Other NJ News

Somerville Approves Free Downtown Parking During Holiday Season

d557a754752bf470aad8_sompixparkinglotsigns.JPG
Somerville has waived parking fees in Lots 1, 2, 4 and 6 from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day. Credits: Rod Hirsch
d557a754752bf470aad8_sompixparkinglotsigns.JPG

SOMERVILLE, NJ - As expected, the Borough Council last night continued its longstanding holiday tradition of waiving parking fees between Thanksgiving and New Year’s to help boost retail traffic in the downtown area.

The resolution, which passed unanimously, waives parking fees in Lots 1, 2, 4 and 6. A pre-existing holiday and weekend parking ordinance was amended to include Lot 4 in the exemption.

Metered parking will continue on Main Street.

Sign Up for E-News

The vote came following an exchange between Mayor Brian Gallagher and several merchants who blame decreased traffic on Main Street and in their stores on higher parking fees that were increased late last year.

With Black Friday looming, downtown merchants were anxious for the resolution to be passed with several dozen retail store and restaurant owners on hand for the vote.

Afterwards, they promised to blitz social media to spread the word.

Free parking during the holiday is a tradition in Somerville, designed to attract shoppers and visitors to the downtown area and increase retail traffic in the stores along Main Street, the Division Street pedestrian mall and other side streets lined with restaurants and shops.

There are 1,100 parking meters and pay stations in the borough, according to Kevin Sluka, borough clerk.

Last year, however, the borough limited free parking in the metered lots during the holiday season to Saturdays only; there is no charge for parking in the lots on Sundays.

Increased parking fees instituted late last year have been a contentious issue with merchants, some of whom have organized an upstart business association, Business Owners on Main, in an effort to modify or eliminate metered parking as one of its objectives.

BOOM has met twice since Oct. 26, with some members attending the monthly meeting of the Downtown Somerville Alliance Nov. 14, where the conversation continued.

The DSA is empowered by the Borough Council to advocate for business and property owners and to market and promote the downtown, as well as impose a tax on Main Street property owners within the designated Special Improvement District to fund its efforts.

Gallagher proposed Monday night, and the Borough Council agreed, that a dormant parking study committee be revived, with members of BOOM, the DSA, Borough Council and a few residents appointed to re-examine the parking dilemma.

BOOM will meet again Dec. 11.

The lame-duck mayor, who was elected to a three-year term as a Somerset County Freeholder and will assume office Jan. 5, said the Borough Council had reached a consensus last year before implementing the higher rates, saying it was unfair for borough taxpayers to subsidize public parking.

There are two other options, Gallagher explained: the DSA could subsidize the parking fees by charging property owners and landlords a higher tax, or charging the motorists who park downtown to pay for the upkeep and maintenance of the lots.

“I don’t think it is fair for Somerville taxpayers to pay for the lots,” Gallagher said.

There is a fourth option, according to Anthony Ianniello, owner of Alfonso’s Family trattoria and Gourmet Pizza, a fixture on West Main Street for more than 60 years. 

 Ianniello advocates free parking, but even he admits there is little likelihood that will happen.

“The first thing you have to do in business is take care of your customers,” Ianniello said. “How can a downtown survive when we make it more difficult for our customers to come downtown,” he continued.

“You guys have to notice there’s no one there,” he told Gallagher and the council members.

Gallagher also said it is unfair to blame decreased Main Street traffic entirely on the revised parking fees, pointing to the undulations in the retail market and shopping patterns of consumers.

 “The world of retail is shot,” Gallagher said. “It doesn’t look good,” he added, pointing to major retailers and shopping malls that he claimed too, were “sucking wind.”

“Amazon wins,” he said, a reference to the online retail juggernaut.

Gallagher also suggested that rather than retreating to their respective corners and pointing fingers at one another, stakeholders should come together and explore alternatives to boost retail traffic in the downtown area.

