by Melissa DeCandia
The BOE and Town Council proposed a new plan to solve the issue of student parking at WHS at the April 18 Town Council meeting.
According to BOE President Mr. Richard Mattessich, "Past Boards have worked hard to provide more parking for students, but we live in a world of limited funds and physical space, so year after year, while solutions were proposed, we have not been able to find a solution that was mutually agreeable to all concerned. The time is now right to make a change."
The plan is a multi-faceted initiative that, through expansion of parking lots and changes to existing on-street parking regulations, attempts to address both parking and traffic-related problems.
The BOE will vote on the proposal May 15, and the Town Council will vote May 22. If passed, construction will begin this summer, in the hope of the plan being officially implemented Sept. 1.
Changes to the WHS lot would include expansion along the Rahway Avenue side of the building, adding 13 spots. Also, a bus pull-out would alleviate congestion and traffic on Dorian Road before and after school, according to the Town Council.
Junior Cassandra Clark said: "On Dorian after school, it gets really crowded.... I think the extra parking spots would help with the traffic situation."
The BOE and Town Council also hope to add 55 new parking spots to the EIS lot, an estimated 7 minute walk from WHS. The hope is that student athletes would be willing to park there before school to minimize traffic on Rahway Avenue after school, according to Second Ward Counsilwoman Ms JoAnn Neylan.
However, junior athlete Emily McBain said, "I would not park there, since a walk from Edison is farther than a walk from my own house."
The Armory lot would also be re-striped during the summer to offer 37 spaces, instead of the existing 19. Whether these spots will be reserved for teachers is Principal Mr. Peter Renwick’s decision.
Renwick said, "It still needs to be determined how we would utilize those additions, but we only see it as an opportunity to help the problem."
On-street parking on Dorian and Nottingham would be restricted to one side of the street next year. However, one side of Edgar Road will be a new option for student parking, adding an estimated 30 spots and limiting congestion on Codding Road, according to the Town Council.
Codding Road Resident Ms. April Krihak said, "I think parking on Edgar Road would be helpful; with Edgar Road being eliminated as a choice, [WHS] students were getting squeezed by the limited number of [spots]."
Additionally, to break up traffic on Rahway, the BOE and Town Council plan to add 10 seconds to the green light on West Broad in the afternoons. The extended time will clear about 7 more cars with each change of the light, allowing an overall 200 more cars through the intersection.
The Town Council said it always welcomes opinions from Westfield residents. "The plan can be modified and adjusted even after it is implemented," said Neylan.
Said senior Kevin Oster, who attended the meeting: "The proposal was a quick fix. It dealt somewhat with traffic but, in my opinion, did almost nothing to address the parking situation [at WHS]. I would actually make new parking, not just reallocate it."
Senior Matt Trinkle, who also attended the meeting, voiced similar concerns. "The school has the right idea with making a new lot and having the armory lot for students but I think having kids park at Edison was a little ridiculous. It would just make the problem areas more problematic."
According to Mattessich, the BOE and Town Council have yet to disclose the cost of the new parking plan, but they said more information would be released following passage of the proposal. Bond money specifically designated toward work on the high school is available for use.