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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Proposal to Digest: Westfield High School Parking & Traffic Safety Meetings Generate Results

     The Westfield Town Council, in a collaborative effort with the Westfield Board of Education, held a "public outreach" meeting Wednesday night to discuss solutions to the ongoing parking issues at and around Westfield High School and recommended related traffic safety measures to ease congestion.
     Three objectives of the joint effort that included recommendations by Westfield's consulting traffic safety engineer Gordon Meth after receiving input from residents are to improve pedestrian and vehicular safety, improve congestion within "the grid," and improve parking.  These three objectives were outlined by Westfield Town Councilwoman JoAnn Neylan.
     There are six major points to achieve the three objectives and they are as follows:
1.  Get buses off Dorian Rd. and onto Rahway Ave.  A recommendation was made to recess the curb line on the Rahway Ave. side of the high school near the school's auditorium to allow the drop off and pickup of students and athletes arriving and departing from the school.
2.  Contact New Jersey Department of Transportation to address timing issues with the South Ave./W. Broad St. traffic light to ease congestion of traffic on Rahway Ave.
3.  Expand the parking lot at Edison Intermediate School to accommodate more vehicles that would normally park along Rahway Ave. at Kehler Stadium for after school athletic activities.
4.  Add additional parking at the high school by constructing a parking lot between Rahway Ave. and the school's auditorium, essentially extending the current parking lot on that side of the school.
5.  Re-stripe the parking lot at the Armory, that is currently in use just off Rahway Ave., to provide up to 18 more parking spaces.
6.  Establish new parking regulations on residential streets including Nottingham, Edgar Rd., Shadowlawn, Dorian Rd., Dorian Pl., and Dorian Ct.

     The Westfield Board of Education will be responsible for the construction of the expanded parking lot at Edison Intermediate School.
     The Town Council will pay for the re-striping of the Armory parking lot and construction of the "bus stops" on Rahway Ave.
     Any new parking spots created on Bd. of Ed. property will be allocated by school administrators.
     The Board of Education will vote on the proposal at a May 15th meeting. 
     The Westfield Town Council will vote on the proposal at the May 22nd  town council meeting.
     School and Town officials are hoping to have the proposal and construction completed by September 1, 2012.
     Westfield residents living on streets to be regulated by any new parking ordinance will need to purchase a parking permit at an estimated cost of $10 if they wish to park in the street during school hours.  One resident pointed out that this was nothing more than an additional tax on top of his current property tax levy.  Councilwoman Neylan explained that the cost arises out of issuing the parking permit along with other logistics involved in the process.
Stoneleigh Park 9:30 pm 4/18/12
     The Honorable Judge William Wertheimer (retired), a Westfield resident in attendance at the meeting raised a question and made statements that garnered applause from many attendees.  He had questioned why Stoneleigh Park was not being considered for use as an alternative to alleviate the parking issue around the high school and to provide "equity" in the disbursement of vehicles parked in neighborhoods during school hours.      
     Councilwoman Neylan explained that Westfield's Fire Chief Dan Kelly had indicated that the width of the one-way roadway around Stoneleigh Park would cause problems for a fire truck getting through if cars were parked on both sides of the roadway to which several people in the audience said "what about parking on one side of the street?"  Wertheimer responded to Neylan stating that "cocktail parties" at any given Stoneleigh Park residence on any night would create a hazard for fire trucks if that were true. 
     Resident's vehicles are parked on Stoneleigh Park each night of the week.  Many residents, in attendance at the meeting, believe it would be fair and equitable to allow parking during the day on Stoneleigh.  To support  the position that parking should be allowed on Stoneleigh Park, TFoTM obtained measurements of Stoneleigh as well as the widths of roadways/streets where parking is currently a nemesis to residents in neighborhoods surrounding WHS.
Dorian Rd. off Rahway Ave (not in front of school)  36 ft. 5in.
Dorian Pl.  35 ft. 6 in.
Nottingham  36 ft. 6 in.
**Each of the above streets has had vehicles from time to time parked on both sides of the street.  Keeping that in mind, a fire truck 11 feet wide (being generous) would have a gap of approximately 21 to 22 feet to pass through between parked vehicles if large SUV's were parked on both sides of each street.
Stoneleigh Park  (three different measurements around the circle)  26 ft 5 in., 26 ft. 11 in., 26 ft. 1 in.

     *The width of a fire truck ranges from 7.5 ft to 9.5 ft. wide.  TFoTM will be generous and put the width of a fire truck at 11 feet wide as previously stated.
     *The width of a Ford Expedition SUV from side mirror to side mirror is approx. 7 ft. 5 in.  Simple math would suggest that the smallest width measurement of 26 ft. 1 in. on Stoneleigh Park, minus the width of a large parked SUV (7'5") on one side of the roadway would leave 18 ft. 8 in. for a 7.5 to 11 ft. wide fire truck to access the roadway in the event of an emergency.

     The fact of the matter is, with regulated parking designated to one side of the street around Stoneleigh Park, it certainly appears that a fire truck could maneuver through the neighborhood in the event of an emergency.


  1. The town council should promote walking, biking, and carpooling to the high school similar to the promotion of the walking school bus at the elementary school grades. The open lunch at the high school doesn't help matters either. All the kids that leave for lunch expect to have a place to park their lunch mobiles.

    1. Kids cannot car pool thanks to the State and their drivers license restriction...only one non family member per car.......

  2. Just a general comment on the reporting/investigating above... This is what makes TFOTM so good at what it does and why I make sure to check it daily for local news in conjunction with Patch and The Westfield Leader (both of which, I think are generally excellent publications as well). The politicians make their statements and we reasonably, so we think, assume those statements to be true. We usually don’t even consider the mere possibility that there could be inaccuracies in what they tell us. But, TFOTM actually goes out and investigates those statements by verifying documents, details, measurements, etc. And, in this case, WITH A TAPE MEASURE! The politicians can certainly now respond (at their official meetings, on Patch/Westfield Leader and even TFOTM- I’m sure they all read it but won’t admit that they do!), with measurements of their own, and that would be helpful for the discussion, but they probably won’t. But, it’s THE DISCUSSION that TFOTM tries to generate that makes it so valuable to our community. I tend to compliment TFOTM a lot, and will continue to do so when it does such research/reporting that helps us regular citizens to better understand the various discussions/debates going on in our community. It’s a great “service” that is being provided to us. Every town should have a TFOTM to "double-check" what the politicians are telling their citizens.

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