parking ticket brookdale.jpgIt may be that you’ve been doing it for years. But that — and that fact that everybody else does it — won’t spare you a ticket if you’re parked around the periphery of Brookdale Park on a day the Essex County Sheriff’s Department decides to enforce the rules. This reader found out the hard way about a week ago.

brookdale park map.jpg

Watch out for the Sheriff… Having parked on the lower roadway for the last 12 years while coaching various sports or watching my son’s games all thoughts of fairness have left me. When I parked my car last Friday evening there were numerous cars and busses parked on the lower roadway as the parking lot was filled. After the game let out my car was left alone and the Sheriff showed up. When I asked where I was to park when the lot was filled she replied on the upper roadway. The ticket is made out to the Bloomfield jurisdiction and yet numerous Bloomfield police cars went past without stopping. Is the Sheriff now doing Bloomfield’s dirty work?

Upper roadway? Lower roadway? We’re not sure what that means. Google Maps just refers to East and West Circuit Drives. Tell us where you park when Brookdale’s parking lot is full and if you’ve been ticketed lately. UPDATE: Carl Bergmanson writes in to tell us that East Circuit Drive is the lower roadway and West Circuit Drive is the upper roadway.

43 replies on “Brookdale Park(ing) Warning”

  1. The $64K question is: are there signs prohibiting parking where this offense occurred? If so, then this reader has no legitimate gripe about “fairness”, regardless of how long s/he and other drivers have been parking there illegally. If there are no signs, however, a not guilty plea is in order.
    Speaking of which, the ticket is returnable to Bloomfield Municipal Court because that is the jurisdiction within which the offense occurred, just as with traffic tickets issued by the State Police on the stretch of the Garden State Parkway that passes through Bloomfield. The Essex County Sheriff’s Department has primarily responsibility for patrolling county parks, which is why a sheriff’s officer wrote the ticket. So, it’s not so much a matter of the Sheriff’s Department “doing Bloomfield’s dirty work” but rather BPD avoiding duplication of effort where enforcement is provided by the Sheriff. (That, and the parking prohibition might be enshrined in county ordinance, not municipal, and in that case I don’t even know if municipal police officers have jurisdiction to write tickets, although I would assume they do.)

  2. Living off of Bellevue Avenue, I have to travel through Brookdale Park to get anywhere south of Watchung Avenue. I received a speeding ticket 2 years ago (33mph in a 25), when the Sheriff’s department set up speed traps in the park. Over 20 people with Brookdale Park speeding tickets were in Bloomfield Municipal Court with me, trying to fight the tickets. The parking tickets must be the new flavor of the month, which makes me think that the speed traps are not too far behind. What I want to know is why they are not going after the motorists who are making the illegal U-turn on Bellevue Avenue, to turnaround from the lower roadway to the upper roadway. If you don’t find parking on the lower roadway, you either have to exit the park and re-enter on Grove Street, or make the illegal u-turn. It would make more sense to me to open up the parking on the lower roadway and stop people making the u-turn.

  3. Lower Roadway = East Circuit Drive
    Upper Roadway = West Circuit Drive
    This is a bullsh*t thing that gets done from time-to-time, at least most of the time they’ll tell you to move your car (if you are near enough). It’s just a way to “show the colors” and harass, not serve, the local citizenry.
    Another fine example of why county sheriff departments are of little actual value in a metropolitan state like NJ and should be eliminated.

  4. Carl,
    Are there signs telling people it is a no-parking zone? If yes, then it’s not “bullshit” so much as lax enforcement being corrected.
    If there are not signs, then yes, a bunch of cow-poo indeed.

  5. Hubby tells me that “back in the day” the roadway was in fact circular and therefore those rascally kids could cruise around the park indefinitely. When we moved back and he noticed that it was closed off (with the opening for bikes only) he chuckled. Another teenage rite of passage gone…
    but anyway, that’s why people make the illegal u-turn on Bellevue – too lazy to go up to the light at Grove!

