MILLBURN, NJ - Residents gathered for a public information session on Complete Streets Phase 2, hosted by Arterial; the firm tasked with designing the Complete Streets project.
The Phase 2 work area encompasses the eastern gateway into downtown Millburn, extending from the intersection of Wyoming Avenue and Millburn Avenue to the Holmes Avenue and Essex Avenue juncture. Approximately 65 residents attended the meeting, with about one-third of those business owners in Millburn.
"Thank you for coming, thank you for your time," David Lustberg CEO of Arterial opened the meeting. "This is going to be a very interactive workshop, everyone is going to get involved. The idea is to get a lot of input, a lot of feedback, and a lot of ideas on the Phase 2 area."
The session, broken into 15 minutes increments, had five tables set up around the room covering topics: pedestrian and cyclist safety, vehicular circulation, train station access at the Millburn station, gateway design aesthetic, and priority concerns for the remaining areas.
Before the breakout sessions began, some residents questioned the format and expressed frustration that the current and future phases were not up for discussion at this event.
Residents used their color-coded name tags to find their starting point and rotated to each station offering suggestions, criticisms, and praise. As the evening continued, the large boards used to write down suggestions quickly filled as the exchange of ideas flowed.
At the pedestrian and cyclist safety table, community members expressed concerns where one South Mountain resident said, "It's dangerous to ride - it's not safe." Other residents took advantage of the blow-up maps and markers to highlight specific problem areas and share their suggestions to address these issues.
Table Two, manned by Sgt. Michael Fattal of the Millburn Police Department and John McCormack of Sam Schwartz Engineering, saw animated discussions and residents posing numerous questions on vehicular circulation. Many residents focused on the flow of traffic that has increased in traditionally calmer residential areas. Sgt. Fattal assured residents that the Millburn Police Department is consistently monitoring traffic patterns and watching for hot spots that need attention.
Members of the Millburn Township Committee manned two of the tables with Committeewoman Dianne Eglow discussing train station access for pedestrians and the traffic flow issues arising from drop-offs on Essex Street. Blinking lights alerting drivers to pedestrians crossing or the possibility of a pedestrian bridge all came from the groups, as well as various ideas on how to safely streamline vehicular drop-offs.
Committeeman Robert Tillotson teamed with Arterial's James Ribaudo to look at the aesthetic design possibilities for the gateway area. Residents agreed 'Millburn' lettering needed to be clearly visible and responded positively to incorporating design elements from Taylor Park or even a large mill wheel bearing the town name to delineate the entrance to downtown.
Lustberg circulated through the crowd, often stopping to engage with residents one-on-one and taking notes. "I think it's going well," Lustberg said.
Station Five encouraged residents to affix anonymous post-it notes to a large map of Millburn with any additional concerns they had outside the Phase 2 area. Comments ranged from neighborhood specific, "Traffic on Parkview a major problem. Ruined the neighborhood. Very dangerous all times of day," to "No stop signs by the middle school for kids to cross." Some comments derided Phase 2, "Fix Phase 1 first! Go back to two lanes by Gotham - parking is silly," and "Don't know why we are doing this - meeting should be how to fix what has been done."
Not all of the commentary was negative. One note simply stated, "I like Complete Streets," and another mirrored a more positive stance on the project. "Phases should be implemented more quickly, as soon as possible. This project is critical for the safety and long-term viability of Millburn's downtown. Pedestrian safety elements should be the priority, especially traffic calming."
By the fourth and fifth rotations, some residents gathered in small groups away from the tables to compare ideas while others lingered at the hot button topic tables. At the end of the meeting, Arterial gathered all the input and maps to take back and consider as Phase 2 moves forward. Lustberg also promised the crowd that more meetings and presentations were forthcoming and encouraged residents to spread the word as the dates are announced.