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.