Two weekends ago, residents around Honey Pot Orchards reported 45 minute waits to reach their homes in Wildlife Woods while sitting in stopped traffic on Sudbury Road. A resident on Pine Point Road was seen directing traffic to park in a vacant town-owned grass strip, for a fee of $10, and doing a lucrative business as out of town apple pickers chose to park and walk, rather than sit and wait. Stow Police officer Mike Sallese said that at one point, the afternoon traffic had backed up from Honey Pot all the way down Sudbury Road, to State Road, with gridlock in both directions.
Honey Pot Orchards posted a public apology on their Facebook page last week, stating that the massive crowds that descended that weekend were unprecedented. With a rainy weekend just concluded, an upcoming sunny Columbus Day weekend could bring even more day trippers than in the past.
This year, the early holiday is coinciding with the Collings Foundation weekend Battle of the Airfield event in the same area as Honey Pot, the Lions Club Flea Market and the First Parish Church Harvest Festival, both on Great Road will also be held.
Instead of waiting until gridlock hits, Stow Police Chief Bill Bosworth and Fire Chief Mike McLaughlin already have a plan in place. On all three weekend days, a police detail will be directing traffic at the Boon/Whitman/Sudbury Road intersection from 11am – 3pm, with an additional duty officer on the daytime schedule to assist as needed anywhere around town, or at other orchard locations.
The town sign board will be utilized to alert residents and day traffic coming into town as to traffic situations and preferred routes of travel. A map of the Honey Pot parking lots, mazes and orchard overall will be provided to both police and fire to make it easier for them to reach any persons in distress.
A fire truck and ambulance with an EMT will be stationed at Honey Pot, ready to answer calls for the orchard and the nearby residential areas. An additional firefighter/EMT will be at the station to handle calls for other parts of town and back up the orchard responses. Two more firefighter/EMTs will be stationed at the Collings property.
The new hedge maze at Honey Pot has been attracting large weekend crowds, many choosing to walk from the orchard and up to the field where the maze is located, crossing Boon Road amongst traffic and wherever they wish. The Stow Highway department just painted a cross walk and have marked the area in hopes that pedestrians walking to the maze will chose to cross Boon Road at only that one spot. They also cut back brush all around the 4-way intersection at Honey Pot to improve visibility for both drivers and pedestrians.
According to Chief Bosworth, the Collings Foundation and Honey Pot have agreed to pay for the additional manpower at their properties. He also said that the dispatcher will have the authority to call in more personnel, or call in the evening shift early, if traffic situations and emergencies require additional manpower.