SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ - The Scotch Plains Township Council has approved a traffic ordinance in a 4-1 vote that is designed to reduce traffic congestion and improve child safety on Homestead Terrace near Brunner Elementary School.
Under the new ordinance, vehicles are prohibited from parking on Homestead Terrace between the intersection of Cedar Brook Road and Muir Terrace to Westfield Road from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on school days only.
Preceding the council discussion, many residents of Homestead Terrace voiced their concerns over an imminent parking problem that would result in the new ordinance, especially during the winter months.
However, not all of the local residents who spoke were against the proposed parking restriction.
“The traffic conditions over the past few years have been horrendous,” said William McLaughlin, who has been a resident on Homestead Terrace for over 50 years. McLaughlin predicts that there would be a serious accident if nothing is done about the congested streets.
“We are trying to move (and) spread the parking, so that there’s more room for cars to pass and there’s more room for kids to walk in the street,” explained Scotch Plains Police Chief Brian T. Mahoney, who mentioned that they’ve tried different drop-off configurations. Mahoney acknowledged that there may be some level of inconvenience for the school parents and to the residents of Homestead Terrace.
Township Engineer Robert Lyons explained that there wasn’t a good alternative to the traffic pattern, so the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Board of Education decided to support the proposed parking restrictions. Alternate travel routes were considered in the studies conducted by the Scotch Plains Police and Lyons.
“The Board of Ed was working towards creating a drop-off, but was unable to find a configuration that didn't create more problems than it solved,” explained Councilman Llewellyn Jones.
Councilwoman Colleen Gialanella was the only member of the council to vote against the ordinance.
Gialanella suggested that the ordinance would just be pushing the problem back. “My concern is that we will not put a complete streets policy in its place and we will not look at the safe routes to school,” explained Gialanella, who is the mother of a Brunner student.
Scotch Plains Mayor Kevin Glover explained the council could repeal the ordinance if it has proved that the law has made no improvement to the conditions.