Lawrence Township’s 2013 municipal budget was not the only topic addressed by residents during the public participation period of last week’s (Oct. 16) township council meeting.
Council members heard concerns about traffic safety at the Yorkshire Village housing development, as well as yet another request for public comment to be allowed following the township manager’s report at future meetings.
“I think it’s just a matter of time before something terrible happens,” Edith Wolff said as part of the discussion about traffic at Yorkshire Village, which straddles Province Line Road between the Delaware & Raritan Canal and the rear of the Mercer Mall shopping center, near Lawrence Township’s border with West Windsor and Princeton townships.
Wolff and Bill Rodgers both live in the section of the development that sits on the north side of Province Line Road.
They told council that vehicles drive too fast on Province Line Road, making it dangerous for drivers trying to make a left turn out of Port Mercer Road and unsafe for pedestrians seeking to take advantage of the development’s swimming pool located on the other side of Province Line Road.
Acknowledging that Province Line Road is a county-controlled roadway, they urged council members to do whatever they can to pressure Mercer County to make safety improvements to the area. Suggestions included lowering the speed limit on Province Line Road from 40 to 25 mph, installing a four-way stop or lighted pedestrian crosswalk at Province Line Road’s intersection with Port Mercer Road and Canal View Drive, and erecting speed humps along Province Line Road.
Rodgers noted that, back in 2006, the township council helped convince Mercer County to install a guardrail at the corner of Province Line Road and Quakerbridge Road after several separate accidents in which vehicles veered off the roadway and crashed into the backyard of a home there.
The current 40 mph speed limit on Province Line Road is “too high,” with a “lot of cowboys” accelerating to over 50 mph as they head toward the D&R canal from Quakerbridge Road, according to Rodgers, who lives on Vaccaro Road.
“If you can envision coming out of our section, which I call the north side, trying to make a left to head to the Home Depot, for instance. You’ve got a real challenge there, first of all, to try and get out. And then if you can nose out, your view is almost totally blocked to see what’s coming down off the [canal] bridge,” Rodgers said. “Someone’s going to get clocked. And it’s going to be a passenger that going to get smacked up the most.
“In addition to that, pedestrians have a real challenge in the summertime. You’ve got the pool across the street, kids on bikes, people trying to make buses, this thing, that thing. There’s too much traffic there to have a 40 mph speed limit,” he said.
“I certainly believe that the speed limit should be reduced to 25 [mph]. Really, it’s a residential area. I feel it’s important to slow down the traffic there,” said Wolff, who lives on Port Mercer Road.
“Secondly, I feel strongly about either a four-way stop or a light there. I have a teenage son who crosses the street to go to the swimming pool; there are other kids who are crossing there. It’s really not safe. Somebody’s going to get hurt at some point,” she continued. “I’ve had a couple of close calls myself where I just had to sprint across the road to avoid being hit. I think it’s just a matter of time before something terrible happens. So anything you can do to expedite some sort of safety crossing would be great.”
Emails sent to the township by Rodgers and some of his neighbors, expressing their concern about the traffic situation in the Yorkshire Village area, have already been forwarded to Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes and the county’s board of chosen freeholders, Councilman Michael Powers noted during the meeting.
(The discussion about traffic at Yorkshire Village begins at the 9:40 mark of meeting Audio Part 1, which can be found in the media box above.)
Also during the meeting, Pin Oak Drive resident Allen Cohen reiterated the request that a second public participation period be allowed following the township manager’s report at future council meetings to give members of the public an opportunity to give timely commentary and feedback.
Cohen and Pine Knoll Drive resident Amy Davis after Krawczun as part of his manager’s report spoke about additional layoffs and changes in trash collection as two possible ways to balance the municipal budget going into 2013.
At the Sept. 4 council meeting, a heated and rapidly-escalating exchange on the topic erupted between Davis and Councilman Greg Puliti, prompting Township Attorney David Roskos to intercede and suggest that council try allowing such a period of public comment.
But at its Sept. 18 meeting council took no formal action to allow a second public comment period, although at the end of the meeting Township Clerk Kathleen Norcia distributed to council members a packet of information concerning the issue.
With Mayor Kownacki and Councilman Powers absent that night, no action on the matter took place at the Oct. 2 meeting.
Councilman Puliti was absent from last week’s meeting, prompting Kownacki to say that while the matter had not been “dropped” it would not be considered that night. But Kownacki promised to bring up the residents’ request for additional public comment under “old business” at the council’s next meeting on Nov. 8.
(The discussion about public participation begins at the 19:40 mark of meeting Audio Part 1.)
- Oct. 10: “Debate Resumes Over Public Comment at Twp. Council Meetings”
- Sept. 11: “Compromise Being Eyed in Public Participation Debate”
- Aug. 29: “Public Participation Hot Topic at Twp. Council Meetings”
- Aug. 21: “2013 Municipal Budget Discussion Resumes Tonight”