Not Quite In the Bag: Reversing Course, Summit Council Introduces Ordinance to Return Summit Ave. Meters to Original Use

A proposed ordinance would see eight parking meters along Summit Avenue 'unbagged' and returned to previous functionality. Credits: Greg Elliott / TAPinto Summit

SUMMIT, NJ—Following a number of resident complaints at the last Summit Common Council meeting -- and comments from a Summit Avenue businessmen at the second meeting of September -- the Hilltop City’s governing body introduced an ordinance to rollback the employee parking designation of eight meters located on Summit Avenue to five-hour meters while the city’s business administrator and parking services agency manager study long-term solutions for the area.

In introducing the measure, Council general services chairman Patrick Hurley said his committee had decided on the rollback measure on September 18 — the day before the second council meeting this month. 

He added the reason the section of Summit Avenue in the area of 145-147 Summit Avenue originally was chosen for the expansion of the “bagged meter” program for employee parking was that the area once was designed for on-street parking by employees of the Summit Medical Group when it was situated in the area.

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At the September 5 Council session residents of the apartment building at 145-147 Summit Avenue protested conversion of the five-hour meters in front of their building to employee-only parking on weekdays. One of the residents, Karen Blumenfeld of 147 Summit Avenue, said residents believed their section of the street had been “carved out” for the parking designation change without notice to neighborhood residents.

At the last Council meeting she also said that the condominium at 50 Parmley Place, which has underground parking for all tenants and where Councilman-at-Large Richard Sun resides, apparently had been “exempted” from the employee-only parking zone. 

She also said the condominium has two free “loading zones” on the street at which that building’s landscaper parked without paying a fee.

At the September 19 session, Bruce Grimaldi, the owner of a business at 151 Summit Avenue, indicated the bagged meter plan was troubling to business owners at 151-155 Summit Avenue and their customers in addition to the apartment building residents. Grimaldi said the changed designation forced those in the area to find parking that was more restrictive and less convenient in other sections of the neighborhood. He called for repeal of the ordinance creating the employee-only meters on the section of Summit area near his business and the apartments.

Appearing before the Council on September 19, Blumenfeld asked the council for an update on the bagged-meter situation. She also said that Council members on September 5 should have realized that her remarks were not meant as a disparagement of Sun but more a request that he speak out on the situation and join with his neighbors in seeking a solution.

Responding to her September 19 remarks, Ward I Councilman David Naidu said that, while anyone had the right to express their opinions in a public meeting, he did not like the implication that somehow other councilmen were “playing favorites” when they responded to her September 5 remarks concerning the councilman-at-large.

Naidu then asked each of the Council members, Mayor Nora Radest and City business administrator Michael Rogers whether any favoritism toward Sun entered into their comments or actions on the Summit Avenue parking change. All denied there was any favoritism.

Additionally, Rogers said the City’s Land Use Board designed the two Parmley Place loading zones at the request of the developer of the area.

First Ward Councilman Robert Rubino, apparently referring to Blumenfeld’s remarks, said, “Speculation unencumbered by evidence deserves no response.”

Council president Michael McTernan added that the public comment sections of Council meetings were intended as comment sections, not “question-and-answer sections,” and this applied to the Summit Avenue remarks.

The public hearing and possible adoption of the ordinance rolling back the Summit Avenue “hooded” parking meter designations is scheduled for October 17.

In other actions at the governing  body’s second September session, Council members approved the appointment of Michael Alesandro of Oak Ridge as Summit’s newest police officer. Radest then administered the oath of office to Alesandro. Radest also swore in five Summit Auxiliary Police officers and proclaimed September as Volunteer First Aid Squad (SVFAS) Month in Summit, recognizing the SVFAS' 55 years of service to the City.

In addition, the councilmen:

  • Authorized a temporary agreement with AHS Hospital Corp., the parent of Overlook Medical Center, to allow the city access to the area adjacent to the hospital so they can create pathways or other areas in Phase I of the Summit Park Line project.
  • Approved submittal of an application to the New Jersey Department of Transportation for a grant through the department’s Bikeways program, also in connection with Phase I of the Summit Park Line project.
  • Okayed applications for grants under the state DOT’s Safe Streets to Transit program to improve pedestrian access to areas around the Summit Train Station and for Phase 2 of the Village Green Pedestrian Safety Project under the DOT.
  • Approved naming of a section of Chestnut Avenue, near City Hall, for the late Detective Matthew Tarantino as “Detective Matthew Tarantino Way at a “Make a Difference Day celebration to be held next month.
  • Introduced an ordinance, slated for an October 3 hearing, that would allow Celgene Corporation to expand processes at its West Campus to include research and development of chimeric antigen receptor T-cells there. Rubino said patient samples would be brought to the facility, developed then returned to be applied to patients.

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