After a summer of construction at the and parking lots, Westfielders were able to give the new parking arrangement a test drive as schools opened Wednesday, Sept. 5.
Following years of complaints by neighborhood residents who found the high concentration of cars and traffic in the area both inconvenient and unsafe, the Westfield Town Council and Board of Education worked together with the public to arrive at a solution that they believe represents a compromise on all sides.
Changes in and around WHS included the high school lot expansion along Rahway Avenue, which was expected to add 33 new parking spots. Restriping in the parking lot was anticipated to yield 19 new parking spots.
The Edison parking lot expansion added 55 new off-street spots to be utilized during school days and weekends to keep cars off the street during games and other events at .
Fourth Ward Councilman Keith Loughlin, vice chair of the public safety and parking committee, who pledged during his 2009 campaign to improve parking conditions in the neighborhood, said he was pleased with what the streets looked like on the first day of school, though he noted that spring, when many high school juniors get their driver's licenses, will prove to be the true test.
"That is when there's the most intense use but I'm optimistic the changes will bring relief in the spring months," he said.
Loughlin said there were "only minor issues" Wednesday morning but added that as with anything new, "there's a learning curve." He also said there was an increased police presence at WHS and Edison Intermediate to "educate drivers on which streets are now restricted."
Loughlin thanked residents for "bearing with us and for their patience." He added that the public safety committee will continue its partnership with the BOE to monitor the situation to "increase safety and quality of life."
The councilman said Wednesday's smooth transition was a credit to WHS students and principal Peter Renwick, whom Loughlin said did a "great job" of educating students about the new provisions.
Renwick agreed that the first day "went very well."
"Our students were very respectful of this new privilege," stated Renwick in an email to Patch. "My expectation moving forward is that our student drivers be mindful of all safety concerns when driving in the lot and on streets surrounding WHS. I made clear these expectations to the entire student body and trust that our students will continue to respect our neighbors and those with whom they park with each day."
Not all WHS students were certain of where they were allowed to park. Patch spoke with three students who drove to school on the first day and all felt they needed more information about which streets have restrictions and which are open for use.
New parking restrictions on one side of several local streets include Dorian Road., Dorian Court, Shadowlawn, and Nottingham. According to the parking study, taking into account both the new restrictions and the added on- and off-street parking within a seven minute walk from WHS—which excludes the Edison lot—students net 27 parking spaces in the neighborhood. In addition, one side of Edgar Road will be opened for parking. This will add roughly 30 new spots.
The parking plan can be viewed at westfieldnjk12.org under “Important Messages.”