The red shows how the narrowing of the roadway would create better flow. COURTESY ARTINIAL

BY KELLY NICHOLAIDES
for Montclair Local

The Church Street Roundabout lacks yield-control devices, pedestrian crosswalks and clear definition. The fountain centerpiece hasn’t worked in six years, said township officials.

But that could soon change.

The Montclair Mayor and Council on Nov. 4 approved the Arterial, LLC 38-page schematic designs the town needed to provide to the New Jersey Department of Transportation in order to receive a $333,430 grant. The state funding is for roadway improvements, including street, paving, curbing and drainage in the area. The town does not yet have a total cost for the project.

“The vision is for a place where pedestrians want to be, with lots of circulation. It’s a community hub. It’s more than just a street. It’s a culture, connectivity and community,” said David Lustberg, Arterial CEO, landscape architect and planner whose company specializes in street design, park space and place branding.

A redesign will address the roundabout deficiencies. “Cars don’t enter. They sort of bypass it, so it doesn’t function as a roundabout. Pedestrian access is difficult, so we developed a realignment and worked with the engineering department. At Church Street and Valley Road we proposed curb pull outs of three to five feet around, and increasing the size of the center of the roundabout to 45 feet [a five-foot increase],” Lustberg said. 

The three types of fountains presented.
COURTESY ARTINIAL

The roundabout schematic designs show four pedestrian crossings with splitter islands at each entry. The roundabout curvature and angles of entry are designed to slow the speed of vehicles. Motorists entering the circle yield to traffic already in it. Pavement markings, curvature at entry points and raised islands direct traffic into a one-way, counter-clockwise flow around the central island. Intersections along the streets extending from the roundabout include scored concrete sidewalks, moveable tables and chairs, radial planting beds, ADA curb ramps and bike racks.

The fountain was constructed in 1976 to commemorate the nation’s bicentennial. It can be easily maintained year round, Lustberg noted. Design plans include classic with a classic sculpture in the middle, sculptural with a modern piece of art or architectural where the water spouting is the piece of art. The fountain construction budget is $150,000, but the cost could rise to $250,000, if the council chooses a more elaborate design, councilman Sean Spiller said. 

Arterial was commissioned in August to develop designs for the roundabout, fountain and surrounding streetscape. Lustberg’s work was paid for with a $40,000 donation the town received from LCOR, the owners of Valley and Bloom, the 258-unit apartment complex.

Councilwoman Renee Baskerville said the design options for the fountain show polar opposites.
“I’m more interested in adding benches. It would be nice if we had more grass and trees for people who may want to walk their animals. There could be an option with grass, trees and seating. I’d rather err on the side of a more environmentally-conscious design,” Baskerville said.

Mayor Robert Jackson noted that the design chosen could be a hybrid of options presented, adding that he supports using capital improvement funding in addition to the grant. 

Spiller said he leaned toward the classic option presented, noting that the area is an extension of the South Park Street area. Arterial completed a Flexible Street Design for that area as well as a Complete Streets reconstruction of Broad Street in Bloomfield. The Church Street roundabout connects to the most visited areas of Montclair, with restaurants, outdoor cafes, a bandstand and shops.

Historic Preservation Commission Chair Kathleen Bennett told the council she wanted the HPC to review the fountain plans, but Jackson said there was not enough time, as the town had to submit plans to the NJDOT by Nov. 7.