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Plans for Permit Parking At PHS Are Approved By Both Municipalities

Candace Braun

Princeton High School may soon have a parking system in place for students, faculty, and area residents. The plan, which was brought to both the Township and Borough last week, will go into effect beginning September 1, if it receives final approval from both municipalities and the Princeton Regional School Board.

The plan was designed after an ad hoc committee of parents, faculty, and residents researched the parking problems at the high school, which have worsened with the onset of construction. The committee presented its ideas for a parking plan in May and June to the Borough, Township, and School Board. Last week both municipalities reluctantly voted to introduce the ordinance, given the confusion for residents and the hassle for police officers it may cause down the road.

At its July 13 meeting, Borough Council added a sunset clause to the ordinance, which will allow Council to reevaluate it after it has been in place for one year. On July 1, 2005, it will have the option to back out of the plan, or amend it. The Township did not add a sunset clause.

While the Township unanimously introduced the plan, the Borough introduced it with a 4 to 2 vote, with Council members Roger Martindell and Andrew Koontz dissenting.

The parking system calls for the distribution of parking permits to high school students, faculty, and residents in the high school neighborhood. Permits and placards in the Borough will be issued on an annual basis, and can be obtained from the Borough clerk. All of the permits will be valid from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., from September 1 through June 30, except weekends and legal holidays.

There will be no parking restrictions on the designated parking permit roads outside of these times, and the Borough and Township will decide at their own discretion how many permits will be distributed for the roads that fall within each municipality. Violators who park on designated roads without the proper permit or placard are subject to a fine of $50.

Permit Areas

Borough residents who live in residential areas surrounding the high school can receive up to two free residential parking permits to park on the roads outside their homes. These permits will be available for residents living on the west side of Moore Street, the east side of Jefferson Road, the south side of Franklin Avenue, and the south side of Hawthorne Avenue, and are available upon request.

In addition, Borough residents may be issued up to two placards for visitors, for parking on the south side of Houghton Road, between Moore Street and Walnut Lane.

Councilman David Goldfarb said he felt that residents should have to pay for parking on roads in residential areas, as many other areas of parking are metered and not free to residents.

Phyllis Teitelbaum, a resident of Hawthorne Avenue and a member of the ad hoc committee for the past two years, said she felt it was unfair to punish residents who live near the high school, as many are not in favor of a permit parking system, and have already experienced many problems over the years, such as students loitering and littering on their properties between classes and after school.

"We think a fee just isn't appropriate in this situation," she said.

A motion to amend the plan to include a fee for residents failed, as Council was split on the decision.

Student parking in the Borough will be designated for the east side of Walnut Lane, between Houghton Road and the Township boundary, and the south side of Guyot Avenue, between Moore Street and Walnut Lane. The Borough clerk will administer the parking decals to the high school, which will then issue them to students for a fee of $10 each.

The decals will be specific to the students' cars, so that they may not be switched off to other student drivers. All students will be asked to return parking decals at the end of each school year.

The plan will bring approximately 90 parking spaces for high school students, said School Board President Anne Burns.

The high school will be issued special staff and guest parking permits at a cost of $10 each when requested by administration. These permits may be used on the south side of Houghton Road, between Moore Street and Walnut Lane.

The Board will also be permitted to obtain up to seven placards annually for visitors to the Board facilities, which will be distributed by the Borough clerk at a charge of $10 each.

While some Council members had mixed feelings about the ordinance, most agreed that it was better to have some kind of plan in place for parking, rather than none at all. Some residents who attended the meeting voiced a similar concern, but agreed with what the ad hoc committee was trying to do.

"The options that we have are to take this proposal or leave things as they are," said Marty Howard, a resident of Houghton Road. "We have to do something to move forward."

The Borough will hold a public hearing prior to voting on the adoption of the plan at its meeting on Aug. 3. The Township will hold its public hearing on Aug. 16.

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