LAKEHURST – The Lakehurst Borough Council will consider banning parking on the west side of Orchard Street between Church Street and Union Avenue during certain hours.
Families will park between Church and Union during before- and after-school hours to drop off and pick up their children from Lakehurst Elementary School. Residents will sometimes park work vehicles on the street. And during events – most recently, the borough’s Independence Day celebration and fireworks – people will park on both sides of Orchard Street, as parking is temporarily suspended along Union Avenue.
The problem is, Orchard Street between Church and Union is narrow even without any cars parked on it. When cars park on both the east and west side of the street, it becomes impassable to larger passenger vehicles and emergency vehicles.
Council President Steve Oglesby said he has heard from residents and seen for himself how narrow the street gets with cars parking on both sides.
“It sounds like a safety issue,” Mayor Harry Robbins agreed.
There’s never been an official complaint made to borough police about the road being impassable, Lakehurst Police Chief Eric Higgins said in a phone call to The Manchester Times. However, the potential for problems was brought up by an emergency services worker during a recent meeting of the OEM Local Emergency Planning Committee.
“Orchard Street is very narrow, narrower than a normal roadway,” Higgins said. “When people park on both sides, drivers want to exercise good prudence, they don’t want to risk hitting cars, so sometimes they won’t even drive down that way. Of course, the question is, what if we had to get an emergency vehicle down that street and couldn’t?”
Higgins said there was no discussion at that Office of Emergency Management meeting about what hours to restrict parking on Orchard Street.
While the police department has authority to temporarily ban parking, to create permanent restrictions, the Council must first obtain New Jersey Department of Transportation permission. After that is received, they must have a first and second reading and public hearing of an ordinance before adopting it.
So, any parking restrictions are likely months away from happening.
There are at least two other places in the borough where parking is prohibited, Higgins said. Parking isn’t allowed on Elm Street’s east side from Union Avenue to Hibernia Avenue. He said as long as he’s been with the police department – 26 years and counting – that prohibition has been in place.
After the townhomes were built on Fays Lane, parking along the lane prevented delivery trucks from using the road. Higgins said parking is allowed only the north side of Fays Lane.
Higgins added that parking tickets require a court appearance, with the judge determining the fine.