NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – The city is asking Rutgers University to comply with the conditions of a 2002 site plan resolution that calls for round-the-clock access to a passageway cutting across the Child Health Institute of New Jersey campus.
In a letter dated Jan. 15 and addressed to Rutgers construction official Scott Luthman, the interior portion of the passageway is open only during the day.
In the letter, written by New Brunswick's acting director of the department of planning and economic development Daniel Dominguez, the Child Health Institute was approved almost two decades ago by the city’s planning board on the condition that the passageway connecting French Street to Somerset Street remain open.
According to the letter – a copy of which was provided to TAPinto New Brunswick - the development of the area resulted in the city vacating what was formerly Scott Street.
“The passageway was required in an effort to facilitate travel through the block and mitigate the worsened pedestrian movement created by the RWJ (Robert Wood Johnson) ‘mega-bloc,’” according to the letter.
The letter also takes issue with the inoperable elevator facing French Street. With the elevator not functioning and the passageway blocked, the situation is creating a possible violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
According to the letter, the site plan also requires the passageway to have signage to facilitate its use. None of the signage from the site plan, however, is located at the facility.
Dominguez’s letter asks Rutgers to submit a corrective action plan within a month. Or, Rutgers could request a return to the Planning Board to amend the approved resolution and “provide the Board with justification for a proposed amendment.”
The original owners were private developers, but at some point the property was transferred to Rutgers.
Dominguez said at the Jan. 13 Planning Board meeting that since Rutgers is a state entity, he “can’t write them a zoning ticket.”
“We are attempting to resolve this amicably and I believe we will come to an understanding,” he said.
According to an email provided to TAPinto New Brunswick from a Rutgers spokesperson, "The university, by way of the letter to Scott Luthman, was recently made aware of the 2002 site plan resolution. The noncompliance predates the university's integration with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and it is not clear how and when it occurred. This is an area that has undergone many changes in the last 18 years. We are assessing the situation, including the continued need for the remedies cited in the resolution."
According to Rutgers' Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital website, the Child Health Institute is a comprehensive biomedical research center dedicated to improving child health "through the study of mechanisms underlying children's diseases."
The Institute is the cornerstone of the children's academic health campus in New Brunswick and collaborates in its research initiatives with Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School's Department of Pediatrics and Pediatric Clinical Research Center, The Bristol-Myers Squibb Children's Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and PSE&G Children's Specialized Hospital.