As the mercury has risen in recent weeks, so too have the tempers of residents living along Bolton Valley Road near the Bolton Potholes. The usual crush of summertime visitors to the popular swimming hole has brought with it an unusual amount of public annoyances and safety concerns, including broken bottles, uncollected trash, illegal parking, fireworks and public urination and defecation. Several residents living near the falls have even reported been sworn at and verbally harassed by swimming hole visitors.
In response, the Bolton Town Selectboard is putting its foot down. According to newly appointed town selectman David Parot, the board has scheduled a special meeting for Monday to discuss ways of closing access to the swimming hole, which is located on private property.
"All of us on the selectboard, our phones have been ringing off the hook through this heat wave," says Parot. "It's been a disaster."
According to Parot, traffic along Bolton Valley Road is now down to one lane of traffic every day due to all the cars parked on the town's right of way. Last week, Parot says, he nearly T-boned another vehicle as it was turning around on a blind curve. However, he says state police can't be expected to spend all their time trying to deal with this problem.
The selectboard is looking for creative solutions. One proposal to be discussed on Monday is to rent concrete "Jersey barriers" that would prevent drivers from parking along the town's right of way, and urging swimming hole visitors to park in the Smilie Memorial School a stone's throw from the falls. However, Parot points out that at an estimated cost of $15,000 to rent those barriers, that solution may be impractical.
Likewise, the prospect of towing cars, though not off the table, is less than desirable, as it's costly and less effective at keeping visitors away.
There are no plans to consider designating the falls as a town park due to safety and liability concerns.
In the meantime, the board is appealing to the public to be more considerate to Bolton property owners and if they pack it in, pack it out — be it dirty diapers, cigarette butts, beer bottles or other debris.
"We don't want to play the heavy, but at some point you have to lay down the law," Parot adds. "We have an obligation to our taxpayers to not see their quality of life diminished."