August 21. 2017 8:41PM

Proposed parking ordinance aims to address crowds at Wilton's Garwin Falls

Union Leader Correspondent

Plaistow teens Maddie McGuire, Lindsey Fisher and Aidan Fisher arrive at Garwin Falls in Wilton Monday afternoon ready to swim. (Meghan Pierce/Union Leader Correspondent)

WILTON — A proposed revision of the town parking ordinance may only be the first step in addressing the increasing traffic at Garwin Falls.

The once little known swimming spot and waterfall in town has become increasingly popular in the past year and a half, said Wilton Town Administrator Scott Butcher on Monday.

It has become so popular that there is concern that the vehicles parked along Issac Frye Highway and Putnam Hill Road on a warm day, especially on the weekend, are a public safety hazard.

There are other issues that concern town officials, Butcher said, including people parking on Putnam Hill Road and walking across an old dam to get to the falls, which is dangerous. There has also been an increase in trash left along the roads, the trail and at the falls, he said.

Garwin Falls is on privately owned land that has historically been open to the public. It is a swimming spot people in town and residents of neighboring towns have found out about through word of mouth.

However, over the past several years the spot has appeared on websites and blogs highlighting waterfalls, swimming holes and hiking trails.

Google Garwin Falls and you will find many sites promoting the spot with photos and maps to Wilton.

On Monday afternoon about a dozen cars were parked along Issac Frye Highway and the falls were crowded. A group of teens from Plaistow said it was their first time at the falls.

“A lot of our friends visited this place so we just want to try it,” Lindsey Fisher said.

They said the spot was cool and they would definitely return again.

“The tradition has been that people are allowed to use it, but the volume of people has been increasing dramatically over the last 18 months and people are leaving all sorts of debris behind, including trash and hypodermic needles, so the concern is growing,” Butcher said. “That’s the ability of today’s technology to spread knowledge through social media and other ways.”

There have been numerous complaints from neighbors about too many cars parked on the roads and debris left in the area. The police department has received complaints on the issue as well, but the issue came to a head at a recent Board of Selectmen meeting, Butcher said.

Concerned about public safety, the board decided a revision to the town parking ordinance would be a good first step, he said.

Butcher said officials also plan to reach out to the land owner to work on solutions to the trash and crowd problem at the falls.

“That’s something that needs a longer term plan,” Butcher said.

The revision to the town parking ordinance has been written, Butcher said. “And the selectmen are going to have a hearing to ratify the ordinance,” he said. “It would create a no parking and tow zones in certain sections of Issac Frye Highway and Putnam Hill Road.”

The public hearing will be part of the board’s Sept. 11 meeting, which starts at 6:30 p.m.