With Election Day quickly approaching, one of the main issues in the Fourth Ward is parking around the high school.
As of now, students can park all day on Rahway Avenue along the WHS field, on Dorian Road directly across the street from WHS and on the high school side of Trinity Place. All day parking is also available on Shadowlawn Drive a block away from school. All the other streets in the neighborhood restrict parking with “Two hour parking” signs or “No parking” signs.
Democratic Councilman Tom Bigosinski and Republican challenger Keith Loughlin both agree that parking around WHS is an issue. Bigosinski has said his top priority is the homeowners aroudn the high school when addressing the issue. The issue was highlighted during Monday evening's Council debate, where both along with the mayoral candidates fielded questions on the issue.
“Measures should be taken to ensure the safety of the homeowners and their children in and around the high school area, to protect their property, and to give them some well-deserved peace from the burden of cars frequently coming and going from in front of their homes," he said.
Loughlin's viewpoints tended more towards creating off street parking solutions for students. He said he’d like to look into expanding the front armory parking lot, which is currently used as an extension of the WHS teacher parking lot, and allowing kids to purchase permits for those spots. The town is working with the National Guard to develop a plan to utilize the armory lot for student parking. It had been hoped that the armory plan, partially engineered by Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr., R-Westfield, would be in place by the beginning of this school year. Negotiations with the state have delayed implementation of the plan.
Loughlin also said he’d like to re-engineer the WHS teacher lot to create more spots, similar to what happened in the parking lot behind Panera Bread.
Bigosinski explained that the current street parking regulations around the high school have been designed to provide for a safety of those in the area, including students.
“Parking is limited in the immediate vicinity of the high school to protect students and visitors who are coming onto or leave the high school grounds, he said.
Loughlin said that parking restrictions on streets not only restrict students, but restrict residents and visitors of the residents as well. Also, he said that restrictive parking signs simply push the problem somewhere else onto another street.