Most weekdays during the school year, parking gets pretty tight along East Bergen Place between Broad and South streets.
The return of autumn means that Broad Street Post Office employees who find refuge for their cars at the Red Bank Middle School during the summer are forced to go on the hunt again.
And that means competing with car-loving, space-hungry seniors from Red Bank Catholic High School for precious spots. In recent months, East Bergen has been the answer for a number of motorists.
Well, next month, the pickins’ may get significantly slimmer. A proposed ordinance up for adoption by the Borough Council Monday night would put the entirety of East Bergen Place, from Maple Avenue to Branch Avenue, off-limits to everyone but residents.
The change is welcome by East Bergen residents Tim Zebo and Kathy Fitzgerald. But postal employees, already without a workplace parking lot, will now have to wander even farther in search of spaces.
News of the plan caught Postmaster Scott Rosenberg completely off guard.
“This is the first I’m hearing about it,” Rosenberg told redbankgreen this morning. “You’re talking more permits that ain’t promising at all.”
Because the post office lot is used by Postal Service trucks, employees are “completely on their own” when it comes to parking during their shifts, Rosenberg says with a tinge of regret. At any given hour, he says, there are 80 to 85 employees on duty.
The permitting was requested by Zebo and seven other homeowners who live on East Bergen between Broad Street and Hudson Avenue.
“We normally don’t park on the street,” Zebo says. “But people park like two inches from the driveway on both sides, so it’s very difficult to get in and out.”
“They’re parking bumper-to-bumper here,” says Fitzgerald, who lives two doors from Zebo. “People can’t pull out safely.”
Both Zebo and Fitzgerald expressed empathy for postal employees, who’ve been pushed further and further from their workplace by the institution of permits along Hudson Avenue, South Street and Brown Place.
In addition, about 18 months ago, the Wachovia Bank branch at the corner of Broad and East Bergen began asking postal workers not to use its large, usually vacant lot at the foot of Hudson.
In response to the request, Zebo says, Parking Director Gary Watson sent out a survey to area residents and decided to recommend permitting for the entire street.
Mayor Pasquale Menna says the decision to include all of East Bergen in the permit zone was made to halt “piecemeal” fixes. Allowing prolonged parking on East Bergen between South and Branch would only transfer the problem to that block he says.
Which leaves postal employees to prowl farther afield come early September.
Rosenberg says Menna has been helpful, but no real fix for the problem has yet been found.
“I don’t know what the solution is,” he says.
Menna tells redbankgreen that he’s talking to Verizon, which has its DSL switching station on Broad Street a few doors south of the Post Office, about allowing the postal workers to use the company’s parking lot. Menna says the lot is underutilized because of employment shrinkage at the facility, and would “go a long way” toward alleviating the shortage.
But he says the Postal Service and Red Bank Catholic should both be trying harder.
The Postal Service, he says, “should make arrangements to encourage trip reduction and carpooling,” he says. And RBC, Menna says, should have included a parking garage in its recently approved plans for a new student center.
“But they didn’t do it, and we can’t force them to do it,” he says.