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4 Issues With Fair Lawn Commuter Parking Changes

Dozens of Fair Lawn residents attended a meeting about the changes Tuesday. Officials said they may make additional changes after hearing residents' concerns.

Parking signs at the Radburn Station. File photo.
Parking signs at the Radburn Station. File photo.
A change in parking fees and permitting at commuter parking lots in Fair Lawn, which would increase the cost by several hundred percent for drivers and require commuters to pay a small fee every day they park instead of once per year, has drawn concern from a number of residents and out-of-town commuters who use borough facilities at the Radburn Train Station and Saddle River Road bus parking lot.

An ordinance setting the new rules was approved by the Fair Lawn Council in December, but borough officials held a discussion to address residents' concerns and take their feedback during a work session meeting Tuesday night. Most of the residents' concerns fell within four issues with the changes:

1. Cost 
The ordinance replaces the annual parking sticker fee of $54 for borough residents or $188 for non-residents to a daily fee of $1 for residents or $2 for non-residents. This was the first time Fair Lawn increased the cost in 12 years, and the increase brings the borough more in line with other communities on the Bergen, Main and Pascack Valley Lines, officials said.

Several of the dozens of residents at Tuesday's meeting questioned why the increase for Fair Lawn residents was more, as a percentage, than for non-residents. Council members said they would consider raising the out-of-town cost and possibly also lowering the resident cost.

2. Payment Method
The borough will work with Parkmobile, a company which collects payments through a smartphone app, website or phone calls, to help handle parking in the lots.

Using Parkmobile is expected to help the borough lower its costs. Previously, two police records workers had to go through the 700 applications each year, Chief Glen Cauwels said. The contractor will mean they won't need to work overtime on the project, he said.

However, several residents said they didn't want to have to pay every day, as they might forget or have a phone battery die, potentially causing them to get a ticket. Officials said they would discuss including weekly, monthly and possibly even annual payment options. They have not yet signed the agreement with Parkmobile because of the residents' concerns, so changes could still potentially be made, Borough Manager Jim Van Kruiningen said.

3. Enforcement
Officials had planned to start the new system January 1, but delayed that because of residents' concerns. Currently, police are not enforcing the new ordinance. They also can't go back to the old permit program immediately because the new law eliminated that. 

The Fair Lawn Council has scheduled another work session for 6:30 p.m. next Tuesday, during which they will figure out exactly what they want to do next after Van Kruiningen checks with Parkmobile to see what adjustments could be made to the fees. 

Police won't be able to start enforcing the rules until the contract with Parkmobile is signed. That could be another month or more, because changing the fee structure would require officials to pass another ordinance, a process which by law requires a minimum of two readings, an advertisement and a public discussion.

4. Number of Spaces
Residents also said they have found there is not enough parking at the Radburn Station, especially since enforcement has stopped. 

While it's not specifically connected to the new ordinance, officials have been planning a study of Radburn in conjunction with the borough Economic Development Corporation and NJ Transit, which could potentially identify more parking areas. 

Mayor John Cosgrove also said the borough may try to reach an agreement with Pollitt Drive businesses to use their extra parking spots. 
Robert Cartalemi January 15, 2014 at 11:56 AM
So if one of the reasons for the increase is to bring the fees more in line with other communities, I just checked Glen Rock and an resident annual pass costs 145.00 and non resident costs 100 per month. Under our plan residents would pay 220.00 per yr and thats only for 11 months taking vacations into consideration. Non residents would pay 440.00 per year. Somehow I just dont see how this is fair!!! In my opinion $54.00 was very low so why not just double it for residents???
Robert Cartalemi January 15, 2014 at 12:00 PM
PS I should have added that ONLY non residents of Glen Rock have to use Parkmoble!!!
Gene Beltran January 15, 2014 at 02:55 PM
I unfortunately was unable to attend this meeting last night due to the train accident that caused major delays and cancellations (how convenient his happens the night of the work session); however, an increase of approximately 344% is highway robbery. When MTA or Port of Authority make increases to fares or bridge tolls, they do it in increments over an agreed to time. An increase of such is too much too fast and has potential to place many Fair Lawn residents in a tough financial bind. The paying method definitely needs to be re-looked at. Daily, Weekly, and at least Monthly must be offered. Making people pay for daily parking is a potential revenue in parking tickets for the city of Fair Lawn; however, is inconvenient and inconsiderate of commuters using the parking lot and in my opinion is irresponsible. Bergen County was recently placed as #3 in the Nation of highest property taxes. With that said, we pay enough to contribute to our great town of Fair Lawn, NJ. Why do we need to take more out of the pockets of Fair Lawn residents? Fair Lawn is mainly a blue collar town with mostly lower middle class residents. Times are tough for a lot of people. Now is not the time for a 344% parking increase.
Steve Brown January 15, 2014 at 03:41 PM
Having a yearly option is only fair to those of us that need to commute to our jobs every day. It would be unfair for us to risk getting a ticket each day or be shut out if some group one day decides to take 50 spots to go on a field trip to NYC. As to saving money it was stated- “Using Parkmobile is expected to help the borough lower its costs. Previously, two police records workers had to go through the 700 applications each year, Chief Glen Cauwels said. The contractor will mean they won't need to work overtime on the project,” What any business would have done was hire a couple of interns to process them and have them done in day for a day or 2. Voila costs contained. Even if you used $54 the lowest figure for each old style permit you get 54 x 700 which generates $37,800 which I would hope would cover the processing overtime costs and then some--- Additional spots & and daily option would be a lovely bonus and help the non-commuter have access to the trains for the occasional trip in to the city. I’m really glad that the Mayor and the Borough Manager are listening to the reasonable concerns of the hundreds of commuters that rely on these spots each day. I promise you the turn out would have been greater except for the major delays NJ transit had last night

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