Brooks Road joins short list, Neighbors unite to protect scenic road

BETHANY - Its been said it takes a village to create change. Last week, it took a complete neighborhood coming together as one unified voice to protect and give Brooks Road the distinction they felt it deserved. And because of that support, Brooks Road became the sixth road to gain the distinction of a scenic road in Bethany following a two-part public hearing and unanimous vote by the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Bordered with mature trees and stone walls Brooks Road offers an unmatched scenic view. Edged with West Rock Ridge and Regional Water Authority land, the vista is never-ending.

The Planning and Zoning Commission room was filled to capacity spilling into the hallway with residents wearing green ‘Scenic Brooks Road' badges, showing their conviction that the short 1.8 mile stretch of roadway canopied with trees should join the short list of pavement to gain the scenic road distinction.

Following opposition from First Selectman Craig Stahl and the resident state troopers at the initial hearing on March 1, co-authors of the scenic road application Linda Francois and Barrie T. Collins addressed the challenges made by the troopers and first selectman.

One of the objections made was that the road was a primary artery for ‘north-south traffic between Downs Road and the Hamden town line with no state highway as a reasonable alternative. Collins pointed out the infrequency of traffic and alternative roadways.

"Brooks is a local secondary road that gets traffic during commuting hours. There is a dramatic drop before and after those hours, with moderate to essentially nothing the remaining 20 hours or so. Even at communing time at the north end, vehicles tend to come in little clusters of 2, 3, 4, with many short intervals when you can hear nothing but the bark of a dog or the wind in the pine plantations along the road" she said.

Collins went on to list the highway alternatives. She pointed out that route 42 was easily accessible from Gaylord Mt. Road which connects to Route 69 and 63. Route 10 lies to the east and Route 15 to the south. All, she said were no more than 10 minutes from Brooks.

"When our roads may be snowy or icy, some of those that would normally use Brooks at commuting time find they can get where they're going using any of these major roads. Brooks may be prettier, but it's not the only way," Collins said.

Countering the comments made by Stahl and the troopers that Brooks was unsafe having a ‘double 90 degree ‘S' curve with low visibility because of the overhanging trees and narrow lanes', Francois pointed out that for the past 16 years she has heard an ambulance once because of a car accident. She further said that the ‘S' curve is actually two turns separated by 500 feet of straight roadway with 30 feet width.

Chairman Newton Borgerson read into record information supplied through the reporting system for 37 months from Feb. 1997 through Feb. 2000. A total of 289 accidents have occurred in Bethany during that period with 8 taking place on Brooks Road.

Conservation Commission Chairman Kenneth Martin spoke on behalf of his commission saying the commission endorsed naming the scenic road.

Both Collins and Francois said they are happy with the outcome. They stressed their appreciation to all who showed support.