Friday, April 11, 2008

West Deptford Twp. NJ - Safe Routes to School Poster Child

From the Gloucester County Times:

W. Deptford walkway issue remains unresolved
Friday, April 04, 2008
By Siobhan A. Counihan

WEST DEPTFORD TWP. Township officials reaffirmed their position Thursday evening that there is nothing more they can do to resolve the issue of a now-defunct walkway that some residents had been hoping to restore.

The walkway, which was installed by the developer and connected the Grande at Kings Woods to the township middle school, was ripped out in August as the township prepared to release the easement granted to them. Since then, neighborhood children have had to walk along Grove Road to get to the middle school.

Township officials had cited safety issues for the walkway's removal. Most notably, the walkway at three to four feet wide was not handicap accessible, according to township Administrator Eric Campo.

Beth Tachdjian, a resident of the Grande and outspoken advocate for restoring the walkway, once again pleaded with the township committee for assistance at Thursday evening's meeting.

"Our development is in total chaos," Tachdjian said. "What has happened is it's this side against that side. You guys have worked very hard at this. This is something that no other development...should have to go through."

Tachdjian also expressed displeasure that the speed limit on Grove Road has yet to be reduced.

The speed limit on Grove Road, a county road, is currently 50 mph with a 35 mph school zone and the county has asked that the speed limits be reduced by 5 mph, according to police Chief Craig Mangano. The state Department of Transportation has yet to approve the change.

"It's a shame it takes so long, but we can't control what happens, especially at the state level," Mangano said. "We'll make it happen as soon as we can."

Mayor Anna Docimo said that while she understands the residents' concerns for the safety of neighborhood children, the issue is beyond the township's control at this point.

"We can't do any more," Docimo said. "We've done all that we can do."

Campo said that the residents interested in restoring the walkway must bring the matter before a judge to be litigated.

"It does not behoove the township to say anything further in light of the litigation that is to come," Campo said. "All these claims that everybody is talking about are going to have to be evaluated by a judge."

Vince McCloskey, another Grande resident, said he objected to the township's position that the issue of the walkway is no longer a matter to be solved by the township.

"The township removed the walkway," McCloskey said. "You shouldn't have touched it. You should've just let it be."

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