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Maple Ave. Dead End Issue 'Ruining' One Man's Life

Pine Brook resident said temporary barriers negatively impacting neighborhood as Township Committee continues to consider solution.

As the summer is nearing its conclusion, the still has not decided on a permanent solution to dead-ending Maple Avenue, in Pine Brook.

The township began discussing a dead end on the road after about motorists speeding through their neighborhood, which is between Route 80 and Route 46. in the area and confirmed that cars are often traveling on Maple Avenue at a high rate of speed.

, blocking the roadway to thru traffic, since July. But one neighborhood resident said the bright orange barriers have affected his quality of life in a negative way and urged the committee Tuesday night to move forward with a permanent solution.

"This is ruining our lives, to be honest with you," Herb Eggers said. "Everybody's giving me the finger because they think I wanted this...Everybody figures this is in front of my house, I wanted it."

Eggers and his wife, Marie, opposed the dead-ending of the street initially, but agreed after former Township Engineer Tony Barile presented a permanent cul-de-sac construction option to the committee that they agreed with. But the pricetag that came with that option was not agreeable to all committee members. The township engineer's office continued to work on a construction solution that would cost less money while the township allocated $60,000 out of the current fiscal year's budget for the project, which included the cost of the temporary barriers and signage marking the street a dead end.

In addition to financial hurdles, two property owners whose commercial properties would be affected by the construction of the cul-de-sac have been hard to get a hold of, according to Assistant Engineer Mark Mantyla. While Mantyla said he has been unable to reach the owner of one of the properties, another owner allegedly did not agree to any type of easements that would allow construction of the cul-de-sac on part of his property.

Mantyla presented the committee with a new, alternative cul-de-sac option Tuesday night which would not need the permission of the property owners. In his presentation, he proposed a cul-de-sac with a 30-foot radius. The total cost of the project proposed Tuesday would be $144,569, although Mantyla said $22,298 included in that cost for curbing and re-surfacing Maple Avenue could be removed.

"Although the township minimum standard is 40 feet, a 30-foot culdesac is adequate for an average car to make that turnaround," Mantyla said.

Also included in his proposal was two extensions on the cul-de-sac for larger trucks to make three-point turns. But Marie Eggers said large trucks are not allowed on the street, as indicated by existing signs, and she did not think the extensions were needed.

"If you're a good truck driver, you can back up anything and you should be able to back up anything," she said.

Mayor Tim Braden agreed and said if a truck driver enters the dead end and then has to back up, they will learn not to do it again.

Marie Eggers said she and her husband were concerned that the cul-de-sac would become a parking area for vehicles. She asked the committee to construct a simple cul-de-sac and add landscaping "just to make it look nice." Like her husband, she emphasized the affect the project has already had on their quality of life in the neighborhood.

"Getting this done as quickly as possible is a major concern to us," she said. "That barrier's an eyesore and it's like rubbing salt in the wounds."

But not all residents who live in the area feel the same.

Sylvia Walits, a resident who has been lobbying for the dead end for several years, was not at the meeting but she described the barriers as "gorgeous" to Patch and said she feels they have made her life and the lives of the neighborhood children better.

"I feel like I was Dorothy and I clicked my heels and life was the way it should have been," she said.

Walits was primarily concerned about the safety of the kids and approached the committee in tears on several occasions, begging for a solution. Even with the temporary barriers in place this summer, Walits said she feels relief.

"It's been wonderful," she said. "I can tell you that these children have had the best summer ever. They've played in the streets without having to look right or left."

Mantyla said since the design of the cul-de-sac has not yet been approved and the project has not yet gone out to bid, it is likely that construction may not start on a permanent cul-de-sac until next spring. Braden said this timeline could have been expected, as the township committee did not expect to make a decision on the design of the cul-de-sac until September. Committeeman Scott Gallopo said he was uncomfortable with how long it will take before a permanent solution is in place, as the committee promised the residents that the temporary barriers would be temporary.

"If we cannot get this done in the fall, bid out and constructed, I'd like to revisit the idea of multiple stop signs," he said.