  6. There is ample signage on the side of the street that prohibits parking. If it says “No Parking Anytime” it’s probably not a good idea to park there. If both sides of the roadway have parked vehicle the only place to ride a bike or jog or rollerblade then is in the middle of the road. There is NO reason ever to speed through a park just to use it as a convenient cut through. People do use the park as a park and jog, bike, roller blade and kids are always chasing errant soft balls and other objects that wind up in the road. If you have to use a park roadway to save two minutes because you don’t want to go around, at least drive slowly and at or below the speed limit. If you have to park use the side that’s legal. It’s a park circuit, not a main road. Obey the law and you won’t get a ticket.

  7. The presence of lots of parked cars in Brookdale means that many people are using the park. That seems like a good thing, and it doesn’t seem right to penalize people whose experience has led them to assume that parking is permitted.
    As a bicyclist who often rides laps in Brookdale, I have no complaints about automobile parking, except when people block the entrances or the exits of the bicycle chutes. That drives me crazy.

  8. Dr.,
    What are you riding?
    I did a 59 mile ride on my 57th birthday this past Saturday. I was shooting for 57 miles but couldn’t quite dial it in exactly. I ride Mountain aves, Lloyd, Highland, Fairview. Bradfor, Francisco, Eagle Rock way, Cedar are decent hills.
    I want to get a titanium road bike soon. I wish I was unemployed so I could ride more. Hey, maybe my wish will come true!

  9. If parking isn’t allowed, this county park becomes a park for only those that can walk to it. Maybe that’s the plan, to keep others out.

  10. Wally, of course there’s plenty of parking allowed. There are two large lots and on almost all of the road it’s okay to park on one side.

  11. So Carl, is it still a “bullshi*t thing” when it’s GRPD giving out parking tickets by, say, the train station, the school, or some other venue in town?

  12. Hubby tells me that “back in the day” the roadway was in fact circular
    Anyone know why this was changed? It’s not exactly a “circuit” if you have to exit the park. In particular, the lot by the kiddie playgrounds is not accessible from the Grove St. entrance, so if you come in that way and don’t find a nearby spot on the road you can’t just circle around to try the lot.

  13. Parking is technically not allowed anywhere on either side of “East Circuit Drive”
    In some places, there are signs, in other places there are no signs, but, as was explained to me years ago by a County Policeman (who told me to move my car or get a ticket), parking is not permitted anywhere on the entire circuit – whether there are signs or not (there was no sign anywhere near my car, except on the other side of the roadway.)
    and GNM, it is BS regardless. No parking on the circuit makes sense when the lots are empty. When events are scheduled there that far exceed the capacity of the lots (like today – I’m sure there are dozens of cars parked on the circuit as I write this), it becomes a good example of a time when a Public Safety officer should use their judgement, this officer, (or the boss who told him/her to go out and ticket there), clearly lacks a basic understanding of why (and from whom) they receive a paycheck.
    If the sheriff’s department thinks that this is an appropriate use of the department’s resources (which are derived from our sky-high property taxes), then perhaps it’s time to cut the budget, or get rid of the sheriff’s department.

  14. Jerseygirl,
    You are mistaken – there is no parking allowed on either side of East Circuit Drive (and, except for the stretch on the laft-hand side just before the lot, there are signs posted on both sides.

  15. When you allow people to situationally ignore posted signs, you invite them to break any other rule they find inconvenient.
    Cigar-smoking soccer fans blowing clouds at joggers from the periphery of the track? Sure thing! Little kids slamming on the brakes on their bikes and *trying* to tear up the track surface? Little darlings! Shovel-wielding toddlers flinging the sand out of the broadjump pits? Why not?

  16. Kay (and hubby), I remember those nights well. Some kids would park on the upper roadway and sit on their cars while others would cruise around in circles, over and over, waving every time someone you knew went by. Then you could park and watch other kids ride past you. Or you could option to walk around the park in the road and see who was going by. It was the place to hang out to see and be seen. Or at least to try to be seen as cool. This was the mid-late 70s. Who said cruisin’ died in ’62?
    Truth be told though, it wasn’t any more socializing than you did in high school except you wasted a lot of gas. When they finally sealed up the circle I thought it was a very clever solution to teen loitering, though I’m sure the next generation felt gypped.

  17. Git2itgal,
    Police Officers are expected to use their judgment all the time – it’s part of the job. All of the situations you describe would clearly call for action on the part of any officials responsible for enforcement of the rules in question, assuming, of course, that there is not something else more pressing.

