The City of Beacon's Planning Board voted this week to approve plans put forth by Scenic Hudson to add parking spaces at Mt. Beacon's trailhead, to address the growing problem of hikers' cars overflowing into residential areas. During the November 14, 2017, monthly Planning Board Meeting, Meg Rasmussen, Senior Park Planner for Scenic Hudson, presented the plans, which would increase the number of spots from 44 to 77. The plans incorporated requested changes to stay away from existing wetlands. Scenic Hudson maintains the public trails and parking lot at no cost to the City of Beacon.
Some main points to the enlargement project include:
- Increasing opportunities for alternate transportation, which would include new bike racks and drop-off and pick-up points for public transit. According to David Martin, a local resident who hikes the trail often, bikes are frequently seen locked to trees.
- Landscape design to guide people where to park using timber guardrails, "whiskers" and signs, as well as borders of native plants along the roadway. Said Meg on the effectiveness of such design at the meeting: "We are delineating the spaces with 'whiskers,' which come out of the gravel. They use them at the Mohonk Preserve very effectively. People really use them to see where they are supposed to park."
- The decision to keep the parking lot visible from the road: The plan included a recommendation to keep the parking lot in view of the street (vs hidden from view) for safety reasons. "If we were to locate it back off the roadway... you get a lot of nuisance and partying. We have experienced that at our other preserves," explained Meg during the meeting. Planning Board member Gary Barrack expressed disfavor with the more-visible placement, and was a minority vote against the plan, saying it was is the main entry point of the mountain and should be placed behind the wetlands. "To put this parking lot in this historic spot is not the way to go."
Members of the public who were at the meeting generally supported the increase in parking, and voiced concern that it will not solve the problem of parking as the number of hikers using the area continues to soar, especially as Breakneck Ridge prepares to close for restoration. Chairman of the Board James C. Sheers said: "I applaud the applicant for trying to address this situation. I am very concerned about the future. This will absorb a lot of what we have been seeing, but eventually it won't. Hopefully we will take steps to address it when this becomes an issue again."