Village officials announced today that the remedial measures, developed in cooperation with Seton Hall, to mitigate the Seton Hall overflow parking problems appear to have substantially reduced the parking in residential neighborhoods, particularly in the Tuxedo Park neighborhood that had been the most impacted, and expect further improvements as the week continues.
Last week, after the on-campus parking was filled, Seton Hall University began directing students out of the normally closed South Center Street gate directly into the Tuxedo Park neighborhood, including assigning security personnel to direct traffic on the neighborhood streets. The Village had no advance notice of this course of action and had not approved this practice. At the peak last Thursday over 150 cars were counted; causing major congestion on the neighborhood streets and raising serious and immediate public safety concerns.
After learning of these problems, Village officials investigated the situation, made numerous on-site inspections, including uniformed police patrols to enforce existing regulations, and had several meetings with Seton Hall officials and representatives of the Tuxedo Park Neighborhood Association. The Village has asked that Seton Hall discontinue the use of residential neighborhoods for student parking in light of these concerns. Village officials have directed Seton Hall to close the South Center Street gate and immediately cease the direction of overflow parking into Tuxedo Park, as well as to remove all security personnel from the neighborhood. The Village President and Administrator met with Seton Hall to develop short, medium and long term solutions and alternatives to address the overflow parking.
At Monday evening's Board of Trustees meeting, Village President Torpey reported on the steps that the Village was taking, and had worked out in final form earlier that afternoon, with Seton Hall to address the overflow parking and alleviate the problems imposed on residential neighborhoods. For immediate relief, as noted, the Village has disallowed use of the South Center Street gate and prohibited Seton Hall security personnel from directing traffic into the Tuxedo Park neighborhood.
In addition, to help provide immediate relief to the problems in Tuxedo Park, beginning Tuesday morning, the Village temporarily authorized additional Seton Hall student parking on South Orange Avenue and on the eastern side of Ward Place adjacent to the campus. At the Village's request, Seton Hall notified all students of the newly opened parking spaces and has advised students to discontinue the use of Tuxedo Park for parking. The Village continues to work with Seton Hall to identify other possible locations to accommodate the overflow parking, and further reduce the number of students who may use Tuxedo Park for parking.
In the medium term, Seton Hall has committed to developing a temporary parking lot on open lands, as they have done in the past. Seton Hall has also contracted to use an off-site parking lot and operate a shuttle service for employee parking. Together, these two solutions are expected to provide approximately 200 to 250 parking spaces, which is expected to significantly mitigate, if not eliminate, the current overflow. Possible additional off-site parking lots are also being explored.
In the long term, the South Orange Zoning Board of Adjustment recently approved plans for Seton Hall to expand their parking deck, providing increased capacity for many years into the future. The construction of that project is expected to be complete within 12 to 18 months.
Village official discussed with Seton Hall the importance of proactive outreach to neighborhoods and officials in the future before making plans that involve the use of off campus property for University functions. Seton Hall has committed to improved communications and apologized for the lapse in communication and resulting problems in Tuxedo Park caused by the overflow parking.
As of Tuesday, September 10th, at the various peak times of the busiest class day, there were on average only approximately 40-50 Seton Hall identified parked cars spread throughout Tuxedo Park, which officials believe will further decline as the medium term options come online, and represents a significant decline from the previous days.
On Monday night the Board of Trustees unanimously supported the Administration's efforts and expressed its shared commitment to solving these problems. Trustee Sheena Collum, Chair of the Board’s Public Safety Committee, also raised concerns, which the Village President and all trustees concurred with, about heavy two sided parking which may compromise the ability of emergency vehicles to navigate the roadways. The Board unanimously asked the Village President to utilize the emergency powers granted to him under the Village Code to prohibit parking on one side of each street in Tuxedo Park and impose two hour limits on the other sides. Village President Torpey imposed those temporary restrictions effective Tuesday morning. Late Tuesday afternoon, after several site visits, President Torpey observed:
"Fortunately, Seton Hall has honored its commitment to us and the Tuxedo Park residents and is no longer directing overflow students to Tuxedo Park, no longer has the gate open and has none of their personnel are on our streets. Instead, they have informed students of the additional parking options that the Village graciously made available to help them in their time of need, which we’ve observed are being used throughout the day. The use of Tuxedo Park for overflow parking by Seton Hall, without notice to the Village, was totally unacceptable, which the Village has made clear to Seton Hall. I am confident that we can move beyond the initial missteps and move forward in a more collaborative spirit, where we can reach out to each other, as well as to the neighborhood, all as good neighbors working together. It isn’t perfect yet, but we’re getting there."
Village President Torpey thanked the Trustees for their support and strong concern for the problems in the neighborhood, which were voiced by many Tuxedo Park residents who attended Monday's Board of Trustees meeting. Trustees and the Village President thanked the residents for their pro-active involvement and reminded them timely communication was critical to addressing and solving problems such as this as possible. Village President Torpey noted that the temporary restrictions and regulations will remain in place until the problem is satisfactorily addressed, which officials hope to be by the end of this week.
If anyone has any questions they can contact the village administration office at 973 378 7715 x2 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you observe illegal parking please contact the South Orange Police Department non-emergency number at 973 763 3000.Alex Torpey
Township of South Orange Village