More than a half-dozen residents came before City Council last night to express their dismay or preach patience when it comes to the new parking configuration that came with two-way traffic.
Harry Patel, owner of Beverly Sweet Shop, estimates business is half what is was before now that on-street parking isn’t allowed in front of his Main Street shop, a few doors from East Milton Avenue. Others said the businesses along East Milton Avenue before Fulton Street also have been affected by on-street spaces no longer in front of their stores. James Pekarofski, whose family ran a shoe store on Irving Street for many years, said there was always parking on Irving and Main streets, even when downtown had two-way traffic. He suggested the new parking configuration “may be a subtle way of relocating stores.”
Council President Samson Steinman assured residents that the parking plan is not complete and more may be done, whether adding traffic lights or reducing Stop signs. He stressed that the changes were made for safety reasons, as the average speed on Irving and Main streets was 40 miles per hour. A portion of the approximately 40 parking spaces were actually illegal spots that people came to rely on, he added.
Bob Markey of West Main Street said time will prove the decision to create two-way traffic the smart thing to do, but changing a 75-year-old traffic pattern will not be easy, and could create an economic hardship for some. He suggested eliminated or modifying the turning lanes, which took away almost a dozen spaces near Elizabeth Avenue and West Main, in the same way as on West Grand where they’re active only during peak hours.
There have been some growing pains, said Josh Donovan, a member of the Rahway Center Partnership and Zoning Board of Adjustment, and hopes to bring stakeholders together in the near future to fix problems or suggestion modifications. “Those parking issues will remain if they’re not fixed today, no matter what business comes to town in the future.”
Check out the new poll, above right, to let us know what you think so far of the new traffic patterns and parking.