JACKSON — New parking restrictions are in place at Jackson Falls after the federally designated scenic river was inundated by visitors last summer.
Signs have been posted along Carter Notch Road setting a two-hour parking limit for the 16 spaces alongside the falls, with three spaces set aside for residents. Two other spaces are designated for handicapped parking and 11 other spaces are set aside for visitors. The rest of the roadway has been posted "No Parking."
Police will enforce the two-hour limit by taking photos of vehicles at the spots, according to Jackson Selectmen's chair Barbara Campbell, Selectman Frank DiFruscio and Police Chief Chris Perley.
On Monday, Perley told the Sun that police have already begun enforcing the new rules, with fines increased per order of selectmen to $50 from the previous $15-$35.
“I issued a citation today to someone from out of state who had parked in one of the three residents-only parking spaces,” said Perley.
Campbell and DiFruscio with fellow Selectman John Allen will discuss the resident parking stickers — soon to be available at the town clerk's office — at their regular meeting today at town offices at 3:30 p.m. Selectmen voted to offer the stickers to residents who have a vehicle registered in Jackson or can show government-issued ID with a Jackson address at their May 25 meeting.
Campbell said the stickers have been ordered and are expected to arrive at the town clerk’s office “any day.”
After resident Barbara Theriault complained to selectmen about the crowds, selectmen formed a "Save Jackson Falls" committee to look into ways to lessen the impact there. Besides Theriault, the chair, other committee members included Campbell, Jackson Conservation Commission chair Jeff Sires and residents Joyce Allan, Emily Benson, Beth Funicella, Tim Shellmer, Ruthann Brown, Pam Smilie, Tom Seidel and Ken Kimball.
She said the committee sent a survey to all Jackson voters last winter, asking for their input.
“We met throughout the winter and reported our findings to selectmen,” said Theriault, a resident since 1972.
She said the signs were erected two days after a meeting by committee officials with state Department of Transportation officials prior to Memorial Day.
“It isn’t fair for people to park there all day,” said Theriault.
Theriault said the conservation commission also will put up signs explaining the natural history of the falls, which were federally designated as a wild and scenic river by Congress in 1989 after efforts by townspeople and then U.S. Rep. Bill Zeliff of Jackson to keep the falls preserved.
Theriault said people using the falls last summer parked alongside Carter Notch Road and on Valley Cross Road near the Jackson Tennis Club.
“What really got to me the most is that people were parking alongside Carter Notch Road, and people living there were frightened because of the congestion and the inability for emergency vehicles to get by should there been a fire,” said Theriault.
“Jackson Falls has been a popular place in summer for a very long time,” said DiFruscio, just elected to another term as selectman and having served previously from 1988-03. He testified in Washington during the hearings in the late 1980s on the Wildcat River being designated a wild and scenic river.
“I remember when I went to Washington to testify people said, ‘Oh boy, we’re going to have more people than we know what to do with once we get that wild and scenic designation. It’s just everywhere now is busy — there are just that many more people in the country.”
DiFruscio said people can still drop off members of their group at the falls and then go and park elsewhere in town.
For more information, call Jackson Town Clerk Karen Burton at (603) 383-4223 or go to jackson-nh.org.