No park­ing on Cleve­land Ave.

Ban part of safety ini­tia­tive

Newark Post - - Front Page - By KARIE SIM­MONS ksim­mons@ches­pub.com

Mo­torists are no longer al­lowed to park on Cleve­land Av­enue be­tween North Col­lege Av­enue and North Chapel Street.

On Mon­day, city coun­cil voted 6 to 1 to re­move on-street park­ing in that area, with Coun­cil­man Stu Markham as the op­pos­ing vote. Al­ter­na­tive ac­com­mo­da­tions will be made for hand­i­capped res­i­dents.

Ac­cord­ing to Tom Cole­man, act­ing city man­ager, ap­prox­i­mately 35 parked cars can fit on the south side of Cleve­land Av­enue be­tween North Col­lege Av­enue and North Chapel Street, but not all be­long to res­i­dents who live in the nearby town­houses. He said the street is of­ten used for gen­eral pub­lic park­ing and is a mix of res­i­dents, univer­sity stu­dents who leave their cars there all se­mes­ter in­stead of buy­ing a park­ing pass, stu­dents who com­mute to school and peo­ple who work in Newark.

“We don’t nec­es­sar­ily know which house the car is as­so­ci­ated with or if it is even as­so­ci­ated with a house in that lo­ca­tion,” he said.

Cole­man said elim­i­nat­ing park­ing would al­low for the cre­ation of bike lanes and take away the haz­ard of pedes­tri­ans dart­ing out from be­tween parked cars to jay­walk across the road. He added it would also im­prove the city’s abil­ity to sweep the street and pick up trash and re­cy­cling in that area.

Coun­cil­man Luke Chap­man said res­i­dents who live on Cleve­land Av­enue and park on the street might be un­happy if park­ing is re­stricted, but oth­er­wise he doesn’t see a down­side.

“This is a safety is­sue, not only for bi­cy­clists, but pedes­tri­ans,” he said.

Markham agreed the change could be jar­ring to res­i­dents and sug­gested the city pro­vide those peo­ple with an al­ter­na­tive be­fore tak­ing the spa­ces away.

“Just to say, ‘Your park­ing is gone,’ that seems wrong to me,” he said.

There is some park­ing avail­able be­hind the homes, but the area is a dizzy­ing ar­ray of crudely formed park­ing spots in yards and along a rail­road right-of-way.

With four or five stu­dents packed into each rental home, park­ing is at a pre­mium. Le­gally, each house gets two spa­ces in the back, but stu­dents cram ad­di­tional cars onto CSX prop­erty.

Cole­man told Markham it would be dif­fi­cult for the city to im­prove park­ing be­hind the town­homes be- cause many of the units are owned by dif­fer­ent land­lords and they would all need to sign off on the project. He said it is un­likely a sur­face lot would be agreed upon and com­pleted be­fore stu­dents re­turn for the fall se­mes­ter, but the city is will­ing to cre­ate al­ter­na­tive park­ing for one of the hand­i­capped res­i­dents there.

Coun­cil’s de­ci­sion Mon­day to re­move on-street park­ing was based on a rec­om­men­da­tion made last fall by the Cleve­land Av­enue Im­prove­ment Task Force, an ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee charged with im­prov­ing safety and traf­fic flow on Cleve­land Av­enue.

The com­mit­tee – made up of city staffers, res­i­dents, state trans­porta­tion of­fi­cials and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Cleve­land Av­enue busi­nesses – had been meet­ing since March 2016 to weigh sev­eral meth­ods for im­prov­ing the east-west road, which is one of the most dan­ger­ous in the state. Be­tween 2011 and 2014, there were 358 crashes on the 1.11-mile stretch of road­way, ac­cord­ing to the Delaware De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion.

Coun­cil was set to dis­cuss many of the com­mit­tee’s other rec­om­men­da­tions on Mon­day, but in­stead tabled a vote be­cause they were not prop­erly ad­ver­tised prior to the meet­ing, ac­cord­ing to Deputy City So­lic­i­tor Paul Bilodeau.

The pro­posed changes, which coun­cil will dis­cuss at a later date, in­clude:

• Adding bike lanes along Cleve­land Av­enue be­tween New Lon­don Road and North Col­lege Av­enue

• Build­ing a pedes­trian refuge me­dian at the Wil­bur Street cross­walk

• Adding a “scram­ble phase” at the North Col­lege Av­enue cross­walk, mean­ing that dur­ing a par­tic­u­lar phase of the light cy­cle, all traf­fic would stop and pedes­tri­ans could cross the in­ter­sec­tion in all di­rec­tions

• Mak­ing Mar­garet Street one-way (head­ing away from the in­ter­sec­tion with Pa­per Mill Road, North Chapel Street and Cleve­land Av­enue) and in­stalling a new traf­fic sig­nal at the in­ter­sec­tion of Creek View Drive and Pa­per Mill Road)

• Re­duc­ing a por­tion of Cleve­land Av­enue (from Pa­per Mill Road to Capi­tol Trail) to one lane in each di­rec­tion with a shared cen­ter turn lane

• In­stalling a cross­walk at McKees Lane

The most con­tro­ver­sial rec­om­men­da­tion – cre­at­ing a “Florida T” at the in­ter­sec­tion of Capi­tol Trail and Cleve­land Av­enue, which would limit ac­cess out of Stafford and Lum­brook – is still be­ing stud­ied and will be con­sid­ered separately.

NEWARK POST PHOTO PHOTO BY JOSH SHAN­NON

Cleve­land Av­enue Im­prove­ment Task Force mem­bers walk past the on-street park­ing coun­cil voted Mon­day to elim­i­nate.

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