September 15, 2021

Residents Express Concern to Council About Rosedale Road Crossing

By Anne Levin

The Rosedale Road crosswalk where a pedestrian was struck by a car and died late last month dominated discussion at a meeting of Princeton Council on Monday, September 13.  Several members of the public pleaded for installation of a traffic light at the site, while another argued that lowering the speed limit was the answer.

Council passed several resolutions at the meeting, including three having to do with Princeton’s deer management program. A special award of recognition was given to the Rev. Robert Moore, marking the 40th year since he joined the Coalition for Peace Action as its executive director. A work session was held on the proposed stormwater redevelopment ordinance, particularly relevant considering recent damage from remnants of Hurricane Ida.

Originally scheduled for the meeting, a public hearing on an ordinance establishing a new affordable housing overlay zone along Witherspoon Street was taken off the agenda because noticing had not been completed. Mayor Mark Freda said rescheduling the hearing will be a priority at Council’s next agenda-setting meeting.

After being presented with his award, Moore thanked the local community and the Council for support of various causes including nuclear freeze and ending the Iraq war. “The words and support you all give as local elected officials amplifies our voice to the higher branches of government that are making these decisions,” he said.

Harris Road resident Anita Garoniak questioned Council on a recent leakage from fuel tanks located on the Franklin Street lot. Neighbors noticed the leak of diesel fuel a few days after it happened, she said, and the fire department removed the tank. But other tanks are still at the site, which is close to the curb where Princeton High School students walk on their way to school. “They can be experimenting with smoking,” she said. “It’s a dangerous situation. We are all appalled. We thought those tanks were empty.”

Municipal Administrator Bernie Hvozdovic said the town is aware of the situation and plans are underway to have the tanks removed.

Lisa Serieyssol, chair of the Pedestrian & Bicycle Advisory Committee, spoke during the public comment period about the site on Rosedale Road where 82-year-old Pinghua Xi was struck on August 25 after activating the pedestrian crossing signal. The crosswalk leads to the entrance to Johnson Park Elementary School.

“This is a dangerous intersection,” she said.  “We want a police presence or a crossing guard. I cannot stress enough the importance of the safety of that intersection.”

Resident Tineke Thio agreed. “Traffic deaths are never an accident,” she said. “They are a result. I call on this Council to be different from all the Councils that have come before you, and really put our lives and safety first.”

Mayor Mark Freda stressed that the situation has not been ignored. “A lot of temporary measures are being implemented,” he said. “We are addressing things like the tree canopy. Message boards were put up. We are talking to the county about trying to make improvements there. We have to look not just at the intersection, but at a fair stretch approaching it. We are trying to react.”

Since Rosedale Road is a county road, the town cannot install a traffic light without approval. Municipal Engineer Deanna Stockton said a request has been made.

“There is really only one solution here, and it’s the traffic light,” said Councilwoman Mia Sacks. “It’s out of our reach because it’s a county road. Who at the county should [the public] reach out to?” Freda said the municipality is going to make another effort to convince the county. “Let us try that before asking the public to help,” he said.

Serieyssol said putting a crossing guard in place would be an immediate solution. “Someone should find a way before someone else gets hurt,” she said.

Council’s next regular meeting is September 27 at 7 p.m. The next agenda-setting meeting is September 21 at 11 a.m.