It may be necessary to either ban or severely restrict town-authorized parking on Mirror Lake Road at the far end of Berlin Pond. This is because, at times, too many people park there and create a hazard, according to those present during the Aug. 2 Berlin Selectboard meeting.
“The issue we’ve had on Mirror Lake Road is sometimes in winter, people park on both sides. It is blocked,” said Selectboard Chair Justin Lawrence. “You can’t get through with a plow truck. There is a lot of use that goes on down there.”
Lawrence went on to describe how the board needs to make sure plow trucks, fire trucks, and other emergency services can get through. One of the reasons this end of the pond is popular in winter is because ice fishermen prefer it over the other end of the pond, by the boat launch, where “the flow of the water over on the other side doesn’t freeze well,” Lawrence said. And Town Administrator Vincent Conti said the Town of Berlin owns very little of the land at that end, causing people to clump their vehicles together to avoid parking in the right of way owned by the City of Montpelier.
The Berlin Selectboard discussed ways to address this, either by banning parking on that end of the pond, or by limiting parking to one side.
What about that little pull off where everyone parks? Several people asked. Conti explained that the land is privately owned — not under the authority of the Town of Berlin — and, additionally, it is for sale. So a little spot where people are used to parking for many years may soon become off limits as well. Although nothing was brought to a vote, the board further discussed putting in “No Parking” signs and implementing fines. In addition, the town plans to develop new parking spaces on Paine Turnpike, just past the turn to Brookside Road, Conti said.
For those unfamiliar with Berlin Pond, it is a popular place for recreation all year round. The pond attracts people not just for the water, but the road around it is a perfect roughly five-mile loop for walkers, runners, and bikers. And it has only fairly recently been opened up to fishing and boating recreation, which has proven popular.
Fom 1884 until around 2012, people were prevented from entering the water by the authority of the City of Montpelier, which purchased most of the land surrounding the pond to protect it as the city’s predominant source of drinking water. Montpelier actively kept up ordinances forbidding people from entering the water, exercising its own authority and using its own police force. However, the Vermont Supreme Court sided with a pair of kayakers, who successfully argued a body of water as large as Berlin Pond is governed by the state.
So now, Berlin Pond is still one of the city’s drinking water sources, but people are allowed to boat and fish on the pond as long as they park and enter the lake via Berlin-owned property. Berlin owns little slices of land at each end of the pond.
On another note relating to traffic at the pond, Conti reported results from an engineering study done on the roads surrounding the Berlin Pond. Brookfield Road gets an average of 310 cars per day and Mirror Lake Road clocked in at 76 cars per day. Conti noted that reducing the speed limit to 25 miles per hour may be in order.