No parking on Cleveland Ave.
Ban part of safety initiative
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.
Cleveland Avenue Improvement Task Force members walk past the on-street parking council voted Monday to eliminate.