By JOHN T. WARD
Not for the first time, Little Silver officials have taken up the question of what to do with a short, narrow roadway that’s a vestige of 19th-century life.
Some residents want it turned into a one-way to address the issue of today’s “humongous” family cars.
Ever-so-charmingly bordered by two homes and the brick wall surrounding the Embury Methodist Church cemetery, 323-foot-long Church Lane links Rumson Road and Church Street. For many locals, it serves as a shortcut to Sickles Farm Market.
But Joan Cichalski, of Church Street thinks it needs to be turned into a one-way. Which way doesn’t matter to her, she said. And trucks should be banned from using the lane, she said.
“You start down that lane, and if somebody else is coming [in the opposite direction], they just don’t know how to react, especially if they’re driving a humongous vehicle, which a lot of people seem to do,” she told the council at its workshop meeting Monday night.
At just 14 feet wide, according to police Captain Gary LaBruno, the road is barely wide enough for a pair of behemoth SUVs to pass one another without their sideview mirrors touching, he told the council.
“When you meet an oncoming vehicle, you hope they understand they’ve to to move over,” said Keith Wells, president of the nonprofit that manages the historic Parker Homestead a block away. Though the two-way traffic inhibits speeding, he favors a one-way solution, and also doesn’t care which way, he said.
William Balkan, of Whitesands Way, said he doesn’t take his SUV down the lane because “it would be suicide. Obviously, the street isn’t wide enough to handle today’s cars.”
LaBruno said the police recommend the lane be made one-way northbound to prevent shoppers leaving Sickels from making a right turn onto Rumson Road and then a tight left into the lane.
The issue came up some years ago when the then-owner of the home at Rumson Road and Church Lane requested the lane be made one-way. But when the other homeowner objected, the proposal was dropped, LaBruno said.
The objector, Cathy Oswandel, who’s lived at the corner of Church Lane and Church Street, still thinks a one-way would be a mistake, she told the council.
With two-way flow, “people are more cautious, generally,” she said, but if it’s made a one-way, “it will become a speedway.”
LaBruno wasn’t so sure about that.
“At 323 feet long, if you put your foot to the floor, you’re not going to get much over 25 miles per hour before you have to brake,” he said.
Other possibilities were discussed: seeking state Department of Transportation approval to post a lower speed limit; installing speed bumps.
The council agreed to send the issue to the borough engineer for recommendations.