  18. Pork Roll, Do you really not see the difference?
    No, I don’t. “NO PARKING” means: No Parking!
    I suspect your position on this is informed by your bias against any county government and your well-known position that all county government functions should be devolved to municipalities and county government abolished.
    However, I don’t see this particular issue as a litmus test for advocating one way or another. Your criticism of the sheriff’s officer for enforcing the law seems akin to the classic “shooting the messenger”. Indeed, the way you express it above is a take on the old “you’re a public servant and I pay your taxes, so how dare you ticket me, don’t you have more important things to do?” riff. There certainly is no dearth of crime in Essex county, yet it seems to me that if one objects to the enforcement of parking regulations in the park, one should petition Joey D and the Freeholders (hey, as Dave Barry would write, that would be a great name for a rock band!) to relax the regulations.

  19. Pork,
    No, this is not related to my “position” on County Government (which, BTW, you have mis-stated), and I would agree with you that “…I don’t see this particular issue as a litmus test for advocating one way or another.”
    I would feel the same way if we were talking about any police officer – judgment is part of the job. A well-trained police officer understands this, a poorly-trained or incompetent police officer does not.
    Do you think the GRPD should have ticketed those cars illegally parked overnight on September 12, 2001 because their owners were still in the city?

  20. Right on, jerseygurl–I am so with you on the speeding-in-Brookdale thing.
    da6186, it’s kind of amazing that you admit regularly cutting through the park to save time, and to speeding, and then actually have the gall to complain that you got ticketed?? I wish the cops would set speed traps there *every day*.
    It’s bad enough that 95% of the population of this area won’t stop at other pedestrian crosswalks per state law, but it’s SOOO much worse when people come ripping through the park and won’t even stop at the crosswalk there. Even if there’s someone trying to run through it. Or someone walking a dog, or pushing a baby carriage.
    I mean, really… if pedestrians can’t have the right of way in the park, where *can* they have it?
    da6186, I’m fairly sure your time is not so valuable that you can’t take the extra 2 minutes to go around the park, or at least drive the speed limit through it.

  21. 22 comments so far on parking in the Brookdale Park area, and even more than that about the Montclair Book Center.
    One comment to date on the arrest of a street-level heroin dealer. Surely I’m not the only one concerned about the balance here? I also hope that the lack of response to the arrest of the dealer isn’t simply because people who can be roused to such frothing over parking are jaded when it comes to the contemplation of drug dealing upon their lives and their community.

  22. Carl, there is no comparison, and you know that. I don’t know what prompted the ticketing initiative in Brookdale Park, but if people have been habitually and blatantly ignoring the parking prohibitions, then they should get tickets. Discretion in extraordinary situations is one thing, ignoring habitual scofflaws is another. Perhaps a more appropriate question would be, why is parking prohibited along those parts of the park road? Is there a legitimate public safety reason behind it? If not, the regulations should be changed, not simply ignored.
    If I have mis-stated your position, then my apology. However, you have seemed to make it quite clear that you have no use for county government for pretty much any function.
    Cather, I have posted on the heroin arrest; I hope that satiates in some small measure your desire for balance here. Perhaps we are indeed jaded (drug dealing is just a fact of life, is it not?), or perhaps most of us are in agreement that drug dealers should be arrested and prosecuted. There is probably more consensus on the response to drug dealers than to parking scofflaws in Brookdale Park, or whether the Montclair Book Center is worth going to, so perhaps why that is why there is more frothing over the seemingly trivial posts than the one that truly pertains to the quality of life here in Baristaville.

  23. Of course I know that there is no comparison – I’m the one who is advocating the use of judgment – it was you who said:
    “NO PARKING” means: No Parking!
    thus implying that there is no place for judgment in parking enforcement
    I don’t know if you spend a lot of time in Brookdale, over the years, I have spent quite a bit of time there. They way it normally works is that people don’t park on the lower roadway except when the lower lot is full. This works well most of the time.
    In a perfect world, the Bloomfield Council (or the Board of Freeholders – I’m not sure who has jurisdiction) would figure out how to codify that and put it on a sign, but that’s not as easy as it sounds, and we don’t live in a perfect world.
    As it is, the status quo works as long as people on all sides use some common sense, but, from time-to-time, for whatever reason, someone at the county level decides to be a hard-ass and starts writing out parking tickets. As if to further illustrate their lack of common sense, they probably are writing out those tickets while speeders whiz by him/her at 40mph.

