Residents oppose parking limits on their streets

Council votes down
ordinance after
residents protest

Staff Writer

Council votes down
ordinance after
residents protest
Staff Writer

A group of concerned residents came out to the Red Bank Borough Council meeting last week to discuss parking in the borough.

And it had nothing to do with the parking meters, or the downtown.

Over the past few meetings there have been discussions by the council as to how to curb the extended parking of nonresidents on residential streets, especially Brown Place, South Street, Spring Street, Tower Hill Avenue and Williams Street.

This parking problem is reportedly attributed in large part to students of Red Bank Catholic High School, who drive to school and, due to a lack of space in the RBC parking lot, have to find other places to park, according to Mayor Edward J. McKenna Jr.

Several weeks ago, the council discussed limiting parking on these streets to two hours and providing residents with permits, free of charge.

The council considered an ordinance that called for a two-hour parking limit for the entire length of Williams Street, the north side of Tower Hill Avenue between Branch Avenue and Harding Road, Brown Place between South Street and Branch Avenue, South Street between Branch Avenue and Pinckney Road, and between Branch Avenue and Brown Place.

Spring Street would have had a two-hour limit on the west side of the street, beginning at a point 175 feet south of the southwest corner of Spring Street and East Front Street, and extending southerly to the intersection of Spring Street with Elm Place. Spring Street would also have had a two-hour limit between Harding Road and the Little Silver municipal border.

The two-hour limits would have been in effect from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Residents of the affected streets received a notice in the mail a few weeks ago with information about the proposed ordinance, the reason the council had introduced it, and when the public hearing on the ordinance would be held.

McKenna, at the very beginning of the Aug. 24 meeting, suspended the regular order of business in order to address this issue. Close to 30 people were at the meeting specifically to address this issue.

McKenna said the council would hear from anyone who wished to address the issue, but that he had already received many phone calls from residents of the affected streets saying that the ordinance was unnecessary.

Several residents spoke, each reiterating to the council that being issued a permit to park on their own street was problematic.

"Parking on a public street is a right," said Donald Devine, South Street, "Even if you issue me a permit to park in front of my own house, I still consider it an en­croachment on my rights."

Devine then encouraged the council to table the issue all to­gether, saying that he has never had a problem parking on his own street in the 45 years he has lived in the borough.

McKenna responded to Devine’s comments, saying:

"The whole idea of this ordi­nance in the first place was so that you could park in front of your own house."

Councilwoman Jennifer Beck said that she has had similar prob­lems on her street, but she disagrees with the proposed solution.

"I live on Mclaren Street," she said, "I don’t know that the solution is to put up two-hour parking signs all over town."

Beck said that she believes the borough parking manager needs to make the parking problem in gen­eral, and the problem with where RBC students should park, a priority and come up with a better solution.

"These kids need a place to park," she said.

Many residents suggested that, in the borough’s ongoing talks with RBC to work out where the school might locate more student parking, without infringing on residential areas, that a restriction be put on who is able to bring a car to school. The most common suggestion was for the school to only allow seniors to drive their own cars to school.

According to RBC Principal Robert Abatemarco, the school, working with the borough, private property owners and Red Bank RiverCenter, has been able to access a little more than 100 parking spaces for which students may buy permits.

According to Abatemarco, the parking permits are offered to se­niors on a first come, first serve ba­sis. This year’s senior class has about 270 students, and 100 permits will be made available only to seniors.

"The mayor and council have been great with helping us find parking wherever it is available," said Abatemarco, "We are really grateful for that."

Red Bank Catholic was given ac­cess to 70 parking spaces at the Count Basie fields parking lot lo­cated on West Bergen Place.

"The problem is," said McKenna, "they [students] don’t want to walk."

Abatemarco said that the school provides a shuttle service from the Count Basie lot to the school.

Students could pay anywhere between $400 and $600 for a park­ing permit to park in privately owned lots that span the school year, in addition to the tuition, which totals out at just under $7,000 per year, according to Abatemarco.

"There’s no quick-bullet solution to any of this," said Abatemarco.

Councilman John Curley took the opportunity to comment on contin­ued development in the borough, noting that the town has created this problem.

"The more people we put into Red Bank," he said, "the more parking is a necessity. We need to assume the responsibility that we created the problem ourselves, and I assume that responsibility."

The mayor suggested the council vote against the ordinance, since it was obviously not what the resi­dents wanted, which the council did unanimously.