Residents in Weehawken may soon find themselves with an easier search for a parking spot. At least that’s the hope of the Weehawken Parking Authority, as it prepares to unveil new residential parking regulations this spring.
Reviewing and adjusting the residential parking program was one of the first objectives Parking Authority Executive Director Robert Sosa laid out when the Parking Authority was re-formed in town last year.
“The township of Weehawken has had a parking program in effect for many years,” said Sosa last week. “But it fell short.”
There are already some regulations in place. Right now, only Weehawken residents with decals – or visitors with a visitor parking permit – can park on public streets from Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until noon. This keeps out-of-town commuters from parking in Weehawken all day to hop a bus to New York. However, during all other hours, anyone can park on the streets.
The deadline to get a new parking sticker is Mar. 31
“[Residents] need to know that if they leave in the evening they’ll be able to park closer to home when they get back,” said Sosa. “With the new ordinance, there’s a good chance that they will. Visitors will be able to park closer, too.”
Other towns with transportation to New York, such as Hoboken and Jersey City, have already instituted strict parking regulations to preserve parking spaces for their residents. Now, with a recently passed ordinance, Weehawken is prepared to do the same.
“For about the last two years we’ve been speaking about the need to better organize the efforts of the Parking Authority,” said Sosa. “[We’ve] come up with a solution that is all-encompassing for the needs of the residents, visitors and people that want to come in for business.”
How to play by the rules
Under the new ordinance, which will go into effect officially some time in April, cars parked on Weehawken streets at night will need to exhibit a proper resident or visitor decal from 10 p.m. through 7 a.m. And during the day, from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m., there will be a four-hour parking limit for those who do not have a resident, visitor, or business parking permit.
The hours on Boulevard East vary slightly, with the evening restrictions beginning at 9 p.m. instead of 10 p.m.
In addition to the legality of passing a new ordinance, the Parking Authority has also instituted a new, state-of-the-art database to maintain parking permit records. The new database will better equip enforcement officers by implementing a license plate recognition system.
The pass/fail system will be mounted onto a vehicle that will go up and down the streets. The sensory device will be able to determine whether a car is displaying a proper permit by scanning the license plates.
Vehicles that do not register as permitted will automatically send a notice through the system with a GPS coordinate, time, and place that the license plate was spotted.
A ticketing truck will follow shortly after the notice comes through the system to issue the violation.
“We’ll be able to target a select group of cars instead of going to each car individually,” said Sosa.
The Parking Authority will continue to analyze the parking situation in Weehawken, noting where most of the infractions take place and making changes as necessary.
The response from most residents so far has been a pleasant surprise for Sosa and the Parking Authority employees.
“A lot of people are raving that it was time we reassess our parking laws,” said Sosa. “No one is complaining.”
A lot of consideration and effort has gone into the planning of the new parking rules. Sosa researched policies in other municipalities and at large universities to determine best practices. He has also been working to keep the expenditures low, in one case foregoing a $25,000 database system and instead using an in-house IT person to create their own, which cost only 10 percent of the prepackaged system and is better customized for the town.
The handheld tools used by enforcement officers are provided for free by the State of New Jersey, which gets a percentage of any violation issued. For Sosa, income from violations is not a driving force at the Parking Authority.
“Our motive is not revenue,” said Sosa. “Our efforts are to create parking for our residents. It’s a quality-of-life thing. Revenue from violations was not something that was ever a big deal, but lack of parking is.”
Residents and area businesses have been notified by through brochures and community outreach. The Parking Authority also launched their new website last week, www.weehawkenpa.org, which features all of the information about the upcoming change, as well as links to permit applications.
The public is encouraged to contact the Parking Authority office with any questions or comments at (201) 863-1523 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The office is located at 4528 Park Ave.
Lana Rose Diaz can be reached at email@example.com.