CHATHAM, NJ - Mary Tracy has lived on Girard Avenue for 65 years and raised six children who all walked to school. She came to the Borough of Chatham Council meeting on Monday night to tell the council members that she is against adding sidewalks to her part of the street.
At the July 23 meeting of the council, newer Girard Avenue residents had come before the council to voice safety concerns in relation to the narrow portion of the street that has no sidewalks. Tracy was among the 10 Girard Avenue neighbors to make the counter-argument against extending sidewalks to Watchung Avenue during public commentary on Monday.
"I raised six children who walked to school every day and never had a problem," Tracy said. "Where there are sidewalks (on Girard Avenue), not one of them walk down our street to go to school. Their parents drive them to school. We don't need sidewalks on our street."
Girard Avenue measures 22 feet wide toward the Willow Street end and narrows to 20 feet at bottom of the street that runs into Watchung Avenue.
Hugh Ames said that the narrowness of the street makes it a "very unattractive" street to drive on and makes it less likely to become a cut-through street. Hughes also asserts in the video below that he talked to 18 residents of Girard Avenue and none of them want the road widened or sidewalks installed on either side.
In answering concerns about pedestrian safety on the narrow portion of Girard Avenue, resident Ray Schaefer said (in the video below) that "common sense" alleviates any concerns. Anyone walking on the street should make sure they face the traffic when they walk where there is no sidewalk.
Mahmoud Salem, who commutes to New York and walks home from the train station, said that he has experienced no safety problems walking up the street without a sidewalk (see video below). Salem also noted that the narrowness of the road near Watchung Avenue makes cars slow down to turn onto Girard Avenue.
"You have to slow down," Salem said. "There is no way you can drive fast. I don't really see the point of having sidewalks."
Council President James Collander said that the police department has been collecting traffic data on Girard Avenue and will be discussing the situation at its meeting scheduled for the end of August.
In other business, the council unanimously approved a resolution to establish the Chatham Borough Recreation Advisory Committee. Chatham Borough and Chatham Township already have a joint recreation advisory committee. According to Chatham Borough Bruce Harris, the borough is forming the committee to discuss borough-only recreation such as Garden Park. The newly formed committee will hold its meetings in public.