Preserve The Woman’s Club, Open Space and Our Tax Dollars
Dear Mayor DeLuca and the Township Committee,
Please vote against the current plan to change the Maplewood Women’s Clublot (60 Woodland Road) and connect it with the Highland Place parking lot (13Highland Place). The destruction of the Women's Club lot IS NOT worth the 16 inconvenient parking spaces the Township gains.
Here are just some of the reasons we do not support the plan:
•A large, strip-mall style parking lot is not in keeping with the surrounding historic building and neighborhood. The additional paved lot will cover up a beautiful area that attracts people to ourcommunity. The drawings show a space that is jammed in, too big, and turns the aesthetic from historic to suburban strip mall. The fixtures and lack of greenspace are not in keeping with this historic section of town. Additionally, the planclear cuts several old growth trees, including one of the most beautiful cherrytrees in Maplewood.
•The current Women’s Club lot is underutilized. It is rarely half full. If people aren't willing to walk from the closer Women’s Club lot as it is, it is less likely they will want to walk to the secluded lot on the far side of the Women’s Club.Maplewood might need more parking, but it needs to be in a place where people will use it, for example, the lot near the intersection of Lennox and Maplewood Avenue.
•Two of the largest commercial parking draws are in secular decline for parking requirements. Our Bank of America branch – like all bank branchesacross the country – has fewer parking customers each year. With the departure of the Post Office, future demand for parking could be less.
•The impact on traffic flows needs to be considered. The current plan calls for an awkward left turn into the lot from one-way Inwood Place. We believe this will make it more dangerous for pedestrians—particularly the many children who walk this direction to get to Jefferson Elementary and Maplewood Middle schools. The Jefferson School PTA has expressed concern about this potential safety hazard to its students. Additionally, connecting the Women’s Club parking lot to the Highland Place parking lot creates more traffic on both streets.
•The new parking spaces on the west side of the Women’s Club could be amagnet for crime and vandalism. Our understanding is that the new parkingspaces will be secluded. On the Woodland Road side a new berm will block the view. The Women’s Club and Woodland Road slope will block two other sides.We are concerned that the lack of visibility into the new spaces could attract crime and vandalism.
•It's environmentally unsound and requires a full environmental review todetermine the impact of destroying this natural watershed. The Township stated in the meeting that it was not beholden to local or state building codes,and can proceed without approval. This is unacceptable. We need to know who bears the cost of litigation incurred by the polluted groundwater and other repercussions this may cause.
•The site is extremely wet on the West side. This plan will cause expensivedrainage issues. It's not just the small ravine area that gets soaked. The building itself will also be damaged by the constant soaking from runoff above and below grade. Over time, the Township will incur high costs to maintain because of drainage and poor use of the site immediately next to the West side.This will also diminish the potential rental value because the outside space will no longer be an integral part of the space.
•There are more functional, appropriate, and environmentally safealternatives. Nearby towns like Summit, Madison, Millburn have added parking structures near the tracks to accommodate the need for both additional trainaccess and support downtown merchants. It is likely these could be self-supporting and self-funded either as public only or public / private projects. For example, the large lot across from Wells Fargo could be set up as a 3-tier garage with a combination of short-term and long-term spaces. There may also be an opportunity to improve parking on the Dunnell Road side.