South Orange Will Discontinue Ward Place Parking

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After allowing on-street parking on Ward Placer during construction of a parking garage at Seton Hall University last year, the town of South Orange will now discontinue the privilege following the garage’s completion.

The decision was made after a discussion at the September 8, 2014 Board of Trustees meeting.

However, the issue may be taken up by a committee.

Village President Alex Torpey brought the question before the board. Torpey had extended the emergency order allowing parking on the east side of Ward Place, but wanted the board’s feedback on whether the practice should be continued, amended or allowed to expire.

Torpey noted that “there is a revenue impact for us.” He said that Ward Place could work similarly to South Orange Avenue where the Parking Authority leases parking spaces to Seton Hall which then issues permits to students.

Trustee Mark Rosner noted that the town had widened Ward Place to allow parking, but said, “If we open up the parking again it shouldn’t be exclusive for students” and should include residents.

Trustees talked about scenarios for two-hour parking, four-hour parking (allowing for students to be able to attend a full class) or all-day parking.

Trustees Walter Clarke and Sheena Collum questioned why allowing for parking was necessary with the parking deck completed.

Torpey took their point. Although he said he could not speak on behalf of the university, he said, “I don’t think Seton Hall feels this is an absolute necessity.”

Collum in particular felt the conversation was a solution in search of a problem, saying that Ward Place residents had been “very accommodating” about parking during the construction but were now “pretty content” to go back to the no parking rules for Ward Place. Collum said that residents were happy to have visitors to their homes park in their driveways our around the corner.

Collum also noted that Ward Place was more residential than South Orange Avenue.

Finally, she said that her objections to continuing the parking were not based on public safety concerns but on quality of life concerns.

Trustee Deborah Davis Ford was anxious not to make a decision without fully gauging public opinion, “I want to … be assured that whatever decision we make, most of the residents are on the same page. I personally am against all-day parking with the new garage there. I see no need. But maybe some residents would like parking for their guests.” Davis Ford suggested a “conversation” with residents or a survey.

Collum countered, “but to my earlier point I don’t know what problem that we are solving. I haven’t heard that request from residents.” Collum also noted that the widened road and east side access could be used for a bike path once a grant is secured.

Ultimately, the Trustees agreed that the question of parking on Ward Place would be better served by study by a committee such as Transportation which could then make recommendations to the board.

It was also decided that Seton Hall should be given fair notice that the emergency order would be expiring so that it could send a campus-wide alert informing students, faculty and staff that parking would no longer be allowed on Ward Place.

A motion to strike a proposed ordinance allowing parking on Ward Place was made by Rosner and seconded by Trustee Howard Levison. The board voted unanimously to strike the ordinance.

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