NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – Long a problem because of excessive speeding, the narrowing of a portion of Maple Street by six feet to accommodate pedestrian sidewalks has presented residents with additional woes.
A 470-foot stretch of Maple has been reduced--by a width of between 12 to 16 inches, according to town officials--thus causing the elimination of on-street parking.
Several residents complained at this week's countil meeting that the no-parking ban made it difficult on visitors to their homes. Others complained that the shortened width made it difficult and dangerous to back out of their driveways. One resident said the reduced width made him vulnerable to on-coming traffic from the opposite direction while backing-out. None of the residents were opposed to the sidewalks, just the narrowing of the road.
In constructing the sidewalks, the borough needed the extra road width due to stone walls located at the bottom of lawns at two homes.
However, it came as quite a surprise when one of the residents with the stone wall said she had never been asked for permission to remove the wall thus eliminating the need for the bump-out.
“I would never have opposed this,” she said, and felt sure her next door neighbor felt the same way.
This revelation caused a stir among council members who came to the realization that had the stone walls been removed it would not have been necessary to narrow the road width.
“We should take a hard look at tearing down the walls and restoring the six feet (sic),” Councilman Dr. Bob Robinson said.
Mayor J. Brooke Hern took a similar approach, saying, “If safety requires we do it over, we should,” he said.
In late August, using $180,000 from a Safe Routes to School Grant, the borough installed sidewalks along Maple for students attending Salt Brook School.
Sidewalks were installed on the east side of the street from Clearwater Pool to the school. In addition, sidewalks were installed off Brookside Drive from Maple to Glenbrook.
The narrowed road and the placement of dozens of emergency no-parking signs played havoc with parents dropping children off at Salt Brook School. “The first day of school was without exception a disaster,” Borough Administrator Doug Marvin said. The snarled traffic demanded police presence to direct traffic.
The opening of the Borough Council meeting began on a somber note as Mayor Hern called for a moment of remembrance of the victims of the World Trade Center attack and the death early Monday of 5-year-old Brooke Healey, who had been battling a brain tumor.
“There are no words to express our condolences,” Hern said.
“She was heroic in her fight. May her spirit always be with us,” Councilman Jim Madden said.