January 29, 2020

Princeton Council Hears Task Force Report on Permit Parking

By Anne Levin

Princeton Council heard a report Monday night from the Princeton Permit Parking Task Force, which has been working since May on how to address issues of daytime and overnight parking in different sections of town. Their initial focus has been on the Witherspoon-Jackson and tree street neighborhoods, where parking is especially tight and only some houses have driveways.

Council members Leticia Fraga and David Cohen, along with Mayor Liz Lempert, have been working on the initiative with residents of different neighborhoods and some business owners. Delivering the report, Fraga stressed that it is not a finished recommendation. “We are just sharing what the task force has been discussing so far,” she said. “We will still solicit input from the community before the pilot program is established.”

Residents of the two neighborhoods in question, and other areas of town, offered their opinions during the public comment portion of the meeting. Several live on John Street in the Witherspoon-Jackson section. One woman said she was not aware that a program providing visitor permits already existed. There were questions about how often the parking regulations would be enforced.

Marty Schneiderman, who lives on Murray Place near the tree streets, expressed concerns about snow removal in relation to the pilot program. He also urged the task force to look at what has worked in the past and incorporate that into the final product.

Jack Morrison, who owns Blue Point Grill and Nassau Street Seafood in the area of the tree streets, is president of the Princeton Merchants Association, and serves on the task force, suggested that Council “move cautiously and take our time” when crafting the finished pilot program. “But I’m still encouraged by tonight,” he said, echoing comments from other residents who expressed appreciation for the task force’s efforts.

Former Council member Jenny Crumiller, who lives on Library Place, said she had concerns about adding parking spaces. “I understand there is pressure to add parking and sympathy for those who do not have it. But the downside to adding more parking, filling in all the empty spaces on the streets with cars, is going in the opposite direction of where we really want to go,” she said, referring to promoting sustainability and walkability. Two residents responded and called Crumiller’s comments unfair.

The Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood includes portions of the former Township and Borough, while the tree streets are in the former Borough. “These two neighborhoods are where we get the most complaints about parking,” said Fraga. The priority is meeting residents’ needs first, and businesses second. The task force is reaching out to owners of private lots as possible locations for more spaces, she added.

The pilot program could last between 90 and 120 days. Vigilant Solutions, a company that offers license plate recognition technology, would be utilized. The next steps of the task force are to solicit input from Council, hold meetings in both neighborhoods at dates to be announced, and then return to Council with a concrete plan for a proposed pilot program. Information on the rates and rules for permits will be posted on the municipal website, officials said.