copyright the Chronicle March 1, 2017
by Elizabeth Trail
LYNDONVILLE — About 70 people filled the Burke Mountain Room at Lyndon State College on February 23 to express their concerns about plans to put restrooms, parking, and handicapped-accessible trails at the south end of Lake Willoughby. The land is part of Willoughby State Forest.
Site plans were recently released by the Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation (FPR), and the public was invited to Thursday’s informational meeting.
Participants seemed to be divided between the simply curious and people who wanted to see the plans scaled back. A vocal few just wanted the beaches at the south end of the lake left alone.
“This is nature’s cathedral, why don’t we protect this?” asked Beverley Decker.
Louis Bushey from the St. Johnsbury office of FPR seemed a little taken aback by the size of the group and the objections.
“We held a public meeting in November 2015,” he said. “And these plans are the direct result of what people said they wanted.”
“All of the calls that I’ve gotten have been positive,” said Bill Perkins, a member of the Westmore Select Board.
Because the south end of the lake is state land, the select board has no control over the plans, he said.
The plans aren’t intended to change the nature of the south end of the lake, Mr. Bushey said. And they’re certainly not intended to increase the volume of visitors, though that’s likely to happen over time, just because the population is growing.
The point, he said, was simply to address existing problems — cars parked along the road shoulder, paths eroding from foot traffic, human waste in the woods, and runoff from the road going directly into the lake.
“We’ve all seen the plume after a rain,” he said to nods around the room.
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