The revised parking regulations, first adopted late last year and revised earlier this year, extend the time limits placed on Main Street parking meters from two to three hours, and eliminate time restrictions from off-street parking meters in municipal parking lots 1,2,4,6 and 7.

The borough maintains seven parking lots; Parking lots 1 and 2, behind the Main Street shopping district stretching from Maple Street on the east to North Doughty Avenue on the west, includes 300 spaces, according to Sluka. Lot 7, located on E. High Street between North Bridge Street and Grove Street has 170 spaces.

Lots 3, 4 and 5 on the east side of the borough are much smaller. Lot 6 is primarily used for jurors who drive in from outside Somerville.

The revisions adopted earlier this year include:

·       Enforcement times Monday-Saturday that begin at 9 a.m. were extended three hours, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., meaning there will fewer hours to park for free;

·        The new enforcement times in Parking Lots 1, 2, 4 and 6 are Monday through Saturday 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Hourly rates increased from 25 to 75 cents an hour for Lots 1,2 and 6;

·        The rates for Lot 7 increased from 25 cents to 50 cents per hour. Sluka said efforts are being made to encourage merchants, employees and others who spend their day in Somerville to park in Lot 7, which will add up to significant savings over a month’s time. Enforcement times in Lot 7 are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m-8 p.m.;

·         The hourly rate for Lot 4 was increased to $1 per hour with a maximum parking time of 2 hours. 

          The 12-minute, limited-time penny meters in the vicinity of the Post Office on Division Street have been left untouched.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

South Plainfield

The Athlete of the Week Marc Giordano Wrestling

The South Plainfield Wrestling Team continues to have a very successful season.  The team not only won a Group III State Championship for the third consecutive year, but they also won a state record 34th consecutive District Championship.  The top three wrestlers will go on to compete in Union in the Regions for the opportunity to wrestle in Atlantic City for an individual state ...

The Athlete of the Week Joe Sacco Wrestling

The South Plainfield Wrestling Team finished their dual meet season with a deceiving 20-7 record.  This past week saw the Tigers defeat Ewing (69-4), Bordentown Regional (49-9), and Ocean Township (54-6) to win the Central Jersey Group III Sectional Championship.  This advanced South Plainfield to the Group III State Championships yet again.  The wrestling team defeated Voorhees ...

Obituaries

South Plainfield – Jean Louise Walter, 84, died suddenly Tuesday, February 20, 2018 at JFK ...
Read more

Letters to the Editor

South Plainfield Middle School Student Council Thanks Supporters

February 21, 2018

The South Plainfield Middle School Student Council would like to express our thanks for the support of local businesses and organizations in our fundraising efforts.  A spaghetti dinner was hosted by the South Plainfield Elks Lodge #2298 on January 13th.  Mrs. Sharon Reuter and members of her Youth Committee and kitchen crew provided dinner for family, friends and staff of South ...

Local Student on Dean's Commendation List at Gettysburg College

February 23, 2018

GETTYSBURG, PA -- Gettysburg College students take pride in their work, and we are likewise proud to announce their recent academic achievements.

Gettysburg College students with a quality point average in the range of 3.300 to 3.599 for a semester's work are placed on the Deans' Commendation List. The following students from your area have been placed on the Fall 2017 ...

Community Happenings

Harlem Wizards are Coming to Town!

February 23, 2018

The Harlem Wizards are coming to town to play against the SP Teaching Tigers (team made up of SP Educators) on 3/24 at 6 pm at the South Plainfield Middle School.  Buy tickets online @ harlemwizards.com. See flyer for prices

Special halftime performance by Pop Warner National Cheer Champions as well as a special cheer performance from some teachers!

Volleyball Fundraiser for the Eggert Family on March 11, 2018

February 18, 2018

WHAT:

Two divisions, Co-Ed High School and Co-Ed adult

Guaranteed two games per team

Double Elimination

8 people per team

 

COST:

High School teams = $50 per team

Adult Teams = $100 per team

12 Teams Max for each division

Please mail checks to 1107 Worth Drive, South Plainfield NJ 07080

High school - please submit your teams and payment to Justin ...

