By Kelly Nicholaides
for Montclair Local
Seymour Street apartment complex residents are lamenting the loss of their neighborhood parking lot since it closed last week due to the construction of the development project near the Wellmont Theater.
Now, residents are forced to park several blocks away at Crescent Deck to employ their $1,200 annual residential parking permits. The residents said the parking issue was exacerbated when South Willow Street parking lot closed on Aug. 22. The South Fullerton lot is scheduled to close around Sept. 7.
“Inconvenience is not an appropriate word for this. We’re tailoring our lives around parking,” said resident Kathleen Santangelo.
Residents said visitors attending concerts at the Wellmont Theater and dining at area restaurants take up permit parking spaces, adding they are wary of leaving on the weekends for fear of losing their parking spot.
“We are constantly battling for parking with tourists, especially by the Wellmont. If we don’t get spots by Friday, we won’t get any until Monday,” resident Mary Ann Reidy said at the Aug. 28 council meeting. “Imagine that you just went to Trader Joe’s or took your dog to a park. You came back and had to walk for blocks [from Crescent Deck] with bags of groceries. Consider the logistics.”
The South Willow and South Fullerton parking lots contain a combined 100 metered and permit parking spaces. Additionally, the Plymouth Street lot near Seymour Street has 50 parking spaces that fill up by 7 p.m., residents said.
Visitors take permit parking spots when there’s overflow at meters, Reidy explained. She suggested that the Plymouth lot meters be eliminated so residents can use the lot exclusively for permit parking.
The Seymour Street development approved last year will consist of two buildings. The first structure will have 200 residential units, 232 parking spaces, 10,000 square feet dedicated to arts and entertainment and 30,000 square feet of retail space facing Bloomfield Avenue and Seymour Street. The second building will feature two stories of office space and five floors of parking.
A centerpiece will be a 14,000 square foot public pedestrian mall located directly in front of the Wellmont on Seymour Street, which will be closed to traffic. Street parking there will be eliminated.
The Seymour Street residents attending the meeting said they feel renters are being disrespected.
Dorothena Barnes said walking home from Crescent Deck presents a safety issue.
“This is Montclair but there’s still crime and I’m a woman walking home a longer distance,” Barnes said.
Resident Brian Cowherd asked the council to allow Seymour Street residents to park on the street, bypassing the no overnight parking rule, between 2 a.m. – 6 a.m., around the Seymour Street area. “Whether we transfer to the Crescent or not [when construction ends], we need the ability to park on the street. We need an exception to the [no overnight] parking rule,” Cowherd said.
Township attorney Ira Karasick noted that the town will take the residents’ concerns under consideration. “This is a dynamic situation. When we see people in distress, we want to make adjustments,” Karasick said.
Alternate parking since the closure of the South Willow and South Fullerton lots include the Crescent Deck, Maple Plaza, the Orange Road Deck, and the Fullerton and Midtown lots.