LIVINGSTON, NJ – Gittel Grossbaum, the 10-year-old daughter of LifeTown/Friendship Circle owners and longtime Livingston residents Toba and Rabbi Zalman Grossbaum, attended this week’s Livingston Township Council meeting to urge the governing body to consider addressing two traffic and safety issues near her residential street of North Ashby Avenue.

Her first of two requests was for the township to install “a traffic light or a flashing hazard light” at the corner of North Ashby and Route 10 so that “it can be safe for everyone.”

“There are many accidents that take place at the corner of North Ashby and Route 10,” she said. “When making a left turn from Mt. Pleasant onto North Ashby, or when making a left turn from North Ashby onto Mt. Pleasant, there is a blind spot. When walking, it is even more difficult to try and cross Mt. Pleasant. The only safe place to cross is by walking up to Hillside or to the synagogue, which are both very much out of the way.”

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Gittel also requested that the council consider adding sidewalks west of the circle along Route 10 and to also add a crosswalk on the north side of the circle, crossing Eisenhower Parkway, “so that cars can watch for pedestrians.”

“There are always workers walking along the side of the road, and there is even a path in the grass,” she said. “Now that LifeTown is built, we sometimes walk home on Shabbat and it would be much safer to have the sidewalks and crosswalks.”

Impressed by the young resident's presentation, Mayor Al Anthony, Township Manager Barry Lewis and members of the township council promised to do what they could to remedy these concerns. 

Anthony told Gittel that there are police officers in town who are dedicated to traffic control and asked Lewis to get in touch with those officers in order to see what can be done.

“This is how we run the government—we try to listen to all good ideas and I think you’ve raised a bunch of them,” he said. “Our Town Manager (Barry Lewis) gets on [these ideas] with the professionals who get paid every day to help the town keep running well and safely, and a lot of these are safety issues too.”

Councilman Ed Meinhardt—who invited Gittel to bring her concerns to the council after hearing them over a recent Shabbat dinner that he shared with her family—said the 10 year old spoke as beautifully as he expected her to and noted that the township is fortunate to have the Grossbaum family as part of the Livingston community.

On the tail-end of Gittel’s presentation was another group of residents who are also having traffic issues on their residential street of East Harrison Place. Speaking on behalf of their neighbors were Peggy Sullivan and Bob Wild, who attended Monday’s council meeting with a petition signed by 10 of the 14 homeowners living on the street requesting action from the township.

After visiting the council several times with concerns about the daily street parking that is causing both safety and quality-of-life issues for the residents of East Harrison, Wild told the council that “it’s time that some action was taken.”

“What we’re looking for is some relief in this situation that should never have arisen,” he said.

According to Sullivan, a 25-year resident of East Harrison, the street had permit-parking beginning in 1993, but a former governing body rescinded the ordinance in 2006. Without it, Sullivan said it is only a matter of time until an accident happens.

“It is so narrow that when they’re parked all the way down, side-by-side, you can’t get out of your driveway, you can’t walk your dog, and we don’t have sidewalks,” she said. “It’s dangerous…and they’re parked from the top of the street to probably three-quarters of the way down—especially on [the weekends], but every morning this man (Wilde) has to put his car out in front of his house because they park straight up as far as they can go.”

Due to the street’s proximity to frequented businesses such as Seymour’s Café and Kids at Heart, residents of East Harrison Place often have vehicles parked on both sides of the narrow road beginning at 8 a.m. Although this occurs throughout the week, Sullivan and Wild both noted that the situation worsens on weekends due to the nature of these businesses, and that the employees often park on their street in order to make room in the parking lots for customers.

In fact, due to his involvement on Livingston’s transportation committee, Councilman Michael Vieira added that Lt. Reese Riley—who serves as the police liaison to the transportation committee—looked into it after a committee member who is also an East Harrison resident addressed this during a recent meeting. According to Vieira, Riley found that many of the parked cars are the same from day to day and that some have out-of-state license plates.

All council members acknowledged that the safety and quality-of-life of the residents is crucial and agreed to consider their request to re-instate permit parking on East Harrison Place.

“I don’t think anybody disagrees that action needs to be taken; the question is what will work there for all the neighbors,” said Deputy Mayor Rudy Fernandez.

At the conclusion of the discussion, Meinhardt asked Lewis to reach out to the Livingston Board of Education in order to warn students about this potential change.

“Seymour’s is certainly one of the places that [high school seniors] go to for lunch, and they should know that—if we do pass something—they are not allowed to park there either,” he said. “I don’t want to hear from the parents that we gave tickets to the kids because we put up the permit and didn’t notify them…Even if we can get this done between now and next week, we should tell them at least what’s going on on that street so that the kids will be aware of it ahead of time.”

To read more from this meeting, where the council honored resident Evan Anderson for helping to keep the township clean, promoting good waste-management practices and encouraging others to the same, click HERE.