WEST ORANGE, NJ - At its last meeting on Oct. 3, the West Orange Township Council voted unanimously to change the highly-trafficked and very narrow Luddington Road from a two-way to a one-way street. Even with this vote, the controversy continued to be a major focus of Tuesday night's council meeting, as 10 residents from Luddington Road and neighboring streets testified about this issue during the public comment part of the meeting.
Many who came out to speak were under the impression that this issue was going to be reconsidered by the administration and the council after they received an email from Mayor Robert Parisi with an attached letter from Leonard Lepore, municipal engineer, that the administration plans to walk Luddington Road and personally poll all residents along the street.
John Sayers, business administrator, reiterated the administration’s position that it has every intention of following the direction of the council to convert Luddington Road into a one-way street. He said the Mayor received calls and emails after the vote that claimed that the information presented to the council was not accurate based on their conversations among their neighbors. Sayers said this is why the mayor has decided to poll the residents in the coming weeks. He added that the council should not consider this another survey of the residents.
The results of the initial survey made last summer showed that nine Luddington residents approved the change and three objected to it. In a survey conducted by Luddington Road resident Jason Ryan after the meeting, he found that 14 of the 21 residents on the street opposed the change.
Council President Joe Krakoviak pointed out that there seems to be a conflict with Sayers’ assertion that the mayor’s upcoming “polling” in not a “survey.”
Krakoviak added, “I know of no difference between poll and survey. Mr. Sayer also said the polling will have no effect on the ordinance, which the council approved at the Administration’s recommendation. Then why is the town seeking to determine the preference of the Luddington residents?”
Alison Ullrick, who brought this issue to the administration’s attention, questioned why this issue was being disputed again when the process had already been completed. “The major issue was that roughly 1000 cars are traveling down a road with 21 homes. It is highly unusual and unsafe…I believe passionately that a town should protect its citizens…I implore you to stay with your vote.”
Resident Kate Pfeifer said, “We must prioritize safety over convenience. Luddington Road doesn’t feel safe no matter how you feel about the current issue…I will give up convenience any day of the week for the safety of a single child.”
Ryan was joined by several other Luddington Road residents who asked the Administration to look into other alternatives.
“I am concerned about the safety of children. I am equally concerned by the diversion of traffic onto neighboring streets. This deserves further consideration,” said Ryan.
Lepore said he recommended this change because of his concern about the high volume of traffic on a street that is only 20 feet wide and has several sharp curves.
“Safety is paramount. I believe it is safer as a one-way street,” said Lepore. He added that he will look into rerouting the jitney so that it can stop at the end of Luddington Road.
When asked by Krakoviak if the council will receive a report from the administration after its polling of the residents, Sayers said he will discuss this with the mayor and let the council know how Mayor Parisi wants to handle this request.