By LINDA MOSS
In the wake of an accident that killed a woman taking an evening walk, residents voiced their concerns about local road safety, particularly on Grove Street, as well as other traffic problems to the Township Council on Tuesday night.
Also at its meeting, the council declined to approve four liquor-license renewals, for Tierney’s Tavern, Trumpets Jazz Club & Restaurant as well as two inactive licenses held by developer Dick Grabowsky and New Montclair Entertainment. Tierney’s and Trumpets haven’t received the tax-clearance certificates that they need for their approvals from the state yet. Those liquor-consumption licenses expire June 30. The council approved eight other renewals.
At the meeting, over a half-dozen people addressed the local governing body, with several calling for better lighting on Grove Street following the June 7 death of Mary DeFilippis, who worked at Montclair State University. Pat Kenschaft and her husband, Fred Chichester, both talked about what they consider dangerous, dark stretches on Grove Street.
DeFilippis, 73, sustained fatal injuries while crossing Grove Street at its intersection with Chester Road. Since her death, the township has asked PSE&G to install additional lighting at that site. Kenschaft said she lives on nearby Gordonhurst Avenue three houses in from Grove, and that both she and a neighbor have been involved in car accidents at their corner.
“Both of these accidents were due to a slight rise between us and Chester Road, in the road, which makes it hard for cars to see and cars come much too fast,” she said. “It would help if we could enforce the speed limit, but I think a sign, something like ‘Warning: Dangerous Intersection Ahead,’ or something that indicates to people that this is a worse situation than we normally have on Grove Street.”
But Kenschaft said she is opposed to reducing the current 35 mph speed limit or putting any kind of median in the center of the county road. At the council meeting, Beth Calamia Scheckel and Adriana O’Toole, co-founders of a new group called Vision Montclair, once again complained about the traffic problems that they believe two new redevelopment projects, at Lackawanna Plaza and Seymour Street, will cause along the Bloomfield Avenue corridor.
“I’m representing about 100 of my neighbors and other residents who have given me permission for me to speak for them tonight,” Scheckel said.
Michael Stahl also came to the podium to ask why Orange Road must remain closed in one direction during construction of The MC Hotel on the corner of Bloomfield Avenue and Valley Road. He said that Valley Road between Church Street and Bloomfield Avenue, by the Bloom & Valley apartment complex, is an uneven stretch, and when trucks drive down it, local homes shake. That problem is exacerbated because Orange Road is closed in one direction, forcing trucks and buses to detour onto Valley instead, according to Stahl.
“Right now it seems we ceded a lot of roadway to the developer, probably to make it simpler for them to do their construction … It could be managed by the police instead, allowing at least on weekends buses and trucks to go that way,” Stahl said.