But Mantyla said he did not think a four-way stop would be an option for the location.

"According to [the state Department of Transportation], you have to meet certain criteria to install all-way stops and, unfortunately, we don't meet any of those," he said.

The criteria, Mantyla said, includes being able to show that there have been at least five accidents at that location within the past year and that a minimum of 300 vehicles pass through the intersection within an hour. According to the most recent data, Mantyla said between 400 and 500 vehicles pass through the intersection within a 24-hour period.

Discussion on the cul-de-sac was scheduled to be continued at the committee's Sept. 11 meeting so that residents who have an interest in the project can be notified.

Louise August 16, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Eric, I had to laugh when I read that too! I didn't know living on a dead-end was a prerequisite for kids having fun! Oh my poor kids! LOL. Good idea. Teach them to play in the roads with complete disregard! Haha.
Ron Cain Jr August 16, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Funny thing is there is a township park less that one block from where these people live. Guess we can close our parks and cul-de-sac our roads.
EMG August 16, 2012 at 09:22 PM
I can totally see where she is coming from with that comment. I live on Schneider Lane: what should be a quiet street here in Montville but isn't because of the constant barrage of speeding cars that use it to go from 202 over to Changebridge and vice versa. It used to be a dead end street years ago and I would be thrilled if it was again. Because I'm lazy and want to teach my kids to "play on the road with complete disregard"? No, because it would be nice to know they could ride their bike, go for a walk or play basketball out front without the speed demons flying past and nearly hitting them.
Defender of the Truth August 16, 2012 at 10:05 PM
EMG...all you have to do is go to the township committee meeting and tell them you want a barricade!! LOL Also- sounds to me like Dorothy needs to go back to Kansas!! Yards are where children should be playing- not streets. We need to be teaching our children responsibility not carelessness.
Fact Checker August 17, 2012 at 02:57 AM
Ron, the true "funny thing" is that the park is in disrepair, and the local day laborers use it as a place to congregate and party. Did I mention that they also bring their unlicensed dogs, including pitbulls, and let them run loose? Visit the place regularly and see for yourself if you think I'm exaggerating. Not exactly the kind of place you want to bring kids on a regular basis.
Keith Olsen August 20, 2012 at 02:24 AM
To all the critics, we don't expect the kids in our neighborhood to literally be playing in the streets with total disregard for traffic. But kids in this close-knit neighborhood do ride their bikes to their friends' houses, wait on the corner (in the street since there are no sidewalks) for the school bus, play ball in the front yard, and walk down the block to visit a friend or relative a few doors down. Before the barrier was put in, we saw vehicles regularly racing down Maple at over 50 mph, a speed more appropriate for Route 46 than a quiet residential area, and a speed at which none of us felt safe to have our kids anywhere near Maple Ave. With the barrier in place, we still tell our kids to be cautious, look both ways, and not to play in the middle of the street. But with significantly fewer cars, and no speeding cut-through traffic, we don't have to worry that if kid chases a ball into the street that a delivery truck speeding through at 70 mph (yes, such speeds were recorded, and neighbors have all witnessed) won't be able to stop in time. Believe it or not, this really is a neighborhood where kids of all ages are outside playing together, going from yard to yard and house to house. Maybe it doesn't happen in other parts of this town, but it happens here, and that is something we all should want to encourage.
Keith Olsen August 20, 2012 at 02:31 AM
Yes, all you have to do is go to township committee meetings to get a barricade! Many neighbors have been going to meeting after meeting for an entire year, several years, some even brought this up to the committee decades ago. We've gotten 20, 30 or more neighbors to turn out for multiple meetings, sit through hours of other business, waiting until after 11 p.m. some nights to get their voices heard. And it was a fight the entire time. And it apparently still isn't over yet.
Keith Olsen August 20, 2012 at 02:38 AM
The John Street Park is mosquito infested, hidden behind office buildings so no one can see what happens back there, regularly has out-of-state vehicles suspiciously parked in the lot, and is a quite literally a scary place to even think of sending kids. Do not criticize Mrs. Walits. Her kids are all grown. She unselfishly attends meeting after meeting only for the sake of her neighbors' kids and the betterment of her neighborhood. More people should care as much about their neighbors as she does.
