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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Free Parking at Westfield High School, a Monopoly or Right?

     In the early 1980's Westfield High School did not have a parking problem; bike racks were filled, students were not allowed to leave school grounds for lunch, and the school was occupied by sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
     Fast forward to 2011, the racks are empty, upperclassmen can come and go for lunch, and freshman, who once were housed at Roosevelt and Edison, now attend school at 550 Dorian Rd.  More grade levels, more teachers, more cars, less on site parking for students.  There are other factors limiting the available spaces for students to park on school property.
     For many of the residents, living in the neighborhoods around the high school, the parking of "commuter" cars has become an issue that won't be resolved in the near future.  Side streets such as Dorian Rd, Shadowlawn Dr, Shackamaxon, Westfield Ave, and Codding Rd, are transformed into parking lots Monday thru Friday during the school year.  Not only are these streets used as parking lots, but according to local residents, students are using their parked cars as "brothels and bars."
     Residents have complained that they have found everything from spent condom wrappers and alcoholic beverage containers to drug paraphernalia littering the gutters alongside these mobile machines of mayhem.
Something has to give.  Is more off-street parking the answer?

     There have been public outreach meetings sponsored by the Westfield Board of Education and the Westfield Town Council.  The Town has hired a traffic safety consultant, Gordon Meth.  His fee, allegedly a retainer of sorts....... more than $10,000 but less than $15,000.  TFoTM has attended the meetings and nothing has been resolved.  We say common sense shoud prevail.
     Gordon Meth is the engineer responsible for the Central Ave. pedestrian light  project at Cambridge and Central.  A year later, that issue is still being debated.         
     Perhaps, had common sense ruled during that debacle's planning stages, Westfield taxpayers would not have been subjected to the wasteful spending and politics that resulted in turning a residents driveway into an intersection and jeapardizing pedestrian safety with a mid-block crossing;  that saga continues.
     There have been suggestions by residents that a "horseshoe" type driveway be constructed in front of the high school, off Dorian Rd., to allow busses and parents to drop off students.  This will not stop cars from parking and/or stopping on Dorian Rd in front of the high school, to off-load passengers, clogging the roadway. 
     Unless signs are errected prohibiting parking and the dropping off and picking up of passengers, and strictly enforced by police, Dorian Rd, in front of the high school, wil remain a nightmare before and after the school bell regardless of a "horseshoe."
     Some have suggested paving the stretch of green adjacent to Rahway Ave, extending the parking lot outside the school's auditorium to accomodate more cars.  It still won't solve the parking isuue.
     This blog can go on and on about what could be done.  While Mr. Meth gathers data, crunches numbers, and develops a "game plan," common sense will keep spinning its wheels.
     Local politicians and school board members will lead the way, arranging for more public outreach meetings, all the while the Town's consulting engineer will cash his check.

     Everyone effected by this issue has an opinion and so does TFoTM.  This week's internet radio show will feature this topic.  Tune in to BlogTalkRadio this week and call in to voice your opinion..  Date and time to be posted. 
     The Westfield High School parking issue is far from over and will continue unless things change. 
Common sense doesn't cost $15 grand, it's free.
Attending high school is a parking?  Should it be free?
     A police officer once stopped a carload of students that had just left WHS, heading out for lunch.  The lunch bell rang, they piled into a car, and headed down Dorian Rd, towards Boulevard.  The lunch-bound vehicle ran the stop sign at Park St. and Boulevard, before this intersection became a four-way stop, and nearly broadsided a police car traveling on Boulevard. 
     The police officer pulled the vehicle over and asked the driver for her license, registration, and insurance.  The driver's license and vehicle credentials revealed that the driver lived on Stoneleigh Park directly across from Westfield High School.  The driver admitted that she drove to school that day, a couple hundred feet away, and parked outside the high school for the sole purpose of being able to go out to lunch with her friends and return in the nick of time before lunch time was over.  Is this absurd, you be the judge.  Common sense has to prevail.
     This motor vehicle infraction took place before restrictions were put on how many passengers could ride in a car with a new licensed driver.  Did the driver's haste contribute to the motor vehicle violation?  Or was driver inattention a contributing factor? 
     Open lunch surely was a factor.  The parking dilemma at Westfield High School will continue until common sense prevails.

1 comment:

  1. Since the town's traffic expert - Gordon Meth is on 'retainer', why not take 10 minutes out of his next parking forum time and ask

    - did the town request he put the central ave light in the safest location?

    - does he have any documented study that mid block is safer then the intersection?

    they are basically two simple yes/no questions.