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Op-Ed: Letter to Township on Parking Deck

Resident to Township: Re-think downtown parking solutions.

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.

Lucinda Mercer

Millburn

mollyb July 09, 2011 at 04:51 PM
Here here! But on second thought, surely we need a concrete box downtown to save our cars from those horrific hailstorms. I'll be laughing at that ridiculous rationalization for MONTHS.
Charles July 09, 2011 at 05:52 PM
But verily, All Is Not Well: bicycles are subject to the hail barrage.
mollyb July 09, 2011 at 08:38 PM
Perhaps we should spend some more money building a special covered alcove for bicycles...at about $115K per spot in the new deck, we wouldn't want bikers to park there. Note: that figure is for the 70 new spaces we gain with a deck...Mr. Levine can keep saying we are gaining 220 spaces but for some odd reason, he keeps including the 150 cars currently parked by the valet into what we are gaining; parking 220 "more" cars would mean 220 more than we currently park...therefore, we are only actually gaining 70 spaces for the low, low price of $8.4 million.
Charles July 09, 2011 at 09:48 PM
Why not distribute car and bicycle covers to all the homes and apartments where owners need to park their cars in the hailstorms? But yes, what Mr. Levine states above is (I suspect unintentionally) misleading in suggesting that we are getting 150 more valet spaces when we are substituting those spaces and gaining a net of only 60-70 new spaces. Interesting disputes BTW are likely regarding the distribution of those new spaces; is there a guarantee that commuters will even be allocated the same number, 150, as currently (allegedly) parked by the valet? What if, for example, the town decides to allocate 100 to commuters, 100 to business permit holders, and 20 to shoppers? Since the low prices and loose requirements for business permits stimulate demand, it might be easier to "fill" those spaces and generate revenue by giving them to the families and friends of business "owners" and "employees." Net result for commuters of course in such a hypothetical is minus 50 spaces (which may be about right given the nose-bleed hikes in fees).
Really People July 21, 2011 at 03:25 AM
Just read about the newly found spaces at recycling center & rimback which is a great find and would seem to nullify the need for a parking deck -- right?? How do we kill the deck? Who do we vote for? Who's not giving us lip service? What's the real status of the deck? Is it just going to phase 2 planning or do these self-servers on the TC really don't give a crap about what the township thinks? Anyone?

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