planner Matt Osborn updated the Selectboard on the Bike and Pedestrian Program particulars, including projects that have been completed, locations where improvements are planned and the time frame for some of that work. The goal, he said, is to improve connectivity throughout the five villages.

As part of the discussion, Osborn spoke of an ongoing sidewalk and bike lane project and said construction on two of the five segments are slated to start “as early as next year.” The total project would position a sidewalk and bike lane along at least one side of a 1 1/2 mile stretch from Connecticut River Road to the Upper Valley Aquatic Center.

The project ultimately would better direct pedestrians and cyclists through a commercial Sykes Mountain Avenue and through the Route 5 corridor and Interstate 91 exchange.

Board members offered comments on the program.

Selectman Sam Romano said the proposed bike lanes on Sykes Mountain Avenue, along with other proposed bike lanes in town, should have stripping done and a bicycle symbol should be printed on the lane to clearly designate the bike path.

“West Lebanon did a wonderful job, they have marked where they want the cyclists going,” Romano said.

As part of the grant recieved for Sykes Mountain Avenue, in particular, Osborn said bike lanes are included “and they would have the symbols.”

Chuck Wooster, the chairman, offered broader comments on overall mobility within Hartford. Wooster called the center of town a “dam” instead of a “hub” that would otherwise attract pedestrians and cyclists.

“If you go in any direction from Hartford you see all kinds of cyclists,” he said, concluding cyclists avoid Hartford as “our main arteries are these state highways 4 and 5.”

“If people saw us as not being the dam, but instead the central hub, I think it would have a nice economic development benefit for the town, instead of us sort of being cut off,” Wooster said.

Wooster proposed taking another look at the collective list of 31 sidewalk and bike lane projects, which was drafted in 2009, and suggested potentially amending the current list or drafting a new one.

Osborn said nearly two dozen repaving, sidewalk construction and reconstruction, design studies and enhanced bicycle improvement projects were conducted or executed since 2009 on behalf of the Bike and Pedestrian Program, and said a half dozen more projects are currently in the works.

“Walkability and bikeability should be one of our major priorities,” said Selectboard Vice Chairman Simon Dennis. “I applaud that we are spending so much time on it. I think it is so important.”

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

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