Hopewell Borough Council discusses pedestrian and bike safety, considers parking changes

During the meeting of the Hopewell Borough Council on June 9, The Pedestrian, Bicycle and Safety Advisory Committee, or PBSAC, presented a Pedestrian and Bike Safety Action Plan. The focus of the action plan is Broad Street, but the committee plans to survey every street in the Borough and make recommendations. 

“The committee is moving with a sense of urgency given that repaving on Broad Street is happening soon,” said Brad Evans, committee secretary. 

Evans said that the committee wanted to be concrete and transparent about the process the PBSAC used to investigate and offer solutions. He said the committee used a very data-driven approach, and found the police reports eye-opening. Out of sixteen accidents on Broad, ten involved pedestrians and bicyclists. 

The PBSAC recommends addressing speedways with gateways, visually narrowing the roadways, and curb extensions. Evans said none of the ideas in the report were new, and that they were taken from Mercer County and the Department of Transportation recommendations. He said that many of the recommendations for enhancing safety on Broad Street had already been implemented in surrounding communities such as Rocky Hill, Pennington, and Princeton. 

Evans said that looking at the statistics was sobering, indicating that when accidents are predictable they are also preventable. Having safeguards in place reduces the possibility of driver error. Evans pointed out that the plan does not include any speed bumps or any reduction in parking. 

Council member and PBSAC liaison Ryan Kennedy praised the committee for their data-driven approach and the amount of work that they have been able to complete. He said that they had laid the groundwork for change. He encouraged members of the community to reach out to the Council via email or attend the in person meeting on July 5 with feedback. 

Council President Sky Morehouse said, “I congratulate you on your attempt. I consider most drivers distracted. You have all the backing from me.”

Evans responded, “I agree with you about drivers, but there are engineering solutions.” 

Council member David Mackie said that the recommendations that the Council chooses to implement can be integrated into the five-year capital plan. He said that after submitting an application, applying for grants, and taking bids that it can take eighteen months before the actual work begins. The committee set a good framework for the updates that are needed. 

Evans asked that the Council not kick the can when they could take advantage of the repaving project to make some of the changes sooner. 

Morehouse said, “We have limited bonding capacity. It comes down to money every time.” 

Kennedy countered that the Action Plan gives the Council options that range from free to expensive. He said that a curb extension can be an expensive concrete fortress or paint. He said the Council has not gotten over the goal line on the things which they have discretion. 

Council member Samara McAuliffe said, “The Action Plan is super solid. I’m really grateful for the work that the committee has done.” 

Debra Stuhler agreed that the Council was very grateful for the committee’s hard work. 

Mayor Anzano asked that the public provide feedback to the PBSAC through the official email provided. “Talking about it on social media or amongst yourself is not effective public comment. Make comments through the Borough website.” 

Krista Weaver, committee chairperson for the PBSAC asked the Council to read the report in full with an open mind and to reserve judgment until they had read it all the way through. She said the committee would be happy to seek funding and grants for the projects. 

In other business, the Council said that cannabis zoning is now being incorporated into the Master Plan revisions, and the Council hopes to introduce a new ordinance to the public in August. 

Borough resident Susan Pollara questioned if having a cannabis delivery business with vehicles coming and going in the service zone “was in the best interest of a town promoting walkability and traffic safety.” 

Borough resident Shelby Tewell asked whether a storm-damaged culvert near her home was going to be repaired. Michele Hovan, Borough Administrator, responded that the culvert would be repaired, but it might take some time. The Borough is still awaiting FEMA approval, and then the Council will need to create a bond and accept bids. 

Tewell, a member of the planning board, also expressed that she was frustrated with the pace of the Master Plan revisions, and said she was disappointed in how the Hopewell Planning Board Meeting ended. 

The Council also discussed timed parking in Hopewell Borough. Hovan said that while doing an inventory of parking signs to see how many were posted, it turned out that quite a few were missing. Hovan said that while looking at the current parking on each street, that some of the parking ordinances may need to be revised. 

“Is two-hour parking on Railroad and Model Avenue still necessary? It’s worth taking a more global look at what is on the books before placing the signs,” said Hovan. 

Borough resident Pablo Ulpiano addressed the Council about parking concerns on his street, “I live next to the area where Brick Farm Market is. That area doesn’t have any regulation. The thing is, from my perspective, cars are taking up space all day. So many cars are there from 6am to 8pm abusing my public parking.”

Anzano said that the Economic Development Committee and Public Safety Committee should be involved in the decisions about regulating street parking times in the Borough. 

Pollara asked that the Council publish a map ahead of the closures on Broad Street and collaborate with the school district so that bussing is not impacted. 

At the beginning of the public sessions, Borough residents Heidi Wilenuis and Marylou Ferarra questioned why the meeting date had been moved from June 2. Ferrara stated that the meeting should not have been moved, as the President can preside over meetings when the Mayor cannot be present. 

The Council ended their meeting with liaison reports. Mackie said that he had spoken with a geologist and asked for two proposals. He expects to see those soon and be able to sit down and figure out how to fund exploring a new well.

Kennedy said: “Hats off to all of the business owners for getting a map out there and doing a lot of work to get people to come into the businesses in town.” 

Morehouse said that the Memorial Day Parade had been a success, and that a fundraiser was scheduled to get a hydraulic lift gurney for the EMT’s at the Fire Department. 

Anzano reported that the $150,000 he asked for in the State budget for the Old School Baptist Church had been approved.

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