  24. Now with regard to County Government in NJ:
    While it is true that I would like to see things drastically reduced at the county level generally, I think that parks are one of the things that can work well at the county level in Essex. I also believe that our county park system would probably work much better if the influence of the county machine were removed.
    And as far as things “devolving” down to the munis, not necessarily. Many functions that the counties currently handle make more sense at the state level. The Prosecutor’s office is already basically run by the state, we just get to pay for it. The County Jails. The major county roadways (5xx – Bloomfield Avenue, Belleville Avenue, etc.). The Register’s office and much of the County Clerk’s office and the Board of Elections.
    Other functions should just be eliminated – the Board of Freeholders for example – and yes, some should be dealt with by the munis.

  25. Carl,
    You know that the Bloomfield Town Council has no jurisdiction – take it up with the Joe D and the Board of Freeholders (do-wop wop).
    People can also park on the streets surrounding the park even though home-owners on those streets will object and tell you to move your car.

  26. Hiding,
    I don’t know that. If I knew that, I wouldn’t have written this:
    the Bloomfield Council (or the Board of Freeholders – I’m not sure who has jurisdiction)
    It has been my experience that there is all kinds of overlap, for example, I know that the munis control parking on County Roads. It’s possible that the rules are different in County Parks – obviously it never came up in GR.
    Anyway, it’s a moot point, I’m not advocating a change in ordinance, I’m advocating some common-sense in enforcement, and the next time I see Sheriff Fontoura (who, BTW, I think does a pretty good job overall), hopefully I’ll get a chance to speak to him about it.

  27. Ironically, back in ‘the day’, early 70’s, a great place to ‘cop’ was over by the ‘rock wall’ on the southwest side of the park, where all the hippies hung out. There was no heroin or cocaine being sold but you could get anything else over there, weed, hash, opiated hash, shrooms, LSD, Mescaline, White Crossroads, Qualudes, Codeine… Freaks would gather over there and take spontaneous road trips, plan parties, jam on their acoustic guitars, drink beer. I used to bring my Martin guitar and a case of beer over there on a Saturday afternoon and was instantly and joyfully welcomed by the local denizens – nothing like ice cold Budweiser to ensure popularity and free weed.
    If I could get in a time machine and revisit a portion of my life, this time would definately be very high on the list.
    Oh, and the hippie chicks…

  28. GreyPoupon and Mellon…
    Yes…hubby gets a sort of smushy, nostalgic look in his eye when he recalls those days.
    I myself remember riding in the back of my friend’s sister’s car, and cruising “The Blvd.” (this was in So. Cal.), though when I returned for a visit a few years later they had posted those signs that say something like, if if you pass this sign more than twice then you will get a ticket for cruising. I didn’t know driving up and down a road was illegal. Whatever! So instead we hung out at the beach. Or the mall (yippee).
    I do agree probably closed the circuit at Brookdale in an attempt to prevent loitering and other associated mischief (ahem, Mellon…) Though they could have done that with one of those “county parks close at 9:00 pm” rules instead.
    The problem in my view is, whereas ‘back in the day’ our loitering was somewhat mellow compared to the way it seems now. Like Mellon described, we got together and chilled. Now, kids get together and end up with some sort of arguing or mayhem. My un-expert opinion, of course.

  29. MB – I may have seen you there! There was one summer I drove an ice cream truck (my friend and I were the only females ice cream truck vendors in NJ at the time) and we would take pick up some friends after work in the evenings and go to the park where we’d eat some of our profits. Fun. Before someone suggests we were stealing – we rented the truck for the entire summer and bought the ice cream ourselves so we were self employed.
    And Carl, I stand corrected. You are right, only most of the West Circuit allows parking. That’s still one half of the road and there are still two lots. When I lived closer to the park I went there regularly for 13 years and never had a problem figuring out where the legal parking spots were located. Most of the time there is ample parking, but people tend to be lazy and would rather park right next to the field they are using instead of parking in a lot and walking the two minutes it would take to get to the field.

