The addition of metered parking spaces at Coryell and North Franklin streets, adjacent to DeAnna’s restaurant, and at Mt. Hope Street, next to Cavallo Park, dominated discussion at the Lambertville Governing Body Meeting on Thursday at the Phillip L. Pittore Justice Center.
The potential metering and repaving of the parking lot at Ely Park was also mentioned, but council indicated that will not be happening this year. Council President Beth Asaro said the city is going to bring in more stones to plug up the issues at the Ely lot, keeping it as a permeable surface, and called it a “band aid” fix that will save the city some money at this time.
- 1) A digital pilot parking program in the municipal lots on Mt. Hope and Coryell streets for six months. No physical meters are to be installed during this time.
- 2) Uniform parking hours: Mayor Fahl mentioned some meters only allow for eight hours, some for 12. This ordinance will make all have the same maximum time.
- 3) Would change the start of metered times on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 9 a.m.
- 4) Utilizing the ParkMobile app to charge parking at a rate of $1.25 per hour (this part has already been approved at a prior meeting).
Fahl said the pilot program through the app would “provide the city with some data that’s real time,” while not having to spend thousands of dollars installing meters. Councilman Wardell Sanders worried about clear signage for drivers; Fahl responded that ParkMobile provides all of the signage at no cost to the city and even a call-in number in case people do not have the app.
The first person from the public to speak was David Haneman, who lives in the vicinity of Coryell and North Franklin, and questioned when the area near DeAnna’s became a municipal lot. Fahl replied that the city paved and striped the area before her tenure (Google Maps strangely has the before and after photos). Many neighbors of Haneman in attendance concurred with his concerns, even refusing to call the space a “lot” and referring to it as “Coryell Street” instead.
“Just because you paved it and put lines on it, doesn’t give you the right to call it a lot,” another resident of Coryell Street said.
A different person from Coryell Street questioned the legality of installing metered parking for revenue, citing a lawsuit that Widener University is bringing against the city of Chester, Pa. That lawsuit, however, involves land that the university owns.
To follow up on this legal claim, the Free Press put in a call to Robert S. Goldsmith of Greenbaum, Rowe, Smith & Davis LLP who said, “I see nothing that would prevent a municipality from imposing reasonable fees to park in a surface facility owned and controlled by the municipality,” observing that the city likely pays to plow snow from the spaces and maintain them.
Ray Aklonis of Perry street asked if the council could start a dialogue with the St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church, who owns a large lot on its property.
Robyn P. Wright of Lanza & Lanza LLP in Flemington spoke on behalf of the First Presbyterian Church of Lambertville, as well as St. John.
“Both churches oppose charging for parking on Sunday morning … the churches I represent were built long before cars were invented,” she said.
Wright noted that the Presbyterian church does not have a lot, and the Catholic church often has parking overflow to the streets from their lot. She continued that the Catholic church hosts an outreach ministry for the poor and a food pantry and the Presbyterian provides a red cross shelter, recreational basketball, free roller skating and teen hang nights.
Fahl thanked Wright and said, “I look forward to ongoing conversations with members of the church and their legal team to figure out ways we can work together, so we can continue to move forward on this ordinance, but make sure it is not overly burdensome particularly to those who are differently abled, the elderly, etc.”
Coryell Street resident Sharon Warren received the lone applause of the evening. “If I’m being told that in order to park on my street, I have to pay, that really bothers me,” she said, even adding up potential annual costs to the average Coryell Street local.
No vote could take place, as this was the first reading of the ordinance. Fahl commended over 70 people in attendance, singling out the church community and the residents of the Coyrell Street vicinity. The ordinance will be discussed again at the July 18 Governing Body Meeting.
In addition to the parking concerns, there was alarming news about the city’s curbside compost program. The city lost its contract with the current compost collection company. Business administrator Alex Torpey secured a short term deal with Waste Management, so the collection on Mondays will remain uninterrupted.
Fahl asked Torpey to detail why the contract was terminated and Torpey said, “In our compost stream, there was a lot of material that can’t be in the compost, some actually that can’t be in the regular trash which included things like bleach containers, broken glass, a coffee pot, metal forks, a bag of ice melt … which ended up seeping into the entire load and contaminating everything.” The city has since posted photos to their Facebook page.
Torpey mentioned this, along with the market for regular recycling, as a “wake up call,” and indicated the city is in conversation with other municipalities and farms and hoped that a permanent solution could be “really local,” mentioning that Princeton borough’s composting initiative had trucks hauling compost all the way to Delaware.
Mayor Fahl specified that the curbside composting program will be a major topic at the July 2 Governing Body Work Session.