SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – The South Plainfield Borough Council, at a Sept. 3 meeting, approved an amendment to a decades old ‘no parking – loading zone’ ordinance specific to a 50-foot section of South Plainfield Avenue near Sacred Heart Church. 

Back in July, Senator Patrick Diegnan, a South Plainfield resident and Sacred Heart parishioner, reached out to the borough to see what, if anything, could be done to make parking on South Plainfield Avenue more accessible for older or medically challenged parishioners. According to Borough Administrator Glenn Cullen, the department of public works looked into alternatives and although creating handicap spots along this specific stretch of the road was not feasible, officials determined that the ‘no parking’ restriction at the site was no longer applicable. 

“Back when the restriction was first put in place, some 20 to 30 years ago, the area was designated specifically for the stopping and standing of vehicles, such as buses, loading and unloading of passengers,” said Cullen. “However, that is no longer the case.”

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The revision to Vehicles and Traffic Ordinance No. 2151 lifts the ‘no parking’ restriction and enables the borough to create a ‘senior/convenience’ parking zone on South Plainfield Avenue just northwest of Sacred Heart Drive. 

“This is an opportunity to work together to be able to not only better address the needs of our aging community but also to help those individuals who have real health challenges with regard to mobility,” said Rev. John Paul Alvarado, pastor of Sacred Heart. 

While Sacred Heart does have handicap spots on the parking lot side of the property, Rev. Alvarado said there is the long walkway that brings people into the back area of the church. The new, on-street parking along South Plainfield Avenue, according to the pastor, is located ‘just a short distance from the church property’ and will bring parishioners into the front of the building. "That [entry] is basically barrier-free and allows easy access that brings people right up front,” he said. 

With the amended ordinance, the borough's public works department will erect new ‘Be Courteous – Senior/Convenience’ parking signs and repaint the curbing gray – as opposed to yellow, which typically represents no parking. The new parking area will be comparable to the designated expectant mother, veteran, and online pickup spots that currently exist in various retail lots. Although the area will not be enforced by police and violators will not be ticketed, the pastor said he is hopeful that parishioners and community members will be mindful when parking. 

“We are hoping that with a positive Christian spirit, the people will chose to allow those spaces to be used by those parishioners who can really benefit,” said Rev. Alvardado. 

"Thanks go to Borough Administrator Glenn Cullen and the borough's public works department for coming up with a common sense solution and putting everything in place in record time,” Diegnan told TAPinto South Plainfield, adding, “As a parishioner of Sacred Heart I can attest to the need for this designated parking. Our seniors and those facing health challenges will now have convenient access to church. Job well done."

“I am grateful to both Glenn Cullen from the borough and Senator Patrick Diegnan who has played a key role as a catalyst in helping to move things along,” said Rev. Alvarado. 

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