NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – The removal of “Customer Only Parking” signs from the Village Shopping center may be a harbinger of parking peace in the downtown business district.
 
“We’re moving in the right direction,” said Councilman Gary Kapner who, along with Councilman Dr. Bob Robinson, has been charged by fellow council members to reach out to property owners to facilitate a solution,
 
 
“Our role is to lay the groundwork and build consensus (among property owners),” Robinson said.
 
Late last week, both council members along with some borough officials walked the downtown business area to get a sense of what needed to be accomplished. During the downtown trek, Kapner said the group also reached out to property owners.

 
Robinson said the borough’s Economic Development Committee composed of a borough-wide cross-section of residents and property owners had received a proposal from Heyer, Gruel and Associates for professional planning services to conduct a downtown parking study.
 
While no immediate agreement was reached on a possible expenditure, Robinson said that “at some point we’re going to need money for Heyer-Gruel to get us to first base.”
 
In an observation, Council President Michael Gennaro applauded the effort to allow those people most affected by any parking plan to be a part of the process to arrive at a solution
 
“The more convenient we can make parking for residents and visitors, the more prosperous current and new businesses will be,” Gennaro said.
 
After addressing the parking issue, council members turned their attention to the long overdue repaving of Central Avenue from Maple Street to South Street.
 
Council members unanimously approved an authorization to bid the roadway improvement project at an anticipated cost of $500,000.
 
Funds for the project include a $200,000 grant with the remaining balance coming from the 2012 and 2013 capital improvement budgets. Construction is expected to be completed by November.
 
From repaving to basketball, the council approved the final reading of an ordinance providing for the renovation and reconstruction of four basketball courts located at the Community Pool and agreed to appropriate $200,000 for the project, with almost $105,000 of debt in the form of bonds or notes.
 
In addition to the borough’s participation, additional funding will be provided by a $50,000 Union County grant and $40,000 from the Community Pool.

Robinson pointed out that the courts are for all residents with the borough receiving exclusive use from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for its summer youth program activities. Pool members will use the courts from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.  After that, the courts will remain open to all residents until 10 p.m. allowing for games to be played under the lights.

The renovation of Hillview Field has begun with the installation of artificial turf scheduled for next week. The council approved an additional $75,000 to improve drainage and install a new irrigation system.

Councilman Jim Madden emphasized that the field is currently closed and will remain so until next spring. Signs asking residents to stay off the grass are being ignored, especially by youngsters. He urged residents to comply with the regulations.

Councilman Robert Munoz said Hillview Field is only the first of many borough fields that will be renovated. He added that residents adjacent to fields will continue to be involved in discussions.

Councilman Armand Galluccio advised residents that the Planning Board is scheduled to continue hearings on a proposed application to construct a 7-Eleven on South Street on Sept. 3.

He said that the applicant had cancelled several previous appearances and advised residents interested in attending the hearing to consult the borough’s website.