The Jefferson Township Council is set to consider two parking ordinances for problematic parts of the township.
Mayor Eric Wilsusen held back-to-back public meetings for residents near the Mason Street Pub and on Nolan’s Point Park Road on Wednesday, October 23.
Residents of both roads are plagued by customers of commercial establishments parking on the narrow streets near their homes.
The Mason Street Pub has been a tavern since before there were zoning laws in the township, Wilsusen pointed out. For years it was a “shot and a beer joint,” he noted, and not often very busy. Subsequent owners brought in crowds, especially during the boat race weekends and other special events on Lake Hopatcong.
Residents are concerned that Mason Street is very narrow; parking on both sides of the street means emergency vehicles can’t get down to the end of the street. They noted there has already been a problem getting an ambulance down at least once.
The pub’s new owner, Bob Mulvihill, attended the meeting with about 25 residents. He noted he has employed valets to park cars and said he agreed some parking restrictions were needed. He also has posted a bouncer in the parking lot to quiet people down who are leaving at closing time, he said.
The ordinance will call for a stop sign on Glenwood Road at Mason Street, which will mean no cars can park for 50 feet beyond the sign, Jefferson Police Traffic Officer Corporal Roger Davis pointed out. In addition, parking from 40 Mason Street down to the dead end will be for residents only.
Residents were concerned about parking for guests they may have, but Wilsusen said residents can obtain as many parking permits as they need.
Township Administrator Debra Milikin said there needs to be a sign indicating Mason Street is not a through street. Wilsusen noted there is a sign for the private road section of Mason Street.
Patrons of the tavern aren’t the only problem, residents pointed out.
Apparently, GPS devices lead drivers to Mason Street for access to the Liffy Island trail, even though access is from a different location in Prospect Point, Wilsusen said. He promised to try to find a solution to that issue.
The township put up No ATV signs, the mayor added, and someone burned off the word No with a lighter. In addition, the large No ATV sign near the bridge was pulled out of the ground and dragged, Police Captain Paul Castimore said.
Wilsusen told residents of Nolan’s Point he wants to memorialize the temporary parking restrictions on Nolan’s Point Park Road past the Windlass.
He told the approximately 20 residents who attended the second parking meeting of the evening they need to coexist with the new businesses created by Camp Six. Residents have been complaining about parking on the narrow road.
“It’s hard to legislate everything and we don’t want to have to enforce everything,” Wilsusen said. He noted there are 35 police officers to cover a more than 42-square-mile township.
The Windlass and Alice’s are popular restaurants, but a good deal of the business on the point is seasonal, he pointed out.
Lisa Palanchi, chief operating officer of Camp Six, attended the meeting and told the residents she has employees bused to the site from Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, Jefferson Day Care and occasionally the Ellen T. Briggs School.
She also said Camp Six purchased and demolished two houses adjacent to Alice’s for additional parking. She said plans for a new parking lot have not been finalized, but it is possible to access the top of the lot from the back of Alice’s.
She also said if another house comes on the market adjacent to the parking lots, she will suggest Camp Six buy it. “The only way to provide parking is to buy property.”
Resident Tim Becza told Palanchi he’s concerned that what she says will happen won’t. He said residents aren’t notified of changes and fear more and more businesses will come in, citing rentals of bicycles and paddle boats.
“More business means more traffic,” he said.
Residents complained of people driving down to the dead end of the road and having trouble turning around. Resident Richard Norris suggested installing a speed bump, but Wilsusen vetoed that idea because inevitably residents would complain about the noise from cars bumping over them.
When residents noted people’s GPS points them to a paper street, Davis said signage can be improved. He said he has received no complaints from Bird Lane residents since the No Through Traffic sign was installed and doesn’t foresee any other complaints.
Wilsusen said the easiest solution is permit parking, just as he proposed for Mason Street.
He pointed out whatever solution the township comes up with can always be tweaked and he can always call another meeting.
Resident Steve Sawicki said he was not going to leave the meeting without a promise. Wilsusen told him the meeting was for information-gathering purposes. He further noted that model parking ordinances exist, and he will ask the township attorney to start working on one.