CHATHAM, NJ - A proposal to add 14 parking spaces behind St. Paul's Church to help seniors and residents gain more access to parking at the Library of the Chathams was discussed on Monday night at the Borough of Chatham Council meeting.

Representatives for the library and St. Paul's Church were among those speaking in favor of the move during the public portion of the meeting. Neal Collins was the most vocal critic of the plan. The majority of those in opposition live on North Hillside Avenue, including Collins.

John Bennett, mayor of the borough from 1980 to 1983, spoke in favor, noting that it represented "Body, mind and spirit," referring to the athletic fields, the library and the church, in the plan that would represent the "greater good for the greater number."

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The cost would be $16,000 to $17,000 to complete. Funding would have to be approved by the council before any work could start. Vince DeNave, Chatham Borough engineer, estimated the project could be completed by mid-spring, if approved.

"The long-range traffic and pedestrian safety  committee has been discussing this for a while and is recommending a small expansion to the lot behind St. Paul's at Memorial Field," Councilman James Collander said. "The proposal is to add 14 spaces, which would be added to the 53 spaces that are there. I believe what we are proposing is modest to the extreme in scope."

The new spaces would take up 4,500 square feet, which would be carved out of the grass that extends behind St. Paul's lot, toward the athletic fields.

"Why are we proposing this and what would the benefits be?" Collander said. "The library has come to us countless times asking for help. Cars don't go away. You have to find spaces. I've been on the council for nine years and this is the fourth time this has come up."

DeNave used overhead views provided by Google Maps to explain the project, noting that it would not affect any water drainage.

Library Director Karen Brodsky cited a study that showed people don't go to the library because of problems finding a parking space. See video below:

Neal Collins of North Hillside Avenue gives his take on why the spaces should not be added below: