Close the gate near the school

Dear Editor:

Recent articles in several area newspapers reported on the issue of trucks being directed to the Secaucus industrial area via Fifth Street, apparently due to the use of G.P.S. units. This is clearly a problem which Mayor Elwell has suggested needs to be addressed with the companies providing the information. The problem it seems is that the companies fail to mention the fact that there is a gate which prevents entry into the industrial area.

However the issue of the misdirected trucks is only a small portion of a much larger issue. Allow me to give you a brief history of the reason behind the presence of that gate which was originally a simple chain.

In about 1960 when Enterprise Avenue, then named Frozen Food Plaza, was built by Merchants Refrigeration Corporation it terminated at the intersection of Fifth and Mansfield Avenue.

A group of local men including my late father went to the office of the then Mayor and demanded that a chain be installed in an effort to prevent the street from becoming a through street for truck traffic headed to the Merchants company which at the time was the only building on the new road. The chain was installed by the town out of concern for the safety of the children at nearby Clarendon School.

This gate was intended to be open only for the passage of emergency vehicles. But for the last number of years the town has taken to opening the gate for several hours each weekday as a matter of convenience in order to help the local businesses by attracting a lunch crowd.

Considering the fact that the present Clarendon School is even closer to that gate than the old school which I and Councilman Mike Gonnelli attended when the original chain was installed in 1960 and in view of the fact that traffic is greatly increased in 2008, I believe that all would agree that the safety issue is even greater than at that time. As a matter of fact Mayor Elwell has used the issue of the safety of the children attending Clarendon School as a reason to prevent the Damascus Bakery from occupying the building next to that gate. Does the Mayor believe that the daily opening of that gate represents any less of a threat to the safety of those same children?

Even though his concern for the safety of the children is well founded I believe that he shows a serious disregard for the safety and welfare of those same children by permitting the daily opening of that gate for any form of traffic other than emergency vehicles.

If Mayor Elwell really wants to use the safety issue of the children of Clarendon School in his legal attempt to keep the bakery out of that building he must at the same time prevent all traffic from entering Fifth Street via Enterprise Avenue. Anything less would be pure hypocrisy. I call on the parents of all Clarendon School students and the teachers of those children to demand that the gate be kept closed at all times.

Michael Seyfried


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