Uptown Hobokenites were forced to wake up earlier to move their cars last week, as parking was banned from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Twelfth Street between Willow Avenue and Bloomfield Street due to a city construction project repaving the road. And though parking is rarely considered a new issue in town, this particular project caused a significant amount of uproar from residents, who were outraged that they were forced to move their vehicles by 6 a.m. even though a city ordinance bars construction before 8 a.m.
The project also affected parking on Garden Street and Park Avenue. The restrictions began on Tuesday morning and continued through Friday, when the project was scheduled to finish.
At least one resident, Angelo Valente, a former city councilman and lifelong Hoboken resident, called the city for an explanation as to why he was being required to move his car two hours earlier than when work could begin.
“I’ve been here my whole life and I wouldn’t normally complain about something like this,” said Valente. “But when I spoke to whoever was working the desk at the Parking Utility on Tuesday morning, I was told that we had to move two hours earlier as a courtesy to the construction company.”
“I can’t believe they’re putting the community in a situation where residents have to do this.” – Angelo Valente
“I can’t believe they’re putting the community in a situation where residents have to do this,” he said. “I understand that we want to be courteous to people doing improvements to the city, but what about extending courtesies to us?”
Reached by phone on Wednesday, John Morgan, the city’s director of parking and public transportation, said that the Parking Utility worker’s choice of words were unfortunate, but that the 6 a.m. parking cutoff is necessary to get the project finished in as short a time as possible.
“The ordinance says that construction can’t begin until eight, but that doesn’t mean that the crews are arriving then,” he said. “They have preliminary things they do; they have to get set up. A lot of things need to happen before the jackhammer gets going, but if they can get moving exactly at 8 a.m. the entire project gets done faster.”
Camille Alter, a Park Avenue resident whose husband works for a nightly news station and sometimes doesn’t drive home from work until past midnight, said that parking is always a nightmare for her family, but especially this past week.
“He can’t find a space at night, and he usually has to sleep late in the morning, so between the noise and the parking, this has been very impossible,” she said. “He’s thinking of getting a scooter soon.”
Alter said that although she was glad Twelfth Street was getting a makeover, she thought the concentration of construction projects uptown was amplifying the parking problem.
“There doesn’t seem to be a lot of rationale as to why they choose to work on the projects that they do,” she said. “If it was just this one thing, that would be one thing, but then there’s the project over here and over there and over there. It causes a real squeeze.”
Maryanne Wilkins, who lives on Bloomfield Street, said that she noticed the signs on Monday and prepared aptly.
“As soon as I saw the sign I moved both my cars,” she said, noting that if the construction was being done during the school year, she’d be having a much harder time. “This has become increasingly difficult and stressful.”
Deirdre Healy, a Washington Street resident who said she often parks on Twelfth Street, said that she appreciated the effort by the city to keep the roads paved, but that she thought allowing construction companies two extra hours to set up was “a little ridiculous.”
“But I think that’s part of living here,” she said. “You have to take the good with the bad.”
Morgan, no stranger to complaints over inconsistencies in parking regulations, called the Twelfth Street situation “one of those things where you don’t like the taste of the medicine, even though it’s going to make you feel better.”
“The reality is that by requiring people to move their cars by 6 a.m. we’re trying to avoid more headaches,” he said. “If we required it to be moved by 8 a.m., there would be a lot of stories like ‘Oh, I was in the shower,’ or ‘I overslept,’ and then it's a much worse situation because the car would be towed by then.”
He also said that although he regretted his employee’s statement to Valente, it was a good lesson for him as to how to train his staff, much of which is recently hired and part-time.
Dean DeChiaro may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org