Published On: Fri, Jun 21st, 2019

Parking Concerns Dominate Lambertville June Governing Body Meeting

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.

City council then focused on the first reading of ordinance 15-2019 that centered around four major changes to parking in the city:

  • 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.

About the Author

- Steve Chernoski is a writer, film director and teacher who lives in Lambertville. Here's his website: http://stevechernoski.com.

Displaying 4 Comments
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  1. rastalbc@yahoo.com' Mister Brown says:

    Does the city of Lambertville offer any sort of residential parking permits for verified residents to purchase which allows them to avoid being subjected to posted time limits in residential zones? If so, the availability would seem to be a quick (and already existing) solution to the parking concerns which should end the discussion. If not, it should certainly be implemented in conjunction with this rollout and/or any change.

    Of more critical and immediate concern for the city is the perilous and daunting speeding conditions and lack of regard for pedestrian safety by motorists up and down both North and South Main Street as mentioned by Ms. Battaglia below, which has turned the entire stretch of the “Street” into a literal game of human Frogger for all kids, adults, and pets alike who dare attempt to cross.

    While much credit is due to Mayor Fahl for her efforts to address the issue and put/keep it on the front burner with the upcoming meeting on July 8th, it is absolutely egregious that the lack of pedestrian safety on Main Street from end to end has been allowed to reach this point and that the speed limit is so ineptly enforced. I rest easy at night knowing that any expired metered parking in front of the Laundromat and El Tule is so stringently monitored, and that the Wells Fargo parking lot is kept safe on bustling weekend days, but I am astounded and dismayed by the absolute lack of attention to the deadly level of otherwise controllable speeding traffic through the city.

    I certainly hope the systematic ignorance of this public safety issue is quickly remedied before someone is killed (again?). Sadly, I’m not optimistic, and until then, it remains an ugly blemish on the city and its residents.

  2. markfdonlon@verizon.net' Mark Donlon says:

    Mayor Fahl announced that there will be a public meeting about the Route 29 traffic diet on Monday, July 8, 2019 at 7 pm at the Pittore Justice Center. Representatives from NJDOT will be there to announce the steps that will be taken.

  3. I would really love to have a follow up to the “Road Calming Measures” that were proposed under Mayor Dave. One of the reasons I purchased my home on South Main/29 was the promise of *something* being done about the dangerous conditions on our stretch of road, regardless of it’s being a state highway. It’s a topic that seemed to die within the last six months, but the residents are certainly still talking about it.

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