MAPLEWOOD, NJ – Local residents urged the Township Committee on Tuesday night to reconsider a proposal to expand the parking lot of the former Maplewood Woman’s Club for use as downtown parking.

The township proposal is to repave and connect the Woman’s Club lot at 60 Woodland Road to the existing parking lot at 13 Highland Place. The lots can be then used for shopping and for commuters. The intention was to supply parking because there is not enough.

Speaking during the public portion of the township meeting, Susan Newberry, historian and president of the Durand-Hedden House and Garden Association, said that Maplewood’s unique character is being slowly chipped away with changes like this. She said that adding pavement to Maplewood would make it look like every other town in New Jersey.

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Morgan Hillis, who lives four houses down from the Women’s Club, stated that the change would ruin her street. She asked the committee to think how they would feel if it were them.

“Hold yourselves to the same standards,” Hillis said to the Township Committee and stormed off.

Resident Adreanna Donat said a petition has been sent to the Committee with signatures of over 30 residents. The letter has the support of Jefferson School PTA, Maplewood Middle School HSA, and the Maplewood Historic Preservation Society.

Donat also stated that the parking lot will become a safety issue when children, like her own, will have to walk by a flow of faster cars to get to school.

Resident Matthew Solar stated that he observed the location over a few days and noticed that it was wet and had several feet of water after a recent rainstorm. More pavement would not be an improvement, he explained.

“Having the parking lot is a real detriment to the community,” Sola said.

Mayor Victor DeLuca responded by saying that the town could ask the engineer to revise it and rebid the project.

“I will go up to the planning board,” he said, adding that their concerns will be further discussed on May 20 at the planning board meeting.