RARITAN, NJ - The streets of Raritan were a topic of discussion at the December borough council meeting.
During the open public comment period, residents living near Lab Corp, off of Johnson Drive, brought up their concerns about speeding and parking.
Weiss Terrace resident Marissa Marto Sarao asked whether the borough plans to install speed bumps.
“Speeding is out of control,” she said. “The cops do a really good job when they come.”
Mayor Charles McMullin said based on what’s been done elsewhere in the town, his recollection is that speed bumps are planned for Weiss Terrace. During the discussion, the mayor was informed that it is actually speed humps, not bumps, that will be installed.
The difference is that vehicles must slow to about five miles per hour or less for a speed bump, compared to 15 miles per hour for a speed hump.
Borough administrator Dan Jaxel said a grant has been approved for speed humps on Weiss Terrace, and now the funds must be appropriated.
Stan Schrek, borough engineer, added that the speed humps for Woodmere Street have been fully funded, and now that the grant has been approved he’d like to bid out both jobs - Weiss and Woodmere - together to get the best possible pricing.
At issue is the LabCorp expansion that has been in the works since early 2017 when it was presented to the Somerset County Planning Board. The plan includes expanding operations on First Avenue and Johnson Drive by replacing an existing parking lot with a new two-story 95,886-square-foot building.
To compensate for the lost parking, additional surface parking along the front of the property plus a new surface parking lot further west at 20 Johnson Drive is planned. In order to construct the new parking lot, they had to demolish an existing 52,560-square-foot building.
Marto Sarao also questioned when the LabCorp parking lot paving will be completed. She said employees and contractors constantly park on her street.
“They’ll park right on a pile of leaves,” she said, “so the street sweepers and leaf collectors when they come can’t get to it. It’s bad for (the leaf collectors) and for us.”
Schrek said he expects the LabCorp parking lot project to be completed within the next 30 days.
“I went by today,” he said, referring to the same day as the Dec. 17 meeting. “They’ll be seeking a TCO - temporary certificate of occupancy - soon and then there will need to be a final inspection.”
Another Weiss Terrace resident, Bruce Taggart, asked about no parking signage along Johnson Drive once the parking lot paving is complete.
“Currently people are used to parking on the street,” he said.
Taggart said there were times when cars were parked on both sides of Johnson Drive, making it difficult to pass through.
McMullin questioned whether parking on Johnson was a problem prior to the paving project. Taggart said it was rare for cars to be parked there, so the mayor said they would keep an eye on it, but most likely it would go back to the way it was before.
Regarding another section of town, Taggart asked when striping on the newly paved Somerset Street would be done. He said he hopes they aren’t going to put yellow paint - no parking zones - all over the place again.
“There were two spots in front of the post office, they took one away and made the other one handicapped parking," he said. "They also took spots away near Wall Street by the ice cream parlor. The businesses were clamoring for business but there was no place to park.”
The mayor said the business owners he has spoken with agreed.
“They are loving the street unstriped," he said.
He added that Somerset Street is a county road, so the borough has no control over parking space allocation.
“I looked into it years ago,” he said, “and there are rules. The spaces have to be so far from this and from that.”
The timeline for getting the street restriped is in the hands of the county, the gas company and the weather, said Schrek. The night before striping, the temperature has to be above 50 degrees.
While no one seemed to be anxious for parking spaces to be defined again, there was concern about getting the crosswalk striping back.
“Citizens want the crosswalks back so that they can safely cross the street,” said McMullin.
Mayor-elect Zachary Bray added that while the striping may be the county and gas company’s problem, “it’s also our problem because it effects the safety of our residents.”