Photo by Ron Leir/ From l. to r. Councilman Joseph Bianchi, Public Works Supt. James McCebe, and Borough Administrator Terrence Wall awaiting new meters at Belleville Tpke. parking lot.
By Ron Leir
Time heals all wounds, they say.
And so it may be with disgruntled drivers looking for time-gauged places to park, now that the Borough of North Arlington is moving to install meters in spaces previously reserved for permitholders only.
That’s what’s happening in at least two of the borough’s municipal parking lots, one being the Belleville Turnpike lot, just west of Ridge Road, where according to Councilman Joseph Bianchi, public works chairman, the lot will be restriped and 19 meters will be installed.
“Years ago – at least 20 – this lot was metered,” Bianchi said, “but that was changed to permit parking at the request of the business owners in the area.”
But now the tables are turning.
Residents like former Ridge Road retailer Marie Elaine Yaccarino applauded the borough’s move at the March 8 meeting of the governing body.
“This is something I’ve been advocating for a long time,” Yaccarino said, afterwards, to a reporter. Having meters in the lot, “will at least allow customers to have the option of parking somewhere,” she said.
Additionally, the municipal lot on Ridge Road off Harding Ave. is also to be metered, with 22 slated for that site.
Mayor Peter Massa said the metered parking venture is being done “to accommodate the people in the south end of town, to help the merchants who are in competition with the Kearny UEZ (Urban Enterprise Zone).”
Actually, Bianchi said, the metering of the Belleville Pike lot should end up benefiting shopkeepers and business people on both sides of the North Arlington/Kearny border, especially the medical office directly across from the lot where patients “are generally there for a couple of hours.”
The meters will have a twohour limit, he said.
“This will help them – and other businesses on Ridge Road – immensely because there’s generally no place to park,” he added. “This will help residents, shoppers or even people going to the Lincoln (Cinemas) movies.”
One space in the Belleville Pike lot and two spaces in the Ridge Road lot will be reserved for handicapped drivers and those motorists who hold parking permits will be permitted to park in a metered spot so long as they display their permit placards, Bianchi said.
Assuming the ordinance intended to clear the way for the metered lots that the Borough Council voted to introduce on March 8 passes a second reading at a public hearing on March 22, Bianchi is hopeful that the transition can happen within a month or so.
It can’t be too soon for merchants like Sanjay Mehta, who owns Papers Plus at the corner of Belleville Pike and Ridge Road. “I’ve been losing so much business,” Mehta told a reporter last week. “I’ve been fighting with the town eight months over this. The sign (in the Belleville Pike lot) says (permit) parking from 7 to 9 (a.m.) but I open at 6 (a.m.). If somebody parks (between 6 and 7) to buy something here and gets a ticket, he’s not coming back.”
“Look at the parking lot now,” Mehta told a visitor. “It’s empty because people are afraid to park there.”
“The town is hurting town businesses,” he said.
But when asked about the prospect of replacing permit parking with meters, Mehta seemed relieved. “Meters will help the customers,” he said. “People will be happy. And at least I will be given a chance to stay in business. I work here 15, 16 hours every day, seven days a week. I want just a little chance for enjoyment, to help me and my family, and a lot of the businesses here.”
Mike Romano, who runs the nearby First Lady Salon on Ridge Road, agreed that meters should be creating additional parking opportunities, especially if there’s a two-hour limit. “That should keep the cars moving (in and out),” he said.
At El Cubanito’s café, also on Ridge Road, a visitor heard similar supportive comments from workers. “Our customers are telling us there is no parking,” one employee said. “And,” a co-worker reminded her, “mucho complaints about tickets.”
Over at the Silver Bell tavern on the Belleville Pike, owner Bob Melillo said: “Anything will help us – there’s no parking now.” To this, one of the regulars chimed in that he’d recently been stung with having to pay a $55 ticket for parking improperly in a permit-only spot.
Borough Administrator Terrence Wall said it’s estimated that each meter head will cost about $150 and each meter pole, where needed, will run $30. Total cost of equipping the two lots is pegged at about $3,000, he said. “Permit revenue will help offset the cost,” he said.
Figuring in the already existing meters at the Melray’s parking garage lot, residents and commuters driving in the south end of town will have access to a total of 68 metered lot spaces. Beyond that, the borough will be making available 25 parking permits, each offered for $300 per year, for the three south end lots. Permit holders can park in metered spaces. Parking enforcement hours are likely to be consistent with existing curbside meter hours.
In other N. Arlington developments:
• Councilman Steve Tanelli said that state lawmakers are pressing to have the North Arlington/ Belleville Bridge named for North Arlington’s fallen Marine Lance Cpl. Osbrany Montes De Oca. “It’s a done deal,” he said.
• Restaurants and deli’s serving hot food will be expected to regularly monitor their grease traps now that the Board of Health has passed a new ordinance regulating the operation of those devices to counteract “a lot of sewer backups” that, according to Bianchi, have resulted from improperly maintained traps. Failure to do so can subject the owner to penalties of $250 a day for a first offense, leading up to a maximum of $1,000 a day for multiple infractions.
• North Arlington and Lyndhurst will be looking at possible future “shared services” for police department functions under a joint county-financed study for which Lyndhurst will be taking the lead. A separate survey is being done in the area of public works.