ANDOVER TOWNSHIP, NJ - As the new school year begins, the chief of police is considering new ways to improve safety for the students. At the August 27 meeting of the Andover Township Committee, the members discussed a new road for bus traffic at Florence M. Burd School.
“With the increased traffic on Newton Sparta Rd, it is not even possible for the buses to turn left out of the school lot,” the chief of police, Gil Taglialatela, said. “We are also concerned with the safety of our officers.”
The current route has buses turning into the school lot, circling in front of the school entrance to drop off the students, then exiting back onto Newton Sparta Road by turning left.
Taglialatela explained when an officer sees the buses ready to turn left, he steps into the road and signals the oncoming traffic to stop. Unfortunately, this situation has resulted in many officers being nearly hit by the oncoming cars.
The new route would have the buses turning right into the school, as they are now, dropping off the students in front of the school, then exiting on a new road behind the school that leads to Deer Pond Road and eventually out to Limecrest Road.
Some residents expressed concerns over the increased traffic on the back road. However, the chief ensured that the road would only give buses access to this new road, and no other vehicles would be allowed to drive out through this street. The new street would only be open for the 20 minutes in the morning for drop off, and 20 minutes after the school day for pick up.
The council considered using the road during Kindergarten pick-up at noon, but it was decided that traffic on Newton Sparta Road is not heavy enough during that time to need the back road.
When the road is not in use, a gate will keep it closed to through traffic. Signage will be provided by the school and will clearly designate the road as, “Buses Only.”
Another resident asked if an officer would still be stationed in front of the school to stop traffic for parents or teachers exiting the school. Taglialatela said the officers have only been responsible for the buses, and if no buses are exiting the school, then the need for an officer would be eliminated.
He reiterated that safety is the biggest concern in this situation.
“After the road is built, the new exit will be monitored for a lengthy time to ensure safety on the back roads as well,” Taglialatela said.
The town will be responsible for paying for the road, with the school paying for the black top and signage.
Another important topic at this meeting was the energy tax, also discussed at the last meeting. Read more about the energy tax situation here.
Committee member Tom Walsh said he spoke with Senator Steven Oroho about having the energy tax returned to the town, and many residents also called the senators to ensure this money is returned. Oroho told Walsh he would support the towns and vote against the energy tax being used in the regular state budget, as long as the returned funds go towards tax relief.
The main concern for the senators in returning these funds was that they would be used for additional services for the town. If the funds would go towards tax relief for the towns, then the senator would support the return of these funds.
Walsh asked the residents to talk to the senators, and let them know the town agrees that the funds should only go towards tax relief.
Sustainable Andover, or “The Green Team,” also reported at the meeting by bringing a basket of vegetables that were raised in the community garden at Sunset Vista Farms.
These vegetables were only a sampling of the many fresh produce that have been donated to the Bodhi Food Bank.
Sustainable Andover will be hosting a Harvest Season Farmers’ Market on September 23 where consumers will have the opportunity to buy locally from farmers and other producers. The Market will feature crafts, produce, breads, and much more. Several wellness and craft workshops will be offered, as well.