Liz Kril August 21, 2012 at 02:24 PM
The landscaping idea is nice, but who will maintain it? You may have to deal with a lot of overgrown weeds.
Defender of the Truth August 21, 2012 at 02:58 PM
First of all- the 70mph speed that was supposedly recorded is crap. It is impossible to go that fast down Margaret or John St., where that speed was supposedly recorded. So either the machine wasn't working properly or someone is fudging numbers! As far as maintaining the landscape of the cul-de-sac, it should be the town maintaining it- since they are the ones putting it in!
Christopher Burke August 27, 2012 at 02:24 AM
The 70mph speeds were clocked on Maple ave not Margaret or John so know your facts before talking. Also, no one in the neighborhood encouragers their children to play in the street. There are no sidewalks in this neighborhood therefore, in order for the children to meet up with their friends, they have to walk in the street or ride their bikes in the street. I personally thank Mrs. Walits for not only caring for my children but caring for all the children in the neighborhood and I commend her for her diligence with this issue.
Defender of the Truth August 27, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Actually my facts are correct- that fact came directly from the speed study report that the town conducted. Said 70mph speeds by a UPS type vehicle on Margaret Dr. Which is IMPOSSIBLE. I have been to the meetings- Mrs. Walits keep repeating her "Americana" speech- claiming it's for the betterment of the neighborhood- I just think she has nothing better to do. I am continually in that neighborhood visiting friends and not once have I seen kids out playing this summer. The barriers went up and they all went back to playing their Xbox and Playstation! This whole battle between neighbors is crap. If Mrs. Walits really wanted to better the neighborhood then maybe she should stop preaching and try to get everyone together as a community. Her definition of Americana is clearly off- she wants a picture perfect neighborhood- from the outside. My Americana is different people living together in a community and coming together for the better good. Which after all this- clearly isn't happening. It's really sad.
Defender of the Truth August 27, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Eric you are so right! Not to mention I guess people are still oblivious to the massive industrial complexes tat are still going to be there whether there is a cul-de-sac or not!!
Barbara Burke September 01, 2012 at 02:34 AM
First of all Mr. Stikna and Defender/Truth, my kids are not playing video games at friend's houses. They are riding bikes, playing with friends or at their sport's practices. Please don't comment on something you know NOTHING about. As far as "jacking up" house prices, you again spoke out of turn. My family began living in my house in the early 1940's & I am currently raising my children (fourth generation) here. I have lived in my house for 40+ years & have no intention of selling it any time soon. I would love to see one of my kids live here after I am gone because of the wonderful neighbors I have, many of which have been here as long as I have. I believe it was Mr. Eggers who was worried about the value of his property going DOWN if a cul-de-sac was put in place. The majority of the neighbors were worried about the speeding cars that were either getting to Rt. 80 or the building at the end of Maple. Mr. Eggers may be upset about people "giving him the finger" or dirty looks, but that's what has happened to many of us when we have told people to slow down. These people speeding are NOT our neighbors, they are from other towns or states (NY). This cul-de-sac should curtail the people who don't see this as a neighborhood, but rather a launch pad to get to Rt. 80. When the GI property is developed, it will be worse. And "Defender",we know the buildings are there. Why is it a problem for us to want some relief from that traffic? Why so bitter? Where do you live?
Defender of the Truth September 01, 2012 at 11:35 AM
Mrs. Burke- I am not bitter at all. I have friends in your neighborhood and am down there quite often- so I hear much of the controversy regarding the cul-de-sac issue. I am from town and do go to town meetings. I just think that it's sad that everyone can't come to a joint decision- you stated you have wonderful neighbors but it seems that no one is getting along and everyone is against each other. As far as the buildings- industry is everywhere- and unfortunately that is not going to change- people are lucky to have jobs these days. While I am sure that there were a few speeders going through your neighborhood- you can't include everyone that works in those buildings. But I am sorry to say that there are speeders everywhere- it's just the way it is- it's not just your neighborhood!

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