  30. Good Humor! I used to know a gal named Andrea who drove a Good Humor truck back then. Her route was in Irvington – if you can believe that!
    It was a much more mellow time back then. The cops wouldn’t bother you unless you were making too much noise. Open container laws didn’t exist yet. ‘Fragile’ was blowing everyone’s minds. The worst STD you could get was ‘The Clap’ or lice. Good times..

  31. .. and here I sit listening to Porcupine Tree’s new CD ‘The Incident’. What an amazing band! I love working from home ..

  32. It was a Hood truck, MB. The best permit we could get was for Elmwood Park and we did really well. Yes, the cops left us alone, but we weren’t really doing much other than talking and strumming acoustic guitars (we won’t mention the weed and acid).

  33. JG,
    As has been covered by others here, ever since they cut the loop at both ends (which, BTW, I opposed at the time, and still oppose now), it is not easy to legally get from lower to upper, or v/v, so the availability of parking on the upper roadway or lot is of little use if you are on the lower.
    I agree that most of the time there is adequate parking, and I would also agree that if there is space in the lower lot, and you park on the lower roadway where the signs say “no parking”, the ticket is well-deserved, but that is not the situation that was described in this case:
    …Friday evening there were numerous cars and busses parked on the lower roadway as the parking lot was filled.

  34. If it’s towards the end of the month, you always need to mind your parking Ps & Qs. Whether it’s Brookdale Park, Montclair Center, etc etc – that’s when the heaviest ticket writing time is.
    It’s always been that way.

  35. As the wife of a Brookdale Park cyclist, I applaud the enforcement of the parking regulations. There are signs that prohibit parking on the lower circuit, but park visitors ignore them. This makes it very dangerous for cyclists. My husband has come home numerous times complaining about cars pulling out in front of him without looking, car doors opening in front of him and cars blocking the bike chute. Instead, the road should have a designated bike lane around the inside perimeter which would keep cars from parking there and keep the cyclists safe.

  36. aprilp,
    I don’t cycle in Brookdale anymore. It’s not as safe as I’d prefer. The local Montclair roads are much safer and more picturesque.
    With colder weather approaching, I may start to include Brookdale on my cycling route.

  37. speed traps in the park are fine with me – There is no need to speed through there – Yes, you might be only 3 mph over the limit, but who says you should drive right at the limit. Kids are running around and 30mph even might be too fast to slow down.

  38. Real,
    Very true. Many folks drive way to fast around here. I get tailgated all the time because I drive at or sometimes below the limit, especially on neighborhood streets.
    Personally, I think it’s disrespectful to speed down a neighborhood street, especially with a car stereo blaring.
    I’d rather irritate the person behind me than risk hitting a kid or a pet, or even a pigeon or squirrel for that matter.
    Once a kid ran out into the street in front of me @ Watchung Plaza. I was going my typical 10 mph through that intersection and was able to stop in plenty of time. I’ll never forget the look on mommy’s face, the horror, relief, then anger at the wee one all within about 2 seconds. That was pretty intense.

  39. Great idea about a bike lane in the park. It might keep cars from blocking the chutes. I remember the days before they sealed off the loop, they would have bicycle races around the circuit…..Go Lance, take it to the max with The Shack!

  40. Don’t park in the park! Park on one of the many side streets that surround the park, especially if you’re going to the east side to the soccer fields or the track. I use Parkview Drive, which is the street right across from the lower parking lot. There is also Overlook Terrace and Newell Drive. Each has a path that leads right into the park, there are always plenty of parking spaces even on the most crowded days, and you don’t have to drive all the way around the park when you want to get out.
    There are also many side streets off of Grove St that have paths into the park and plenty of parking.
    I agree that a bike lane would be a great idea. I’m not a regular rider in the park, but there are so many bike riders and so many bad drivers that anything to keep folks safe would be welcomed. Also, bigger signs for the pedestrian crosswalks so people actually stop.
    I’d also like to see the curbs moved to allow for one large lap like it used to be. It’s annoying, most folks still make the illegal U-turn to get back into the park anyway, and I don’t think today’s generation would find cruising the park as exciting as they did in the 70’s and 80’s.

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