Holy Savior Academy hosts appreciation luncheon for Deanery Pastors

February 16, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - The students and Board of Limited Jurisdiction of Holy Savior Academy (HSA), South Plainfield hosted a special luncheon to honor and celebrate the Pastors of twelve local Catholic churches that sponsor the school.  

The event was held at HSA on Tuesday February 13 and included a festive lunch featuring a home-cooked meal prepared by members of ...

Holy Savior Academy Cheer Competition

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - Holy Savior Academy’s cheerleading squad is on winning streak.  Competing at the Biddy Level in the CCCANJ League, the girls took 1st place in the first two competitions of this cheer season. The 12 girl squad competed in the Immaculate Conception and the St. Mary’s competitions and came out on top beating fellow Catholic Schools, Immaculate ...

Bios, Photos of Past Labor Day Grand Marshals Needed for Eagle Scout Project

February 21, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Joseph Kelly, a senior at South Plainfield High School and member of Boy Scout Troop 207, is seeking the community’s help to see his Eagle Scout project come to fruition.

Kelly is looking to compile a ‘wall of fame’ honoring the men and women who have served as honorary grand marshals of the borough’s Labor Day Parade since 1961. The ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_2016772e51de2589b65e_lenten_dinners

Fri, February 23, 5:00 PM

South Plainfield

The Sacred Heart Lenten Fish Dinners

Carousel_image_160974dbc9379a0238f6_meet_the_mayor

Sat, February 24, 8:00 AM

South Plainfield

Meet the Mayor at the Senior Center

Carousel_image_01278d9d6764037b0a59_children_s_march_flyer-page-001

Sat, February 24, 2:00 PM

South Plainfield

The Children’s March being shown at the South ...

Sat, February 24, 4:00 PM

American Legion, South Plainfield

Boy Scout Troop 207 Spaghetti Dinner

Food & Drink

Carousel_image_4d7f13f1bac1e8a84adb_races_flyer_4-page-001

Sat, February 24, 7:00 PM

South Plainfield

Night at the Races - Tricky Tray

Carousel_image_9f909feb9ba5e44bff20_img_3263

Sun, February 25, 1:00 PM

South Plainfield

Open House 312 Elissa Court South Plainfield

Real Estate

Columns

Diegnan: Computer Science Now Required in New Jersey Schools

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Legislation sponsored by Senator Patrick Diegnan to require school districts to offer course in computer science and Department of Education to adopt changes to NJ Student Learning Standards in computer science has been signed into law.

“To flourish in tomorrow’s digital economy and society, our children should be learning computer science,” said ...

South Plainfield: A Heart for Giving

South Plainfield received over two inches of rain this past weekend. Fortunately, Mother Nature has cooperated, and the precipitation was not of the frozen variety. Despite the rain, nothing could put a damper on South Plainfield’s spirit of helping those in need.

On Saturday a few Borough employees and I had the opportunity to deliver funds that have been raised for a family that has ...

Prayers the Devil Answers by Sharyn McCrumb

Prayers the Devil Answers by Sharyn McCrumb (Altria, 2015)

 

Years later, after the tragedy, someone remembered the Dumb Supper and what had happened there. That was the cause of it, they said, because the ritual wasn't a game after all. It really was magic, but magic has rules, and she broke them. Even when they call it a 'senseless tragedy,' people always try to find a ...

Bookmarks

What, February is nearly over already?  No doubt you were just getting used to it.  So, before March arrives like the proverbial lion, let’s look at upcoming events at South Plainfield Library:

            With a couple of additions and one cancellation, we’ve got a usual slate of children’s programs next ...

Press Releases

Diegnan Announces State Funding For Road Project On Hadley Road

February 23, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ  – Senator Patrick Diegnan with New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) officials today announced $881,550 in state funding for the start of a project for improvements and paving work on Hadley Road in South Plainfield.

“As someone who is a lifelong resident of South Plainfield, I know how important Hadley Road is to our residents and local ...