A specially appointed task force comprised of school and township officials held an open forum Monday night to collect public input on suggested ways to relieve morning traffic jams and improve traffic flow on school days at Ridge High School.
"We are going to look at the pros and cons of every option," Deputy Mayor Carolyn Gaziano said.
Speakers at the forum looked unfavorably on plans along South Finley that would further impact homeowners living right near the high school, or would continue sending bus or private vehicle traffic through the Homestead Village to reach the back entrance to the high school.
Since early last year, buses from the high school have been diverted through Homestead Village to the parking lot at Cedar Hill Elementary School.
Grove Road resident Andi Williams again told the task force the situation is dangerous, especially since students and other neighbors walk along narrow streets in the morning. She said that snow could soon cover the sidewalks that do exist, forcing walkers into the street.
Buses traveling down the road toward the high school go fast, she said.
"It's going to take a accident or worse before it changes," Williams said of the bus routing through Homestead Village to Cedar Hill. "Shame on you if you let it happen."
Another Homestead Village resident, Christina Ehret, said that she had spoken against a proposal for a "blackout" period during which only buses could enter the high school because she said that will only drive more private vehicles through the alternate entrance behind Cedar Hill.
She said that many residents would prefer the task force to consider using the municipal complex for at least one entrance into the school property in the morning.
South Finley Avenue resident Bill Connors said residents pay taxes both on the municipal property and the high school. He said having cars enter through the municipal complex would only add traffic to that area for about 15 minutes in the morning.
Another South Finley Avenue resident, Parag Dhagat, said he would oppose a plan along South Finley that would lead to taking further property from immediate neighbors for a supposed solution, such as one option in a report from Dean and Dolan Traffic Engineers issued earlier this year.
Gaziano said afterward the task force would look again at the use of the municipal complex as one of the options.
The next step is for the task force to closely examine, quantify the impact and hash out the finances of all of the options, Gaziano said.
The task force, when created in the fall, initially was expected to bring a recommendation back before the full membership of the Township Committee and the Board of Education at the end of January.
However, that date will be pushed back after delays and other issues caused by Sandy, said the task force members.
Although the task force will not sit down to examine the options, the group is likely to place some ideas before the public before a final recommendation is made to the school board and the governing body, School Board President Susan McGowan said.