June 27, 2020With an unprecedented amount of temporary "No Parking" signs being put out to keep cars from clogging certain roads, the board of selectmen is asking the police chief to keep them in the loop on what roads are being signed.
Police Chief Anthony Bean Burpee spoke with the selectmen during the June 10 meeting about the influx of "No Parking" signs being put out in areas where people have been parking to get on trails, to beaches, or other areas. He said after they last discussed this Town Administrator Scott Dunn sent him an email advising him to get board approval if he wanted to put up "No Parking" signs. He said the point was raised by Sgt. Kevin Baron that requiring board approval ties the chief's hands and Bean Burpee said he agreed with that. He was asked to approach the board and get clarification on this.
Bean Burpee said in the six years he's been in Gilford they have put up a record number of "No Parking" signs. With the pandemic and Stay at Home orders more people have been getting out to local recreation areas, such as trailheads, and have been creating parking congestion in different areas. Police have been placing temporary signs were placed in sections of Belknap Mountain Road, Route 11, Scenic Road, Carriage Road, and other places where there had been a large amount of cars parked by trailheads or other recreation areas.
"All of these issues were because residents had called and talked about parking on their roads," Bean Burpee said.
He said vehicles cannot get in the way of the right of way and these signs were also meant to find the safest ways people could park and let emergency vehicles pass by. Bean Burpee said state officials representing Ellacoya came to the town and asked for signs, whereas they typically post the signs during the major summer holidays and events. Recently people were parking all around in front of Ellacoya and up Route 11.
"As you know, people get creative," Bean Burpee said. "If you don't tell them where to park, they're going to park all over the place."
Board Chair Chan Eddy said Bean Burpee doesn't have to come to the selectmen to issue temporary no parking signs, but he said the board should get some kind of heads up on what's going on.
"If we had an issue we could ask you questions rather than finding out after the fact and getting angry phone calls," Eddy said.
Bean Burpee apologized, saying he should have let the board know. He said the signs only go up on the weekend and come down after that. He said the situation has been unprecedented since January. Bean Burpee said he would address the issue with the board, but didn't want to wait two weeks to take it up to a board meeting
Eddy said he saw unprecedented traffic at Glendale the Friday of Memorial Day weekend with so many people wanting to launch their boats.
"This board has always supported you," said Selectman Gus Benavides. "I don't think in any of the years you've been here, if asked for road closures or parking bans, we've ever disagreed with you."
He said the board won't tie Bean Burpee's hands, but communication is vital. He said they want to know what's going on, including how much it is costing and what the situation is in case residents ask them about it.
He said he never wanted to hear that the board was tying his hands. Bean Burpee said Baron didn't mean that disparagingly.
Bean Burpee said anyone who has questions about the no parking signs they should call the police, as the signs say that it is a temporary police order. Benavides agreed, but said the selectmen get called about most everything in town even things related to the school.
He said the signs are being put out by personnel on duty and no overtime was being spent on them.
"As you are one of the best department managers that we have, (we ask) that you communicate to us, chief," Benavides said. "If something's happening at the last second you send us a text message, you send us an email, you let us know 'Hey guys, this just came up, this is the situation.' One hundred percent of the time were on your side and were there for you."