Newark Avenue Pedestrian Mall - Ordinance Announcement

Monday, June 22, 2015

Dear HCA Members & Subscribers:

As many of you’ve likely noticed, the block of Newark Avenue between Erie and Grove was closed last week and tables and planters have been placed in the closure to reinstate the PEDESTRIAN MALL. The City has stated that this closure is a preliminary activity, prior to passage of an ordinance that would close the street to vehicle through-traffic on an ongoing basis.

The first reading of the ordinance is this Wednesday, June 24, and its second reading (and vote for adoption) is likely to be either July 1 or July 15.

HCA has been in active communication with the City regarding its plans for the Newark Avenue mall since its pilot program last summer. Based on residents’ feedback, we had expressed the following main concerns of residents (among others): (i) at least some form of limited vehicle access is necessary for residents of that block, including on weekends, (ii) quality of life issues related to noise (amplified or loud music being of special concern), trash collection, problems related to public intoxication (fights, public urination) and so forth need to be better addressed, (iii) a need to limit the maximum number of large events that can be conducted on the mall and to ensure that they abide by normal limits, (iv) if this goes forward, the design of the features of any resulting public space should be handled by an outside professional skilled in designing similar types of spaces for other cities. 

The City, in response, has incorporated several provisions into the governing language for the Pedestrian Mall. These are outlined below. 

Ordinance Language:

If adopted, these provisions would exist as the law unless the Council takes a formal vote as part of its legislative process (i.e., public notice, public hearing, Council vote, etc. are required). The key points are:

  • City is empowered to remove individuals from the plaza if they are creating “undue amounts of noise, waste, and/or a potentially dangerous or threatening environment.”
  • Ordinance explicitly prohibits loitering in the plaza (including benches) between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
  • Ordinance explicitly prohibits amplified music or sounds on the Newark Ave. closure, but allows for the normal activities that have gone on in the existing plaza in front of the Grove Street PATH station (e.g., Groove on Grove, etc.)

Operating Plan Language:

These also represent the rules of the pedestrian mall area. If adopted these rules would have legal force, but the difference is that they can be changed by the Business Administrator without going to a Council vote. The key points are:

  • A one-way slow (5 m.p.h.) access lane for deliveries and emergency vehicles. This includes allowances for residents on that block to Vehicle Access Permits onto the mall for limited purposes of pick up and drop off at their residences, from 8:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m (Mon-Fri) and 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. on weekends.
  • Allowances for restricted use of bicycles and other non-motorized vehicles (skateboards, scooters, etc.) at 5 m.p.h. or less in a manner safe for pedestrians and others on the mall.
  • A permanent police post of one or more officers will be assigned whenever manpower allows and during high pedestrian volume times.
  • No more than 1 total event per month shall be permitted to occur within the Pedestrian Mall that includes more than 50 anticipated attendees. No exceptions for city-sponsored events.

The full text of the ordinance and the operating plan can be downloaded here for those who would like to review it. HCA will announce any official positions that it may take on the ordinance and the future of the Newark Avenue Pedestrian Mall after internal discussion among our Board and membership. 

If you have questions, please feel free to contact me at harsimusjeremy@gmail.com.

 

Best regards,
Jeremy Jacobsen
President, Harsimus Cove Association

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