Residents speak out: trash, traffic, parking

Photo by Daniel Jackovino
At Franklin Elementary School, Township Administrator Matt Watkins, in suit, responds to the concerns of two residents. Seat at left is Mike Sceurman, the recreation department director. Seated at right is 1st Ward Councilwoman Jen Mundell.

BLOOMFIELD, NJ — Councilwoman Jen Mundell presented a community meeting for her 1st Ward constituents on Monday, Feb. 3. The one-hour meeting attracted about 20 people to the Franklin Elementary School library.

Representative from the Bloomfield Police Department, Department of Health, the Bloomfield Public Library, Department of Information Technology, Department of Recreation, as well as Township Administrator Matt Watkins, were at a table facing an audience which included. Mayor Michael Venezia and Fire Chief Lou Venezia. Each of the departmental representatives in turn explained to residents what they did and what they could offer them.
Watkins was the last to speak. He wanted to know what was on people’s minds.

“People come up to me and say, ‘I don’t want to bother you,’” he said. “But it’s no bother. We’re trying to think of the best way to service our residents and to know if we’re on the right track.”

One woman said that although she understands kids will be kids, she wanted Memorial Park cleaned of the refuse left by them. Watkins said township employees would get to it the next day.

Another woman complained about an abandoned house on Williamson Avenue. A man seated beside her, possibly her spouse, complained that Williamson was becoming a highway with cars speeding down it. And complaints about the abandoned house, he said, went to Town Hall for a year and what happened? Nothing. He asked with a chuckle if when his property is appraised again is the town going to take under consideration the abandoned house next to his? The woman beside him spoke up again.

Williamson Avenue, she said, was a straight line from Montgomery Street to the Parkway North entrance on Belleville Avenue. She gestured with her hand to show that it was as straight as an arrow.
Watkins told the couple that dealing with abandoned property was difficult. The woman said she understood it was owned by a bank.
“Banks try to avoid us,” Watkins said. “And not just in Bloomfield.”

The police representatives said they would have an officer with a speed sign sent to Williamson Avenue. The man said that was tried before. The officer came in the morning and was gone by 4 p.m. when the speeders returned.

Another woman had another traffic problem. She complained that making a left-hand turn onto Spruce Street, from Belleville Avenue, was very difficult. On a good traffic day, she said it takes her five changes of the traffic light to make the turn; on a bad day, 10 changes of the light. Sometimes, she said, she avoids the intersection altogether. The police representatives said that Belleville Avenue was a county road, but they would look into the matter the next day.

Another man asked Watkins if there will be a townwide traffic study. Watkins said that would be financially impossible, that traffic problems had to be analysed on an area-by-area basic. The man then said some streets were too narrow for two-way traffic plus parking. Watkins said there really was not much that could be done about that without affecting the neighbors.

The police representative wanted to know the area of the problem. The man said it was all around them. This got an good laugh from the audience.