Editor's Note: The Township Committee meets tomorrow to decide whether to move forward with and if so, which is best for Millburn. This open letter was also sent to the Township Committee.
Dear Members of the Township Committee,
At the recent public hearing regarding the Phase I designs for a parking garage on either Lot 2 (Essex and Lackawanna) or Lot 7 (Glen Avenue, Millburn train station) one of the attendees asked, “What is the best solution to reach our goal?” I would ask a somewhat different question, “What is our goal?”
As presented to the architects and engineers in the RFP, it was to assess building a parking garage to address the commuter traffic that is currently handled by the valet parking and, on occasion, by overflow parking in Lot 2. It seems to me that the goal should be to address the need for parking on the part of multiple groups, namely commuters, downtown business owners and employees, and shoppers.
I understand the parking commission is working on finding temporary parking for those who would be displaced during construction. Why not do a comprehensive job and turn at least some, if not all, of these temporary solutions into permanent ones? The solutions include increasing the surface parking at the Short Hills train station, adding more spaces to the recycling yard for business owners, and creating parking where the Rimback building is. Whether we build a garage or not, it surely makes sense to increase and rationalize the downtown parking. One suggestion would be to move the business owners and employees to lots at the edges of downtown, leaving the lots in or near the center of town for short-term shopper parking.
If the decision is made to go ahead with a Phase 2 design for one of the parking garage choices, then I note that a parking garage on Lot 2 would be used by all three populations, whereas Lot 7 would be used solely by commuters, as those wishing to shop in Millburn are unlikely to park on the other side of the tracks from downtown. A garage on Lot 7 addresses only one of the populations.
Finally, a parking garage on Lot 2 will split the commuters, somewhat relieving the rush hour congestion. The traffic on Glen Avenue is already excessive and sometimes dangerous; it would become more so were a garage to be built at the train station as more parking spaces would mean more cars going in and out of the lot.
I am not convinced that Millburn needs a parking garage, however, if the consensus is that we do, then Lot 2 is clearly the right place for it.