Parking rules receive raves from parents

CRANBURY- Could become a permanent solution to school circulation problems

By: Melissa Morgan
   New traffic restrictions that limit the times students can be dropped off at the Cranbury School began this week, and so far, the new plan is receiving rave reviews from local parents.
   After a student was almost hit by a school bus in the Cranbury School parking lot a few weeks ago, Chief School Administrator Carol Malouf decided to address traffic circulation problems and try to eliminate some of the congestion.
   In a letter sent home to parents April 22, Ms. Malouf outlined new regulations for dropping off children at school in the morning.
   Beginning this Monday, parents were only allowed to drive into the school lot between 8 and 8:20 a.m. Buses and school faculty and staff vehicles are now permitted into the lot between 8:20 and 8:35 a.m.
   "So far, its seems to be working out quite nicely," said parent Susan Mayes. "It’s a good plan to have in place, and hopefully, it will help solve some of the problems we’ve had for a long time."
   Ms. Mayes said that many parents began following the new rules as early as last week when the letter first went out. She said the benefits of the restrictions outweigh getting the students to school 15 minutes earlier.
   "We were at a point that it was so dangerous that everyone was concerned for the welfare of the kids," she said. "There were times when the traffic was backed up so much and then the bell would ring, kids would run into the street, and some of them were so tiny that you couldn’t see them. If this plan works, it will be to the benefit of everyone."
   Parent Jane Holland also said she has seen more than a few accidents waiting to happen in the school lot.
   "I think the new plan is a great idea," she said. "I’ve seen children weaving in and out between cars," she said. "It was backing up so much, and people were letting their kids out into traffic so they weren’t late for school. It was getting too scary."
   Ruth Jost thinks the plan could work if parents are willing to make an extra effort to follow the rules.
   "As far as safety goes, its not a bad idea at all," said the Cranbury School parent. "Hopefully, parents will be able to get their kids up earlier so some of the problems can be alleviated."
   In order to accommodate the early arrivals, Ms. Malouf said in her letter that teachers will be available from now on to monitor these students at 8 a.m. In addition, Cranbury police will be on hand between 8:20 and 8:35 a.m. to ensure that only authorized vehicles and buses enter the school lot.
   Cranbury Police Chief Harry Kleinkauf said that the plan seems to be working well.
   "Right off the bat, there has been a decrease in traffic back-up on both Main Street and in the parking lot itself," he said.
   While the new plan was created as a temporary solution to years of traffic problems at the Cranbury School, Mayor Michael Mayes said that if the plan works well, the township may consider keeping the new rules in place permanently.
   "As far as Ms. Malouf’s plan, I think it’s a good idea," he said. "We will use the rest of the school year to measure its effectiveness."
   For the past several months, school officials have delayed going forward with other solutions to the circulation problems at the request of the Township Committee. Mr. Mayes said that they hope to solve traffic problems in and around the school as the township develops the adjacent 12-acre Wright South parcel.
   The committee has hired Brown and Kenner Urban Designs to assist in planning the parcel and to evaluate traffic conditions on both Main Street and in the school lot.
   "The Wright parcel is being planned for a number of civic and school uses," said Mr. Mayes. "It is so close that we must make sure we integrate our plans and look at how parking there will also effect school circulation."
   Mr. Mayes said the township planner and traffic consultant will consider solutions to circulation problems over a four- to six-month period. The township should start getting back recommendations by the fall. He said that if the new plans involve construction in the school, this would begin as soon as possible. In the meantime, he said that the temporary plan could continue into the beginning of the next school year and maybe even longer.
   "Ms. Malouf’s temporary solution has clearly improved safety, and it seems to be improving congestion on Main Street as well," he said. "If the plan is working and we can continue to do something with minimal impact and great effectiveness, it would be very useful."
   Parent Helene Hughes thinks the plan is excellent and said she will be happy if it continues.
   "I am so glad that Ms. Malouf finally did something about this," she said. "It’s horrible that a child almost getting hit had to be the thing that made her finally get something done, but I’m glad it was. It’s never good to pussy-foot around on something like this."