BY PAUL HUMMEL
This article originally appeared in the Dec. 19, 2016 North edition of Northern Valley Press.
HARRINGTON PARK – In light of numerous complaints from residents about mass congestion along the streets surrounding the Harrington Park School at 191 Harriot Ave. on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., borough officials are planning to take steps this January to alleviate the parking problems on those thoroughfares.
At the Dec. 12 regular agenda council meeting, Mayor Paul Hoelscher said, “In January, I will ask the council to amend the traffic ordinance to limit parking on streets in direct vicinity of the school to no more than two hours, so we don’t have an extended period of time where the roads are blocked.”
Eva Chaleff, who lives on Spring Street, wanted to know the specifics of the traffic ordinance amendment.
“I’m not sure what the ordinance would cover,” she said. “Is it both sides of the street?”
“That’s something we’ll probably have to talk to the [police] chief about,” responded Hoelscher. “We probably could do both sides of the street with a restriction of two hours so this way you wouldn’t get any full-time personnel of the school parking there all day.”
“That’s something I will bring to the attention of the chief and Councilman [Gregory] Evanella as we prepare such an ordinance,” he added.
The mayor explained that the increase in the district’s special education program with a greater number of such sections not only adds more teachers, but more aides are also required for such programs as compared to regular classes in the school.
“As I saw it, seven classes were involved,” the mayor said. “The spaces in that parking lot cannot accommodate all of the teachers and the aides that we have.”
Mary Katherine Smethie, who is a former educator and lives on the corner of Spring Street and Glen Avenue, said she applauds the district for providing education for special needs students, but suggested that the congestion near her home one day may contribute to a tragedy involving residents along those thoroughfares.
“I don’t see other streets in town where the parking is on both sides,’” she said. “If an emergency vehicle like a fire truck needs to come through it’s very tight and congested. Of course, when school is open you have the added traffic when the parents are dropping their children off.”
Smethie said the congestion is so bad that a landscaping truck was not able to drive to her home to plant trees and had to come back after the school was closed.
“Could there be an alternative to the parking situation on Spring Street?” she asked the mayor. “It’s really, really tight and very congested.”
“We will be discussing this and the police committee will be involved in the process as well,” Hoelscher assured her.
The mayor noted that the council is not able by law to introduce an ordinance for first reading in one year and then have its second reading and passage in the following year. The council has only one more meeting scheduled for 2016.
“We’ll get the ordinance done by the third Monday in January and passed in February,” Hoelscher said.