By LINDA MOSS
moss@montclairlocal.news

The Township Police Traffic Bureau has delivered its recommendations for alleviating problems caused by dog-walkers illegally parking on Mount Vernon Road, seeking quick access to Brookdale Park and its canine facility. But residents aren’t happy about the suggestion that parking be limited to one side of their street.

Police Lt. Stephanie Egnezzo, the traffic bureau commander, went through her recommendation list — which includes barring parking on the south side of Mount Vernon — at the Township Council’s conference meeting on Tuesday night. Her report also suggested that there be no parking permitted at the easternmost end of three dead-end roads that are adjacent to Brookdale Park,  not only Mount Vernon but also Chester Road and Gordonhurst Avenue.    

Egnezzo’s other recommendations were that there be no parking from west of Mount Vernon’s dead end to the first driveway on the street’s north side because there’s a fire hydrant there and responders need access to it; and that parking be barred within 4 feet of driveways in the affected streets.

The lieutenant has been working for months with Mount Vernon residents to address their concerns about people speeding down their short street and blocking their driveways when they visit Brookdale’s dog park, accessing it at the end of the dead-end street. Essex County officials are considering modifying the dog park entrance, which could solve some of the issues that Mount Vernon residents have faced. But those possible changes are just pending at this point.

After Egnezzo went through her list, several people who live on Mount Vernon Road told the council they didn’t want parking barred on one side of their street, that such a change would create even more problems for them.

“By and large we’ve been very pleased with the response [from the township],” Rich Boniface said. “The thing that is making people nervous is the no-parking on one side, on the south side of the street.”

The dog-park people are taking up half the parking on the street, according to Boniface, and “it seems like the answer now is to take away the other half of the parking.”

His wife Shana Boniface told the council that limiting parking to one side of Mount Vernon Road would pose a safety threat, because people visiting residents on the street might be forced to park on Grove Street and fight its traffic to get to their destinations on the dead-end street.

“Mount Vernon is a small street,” she said. “There’s no place for overflow parking except on Grove Street.”

“The safety issue is more getting a fire truck down there,” Mayor Robert Jackson told her.

As part of her report, Egnezzo said that she had consulted with the Montclair Fire Department and asked it to evaluate Mount Vernon Road in terms of getting emergency vehicles down the narrow street. Fire officials said they were concerned because when cars are parked on both sides of the street, emergency vehicles don’t have the necessary clearance, according to Egnezzo. Mount Vernon is only 25.9 feet wide, which doesn’t allow the 15-foot clearance that emergency vehicles need if cars are parked at both sides of the street, she said.

Fourth Ward Councilwoman Renée Baskerville asked that the township research state laws that may set requirements regarding parking for streets that are 25 feet wide or narrower.

Third Ward Councilman Sean Spiller told the Mount Vernon residents that if state law mandates that there be parking on only one side of their street, the municipality’s hands will be tied.

“I’m fine with parking on both sides, if that’s legally allowed,” he said. “But if we hear back that you can’t do that, we’re going to vote, I think, to not allow it.”

Residents on Chester and Gordonhurst need to be notified of the police department’s recommendations, added Deputy Mayor William Hurlock.