The new parking rules in Maplewood Village, which the Maplewood Township Committee unanimously voted to are in effect. However, no tickets will be given until the township changes the parking signs, said Mayor Vic DeLuca on Monday.
One resident who has been strongly opposed to the changes is John Harvey, former owner of Freeman's Fish Market on Maplewood Avenue. Harvey even conducted his own survey on the issue.
In the public comment portion of the December meeting, Harvey questioned the committee about what problem they were trying to solve and whether this proposal would solve it.
"One simple question: why?" Harvey asked. "Is this simply change for change's sake?"
Harvey argued that by eliminating one-hour parking, the village would reduce parking capacity by half. He suggested instead increasing fines for overtime parking violations, and cracking down on merchants who go over the time limit.
"Parking inadequately serves the needs of the community," said Paul Sotrop, of the Maplewood Village Alliance board, at the meeting. Sotrop argued the change would encourage shoppers to make more stops in the Village and help the Village to become more of a shopping "destination."
DeLuca explained that he brought the original proposal to the township committee on behalf of the Maplewood Village Alliance, of which he is the committee liaison. The recommended changes stemmed from the 2012 parking study completed by Maser Consultants.
There have been changes to the composition of businesses in the town, said DeLuca, with more restaurants and shops opening in recent years. He also said the changes were being made to make enforcement easier.
"The decision is being made in a vacuum with some data and very little knowledge about the impact of the changes, and even how success would be defined," said Harvey in a follow up interview with Patch shortly after the meeting. "This is a flaw in the general decision-making on this, and many other issues addressed by the TC."
He took issue with Marlon K. Brownlee's assertion that only people who need the extra parking time would use it. Harvey countered that if people did end up staying for the full two hours it would harm shoppers and merchants who benefit from "grab and go" purchasing.
"This is why I believe (in) a hybrid solution of 70% of the Maplewood Avenue spaces having one hour limits, and the remaining 30% of the spaces having an increased two-hour limit," Harvey said. He also said there would be no objective way to measure the impact of the changes.
Jerry Ryan said he believed there was a need for more longer-term parking and said, "If it doesn't work, we can go back and change it again." Kathy Leventhal agreed, saying she liked the "simplicity" of the changes. India Larrier said, "Why not" try it.
"I (was) surprised by India and Jerry's response to my question of why they (voted yes)," said Harvey. "Their answers...underlie the bigger issues with Maplewood politics."
What do you think, Maplewood? Are you pleased with the longer parking limits on Maplewood Avenue and will you be more likely to shop there as a result? Or do you think it will just make it more difficult to get a spot for a quick visit? Let us know in comments.