Parking issue still unresolved

F.H. council nixes temporary measure; will seek grant
for permanent solution

By Libby Kesil
Staff Writer

F.H. council nixes temporary measure; will seek grant

for permanent solution

By Libby Kesil

Staff Writer

Whatever changes are coming to Fair Haven Road in the area of Sickles School will not be coming anytime soon.

In the face of fierce opposition from residents, the Fair Haven Borough Council, at its meeting on Monday, unanimously rejected an ordinance to create a short-term solution by creating a temporary parking area along the east side of Fair Haven Road bordering McCarter Park.

The Board of Education had recommended revising the paved areas in McCarter Park to provide a drop-off and pick-up location on Fair Haven Road for school days only.

Currently, parking on the east side of Fair Haven Road in the vicinity of Sickles School is prohibited.

Before the vote against the measure, Councilman Garrett Bess said it would be better to wait until it is determined whether the borough would be eligible to receive outside funding for the work and then reconvene on the issue.

"I don’t think the temporary solution would solve any problems except spending money before we find out if we are eligible for some monies from other sources," Bess said.

Borough Engineer Richard A. Moralle presented to the council a possible long-term solution to the problem.

He showed the council plans for proposed sidewalks, a cut-in and 12 additional parking spaces on the east side of Fair Haven Road.

"I had an opportunity to put some numbers together, and we’re also in the process of preparing a grant application," said Moralle.

The plan unveiled by the engineer calls for construction of a six-foot sidewalk along Fair Haven Road from Laurel Drive to Willow Street and along the four dwellings on Fair Haven Road. A cut-in along McCarter Park with a 10-foot sidewalk would also be provided.

The plan would call for restriping spaces and restriping the center line of the road to the opposite side of where it is now, in addition to building a sidewalk that would lead children from the drop-off area to the entrance of the Sickles School.

Moralle said the estimates provided alternatives in doing the reconstruction in concrete, blacktop or wood chips.

"The estimate we are recommending on the grant would be doing it in concrete," said Moralle, although he offered alternatives to lower costs. "We could reduce the width of the sidewalk from six feet to four. We can reduce the landing area of the drop-off area from 10 feet to six. There are a lot of options to try to bring the dollars down."

Mayor William E. Leonard asked Moralle why a sidewalk was needed in front of the homes on Fair Haven Road.

Moralle explained that students coming to and from school who come down Laurel Drive and from the River Road area have to cross Fair Haven Road twice.

"They cross at the Third Street intersection, first along Fair Haven Road, and they have to cross again back onto Willow because there is no sidewalk on that side of the street," he said. "This would prevent that crossing from occurring. It will allow kids to be able to walk, bicycle and such and walk into the school."

Regarding the 12 additional parking spaces, Bess pointed out potential parking problems with the opening of a new restaurant near the school.

"We’re going to have bigger parking problems when that restaurant opens," said Bess. "There is an added benefit in the 12 additional spaces to look at."

Lawrence Quigley of Fair Haven Road addressed the council with his concerns that the proposed changes may exacerbate an already dangerous situation.

"As you know, the junction of Fair Haven Road and Willow Street is quite hazardous," he said. "Allowing parking on the east side of Fair Haven Road will intensify the dangers as parents move into and out of parallel parking spaces as they go north on Fair Haven Road."

He added, "I think all efforts leading to this situation should have the goal of minimizing dangers and increasing safety in this area. The proposed ordinance would have just the opposite effect and clearly intensify the dangers at this site. Trading off the safety of children, bike riders, parents, pedestrians and motorists solely for the convenience of a few is unthinkable."

Mike Foley of Fair Haven Road asked the council, "Why are we trying to fix something that is not broken? We are looking to spend some big bucks on sidewalks. You might get a grant for it, but who is going to maintain the sidewalks? Who is going to clean them? You have to add the expenses all the way down the road. You have a sidewalk on the other side of the street. Kids go back and forth every day."

"We are not committing to the project; we are seeing what our options are," said Bess. "We are in the information-gathering stage right now."