Easton police install no parking signs near blueberry patch

Aspetuck Land Trust directs members to park at Wells Hill Road lot and hike to orchards

The Easton Police Department is trying a new approach to ease parking problems when blueberry pickers descend upon Trout Brook Valley starting this weekend.

Meanwhile the Aspetuck Land Trust has restricted blueberry picking to members only, as opposed to past years when it was open to the general public and a popular attraction.

Police have installed temporary no parking signs on Norton and Elm drives when the orchards are open to members for picking in July and August to see if it reduces parking woes. Pickers can park at the land trust’s Wells Hill Road parking lot.

Janie and Rick Muir of Elm Drive attended the July 11 Police Commission meeting where they spoke during public comment on behalf of themselves and their neighbors about an influx of cars parking in their neighborhood during blueberry picking season.

“We’ve had ongoing problems for a number of years,” Janie said. “We back up to an off-leash dog park where people come in cars, and next week opens the blueberry orchards to pickers.”

She said the dogs are the main draw that brings the cars.

The police commission added an agenda item under new business concerning the placement of temporary no parking signs in the area of Freeborn and Norton roads during blueberry picking season. The commissioners voted unanimously to approve the chief’s plan to erect the temporary signs.

Police Chief Tim Shaw said he has had monthly meeting with David Brant, executive director of the Aspetuck Land Trust, about resolving the parking problems that Trout Brook Valley neighbors have been complaining about, and progress is being made.

He asked the Muirs and the commission to focus on the blueberry picking season as the Planning and Zoning Commission, the land trust and police continue discussions to resolve long-term disputes concerning unleashed dogs and parking congestion.

“David has made an effort as far as as blueberry picking not being a free for all, with limited hours for picking,” Shaw said. “The land trust has taken P off Elm Drive from its maps.”

Shaw said Ray Martin, P&Z alternate, has been working with him and the land trust on a town dog ordinance and other long-term solutions.

He said a survey conducted over the last two weekends indicated 32 dogs visited Wells Hill Road, where the land trust built a parking lot, versus four dogs logged on Freeborn Road, where a new lot has been planned.

Shaw said he doesn’t have the authority to do what is in the P&Z’s purview. “What I can do is put up temporary parking signs as an experiment,” he said.

If the experiment is successful, it will be replicated. If it causes unforeseen problems, it will be back to the drawing board.

The first member picking days are July 15, 16 and 17. The picking schedule will be limited to Fridays from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2:30, based upon blueberry availability.  

“I visited the blueberry orchard this morning and there are blueberries to pick, though recent storms have knocked some berries off the bushes and the birds have been busy eating them,” Brant said in a letter to members sent July 14. “We still have varieties that are ripening so there is blue in the future. We should have enough berries for our scheduled July 15, 16, and 17th member-only picking but we may need to cancel Sunday the 17th if the berries get picked out.”

He advised members to to visit the land trust website, aspetucklandtrust.org, or Facebook page to check for updates. Land trust volunteers will have a list of members at the gate.

To qualify as a land trust member, a person must have made a donation that was received within the most recent 12-month period, according to the Member Only Blueberries link on the website. 

“We are asking all land trust members to park at our new Wells Hill Road parking area in Easton indicated by ‘P’ on the map above,” Brant said. “Please don’t park at Elm Drive as there are temporary no parking signs up on most of the street. At the Wells Hill entrance you will find trail maps in the map box. Trails are well marked. Follow trails to the ‘orchard.'”

The hike in to the blueberry orchard is 1.4 miles and 35 minutes.The Wells Hill Road parking lot is at the end of Wells Hill Road in Easton and is accessed either from Kellogg Hill Road via Old Redding Road, or directly from Redding Road.

Blueberry orchards map

Here is Brant’s suggested route to the blueberries which he highlighted in yellow above: From the Wells Hill Rd entrance, take the blue/white trail north towards #43 up to the green/blue trail. Follow green/blue until it turns solid blue and continue to yellow/white past #22 to magenta. Follow magenta to marker #24 where you will enter the orchard. Turn right and walk down to the blueberries.

Here is the Google Maps link to the Wells Hill Road parking area: https://goo.gl/maps/5Xrdhv3ekH92

The Aspetuck Land Trust has restricted blueberry picking at Trout Brook Valley to members only, as opposed to past years when it was open to the general public, and limited picking hours. — Nancy Moon photo

The Aspetuck Land Trust has restricted blueberry picking at Trout Brook Valley to members only, as opposed to past years when it was open to the general public, and limited picking hours. — Nancy Moon photo

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