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Reconsider Decision to Pave Driveway to School, Resident Says

Letter to the editor asks for Township Committee to think again about paving gravel driveway between school and town hall.

To the Editor,

We are Homestead Village residents writing in regards to the disastrous rerouting of Ridge buses through Homestead Village that began last spring a never ending discussion of traffic problems. We have attended both BOE and Bernards Township meetings, have asked many questions to only hear the same empty response — we are working on the problem.

We have been patient. But our patience has run out and we are extremely angered that this dangerous situation has continued to go on into the new school year. We feel that we have been misled and strung along as a community for way too long.

We are also increasingly disturbed by the thought that a blackout period instituted on South Finley each morning is a viable option to reduce car traffic. We certainly sympathize with the residents of South Finley who have long put up with traffic, but this solution will only bring more cars to Homestead Village.  South Finley residents are equally angered at the thought of construction to widen the road. It seems as if the only options being considered put Homestead Village and South Finley residents at odds. This is divisive and quite frankly will not benefit any of us. Certainly cars will avoid South Finley at a designated time if a blackout period is instituted but cars will not remain off the road. They will take a different route — though our neighborhood and drop students off at Cedar Hill. These additional cars will add to the bus and car traffic that has increased since last spring and continue to be a danger to our children walking to school as well as waiting for buses.

It has become quite clear to us that this is no longer simply a Homestead Village or South Finley resident’s problem. It is a township problem! So why then is the township not correcting the problem in the way that would please residents, immediately improve the situation as well as follow the recommendation by the traffic consultants hired and paid to investigate the problem?

A recommendation has been to pave the gravel road between the municipal lot and Ridge High School. Initially, when we asked about this option prior to the traffic study, we were told by the township committee that this could not be done because of the possible delays in response time the police would have exiting Collyer Lane. Yet, this problem was clearly given a viable solution by our very own traffic engineer. Pave the gravel road and make it a one way entry point only. Response time is no longer an issue. Problem solved. Right? We thought so but apparently the Township Committee still does not.

The Township Committee still says no to this solution despite also being asked by the BOE to do the very same thing. We are all frustrated by this situation and it is now causing residents to become upset with one another. So rather than point the finger at each other, we think it is time to point the finger at those people who can fix this problem – the Township Committee. We have a direct question and we want an answer. Why do we keep being told that paving the road is off the table? Many residents may not be aware that in 2005 following a traffic study, the township committee unanimously voted to “immediately obtain two roadway easements for an access road connecting Ridge High School, the municipal complex and Collyer Lane.”

All the facts about this approval are available to the public in the township committee minutes. We wonder if residents are aware of this fact. If this was approved in 2005 why can it not be approved in 2012? And in fact, if it has already been approved why must it be approved again? Is there any kind of grandfather clause? We believe as tax paying residents we are entitled to be provided with the facts and answers to our questions.  

So Township Committee, please provide all the residents of Basking Ridge with the reasons that the access road cannot be paved today when it could be in 2005? Is the implication that response time was less important then? Why did the members of the past Township Committee on which John Malay was a member vote to do so and yet you have refused to uphold their approval? Why are you avoiding a solution that could positively bring the township together? We thought the township committee’s responsibility was to be the voice of the community? It certainly does not seem so as exemplified by the handling of this situation.  The community has spoken many times. We want the access road paved so the buses can once again return to Ridge High School where they belong. We want safety returned to our neighborhood. We want our Homestead Village and South Finley friendships to remain.  Township Committee, we urge you to revisit your stance.

Charlie and Jennifer White

Basking Ridge Residents

Parag Dhagat October 04, 2012 at 03:38 PM
dear White, records put you at 286 Alexandria (not HV). TC mistakenly blamed as problem, by pointing inability to confirm road through MC. Follow boe link posted, notice answer to 2005 pre-referendum Q & A http://www1.bernardsboe.com/bernardsboe/cmfiles/docs/schoolboard/ref_qa.pdf, Q: “Why are we paving more fields to let high school seniors drive to school?” BOE factsheet A: Additional parking not for high school students. Existing Ridge parking not enough for future events at new gym/auditorium. New spaces to facilitate 'outside events', offset construction cost (but no profitable events yet! why not?). Parking unavailable offsite nearby; large % of Ridge High parking was to be designated Cedar Hill parking, alleviating persistent HV traffic issues. So who to blame? BOE i think...allowing seniors to drive instead of bus in! 2005 permits/approvals rightfully/sensibly expired/grandfathered out without change. Be greatful/happy! You say, they were 2005 permits... prior to new 2006/7 construction?! New construction adds more pressure on historic setting at MC…especially if BOE grants 'outside events' operation at PAC! Charge driver students' parents $690, bring them fairly at-par with bussers! or get work-id proof! why bother MC/HV/SF/Maple? Cars in college ONLY & Ridge 'ONCAMPUS' CHANGES ONLY. maybe u recently moved to HV, i LIVE on South Finley! $100M BOE bullying $38M TC. Election soon! Liberals clawing! Carefull! No change needed unless LOCAL culture supported!
Karen W. October 05, 2012 at 08:38 PM
@ Parag Dhagat, I know for a fact that the letter's authors DO live in Homestead Village and have for several years-- long enough to experience the before and after of the bus rerouting. They are longtime township residents who obviously care deeply about the safety and overall quality of life in their neighborhood.
Parag Dhagat October 06, 2012 at 01:12 AM
Fair enough Karen W. I understand their & your concerns.... i want the buses back on campus...as you notice from my comments. I think the BOE, by approving millions of dollar worth of parking space has created a major diversion of monies away from studies and KG and whole lot of interesting coursework. Please refer to following link just as an example of what we could have done with all that money (http://newjerseyhills.com/bernardsville_news/news/virtual-academy-offers-educational-diversity-in-bernardsville/article_17a09d26-0839-11e2-90f1-0019bb2963f4.html). Of course the Chatham adult school is a great idea but Facilities has taken a turn which is causing everybody in the neighborhood concerns. South Finley residents have in the past lost their land rights due to expansions in the past and all of us on South Finley are concerned with further eminent domain issues!...so the crux of what i say is for ALL of us to unite and direct our energies to right the wrong done by BOE. Do you agree? But righting the wrong by asking TC to clear a cheap way through the MC opens a can of worms on the traffic circulation patterns/schemes that the TC committees and Police strongly prefer in order to help maintain townwide safety...so i ask Mr/Mrs White to direct their IRE more appropriately to the BOE....but not carry forward the process to constantly badger the TC on this. Come to the BOE meetings on Monday and badger them...come as a group! Do not give that up!
doug wicks May 24, 2013 at 11:51 AM
I still contend that the existing right of way and paved surface that current is available from So Maple ave to the Ridge campus needs further analysis, With modification this right of way could be made into a drive that would accommodate car traffic from S Maple directly to parking lot D without any impact on Findley Ave. The further consideration for use of Findley is stupid as it is overburdened already.

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