I am a long-time resident of the city of Englewood. I am your neighbor. I am not your enemy. I understand that you no longer want to tolerate streets congested with traffic during certain times going to and from the George Washington Bridge. However, your mayor is taking you down a rabbit hole, a nonsensical pathway that doesn’t lead anywhere and one that is, and will continue to be, very costly to Leonia.
The mayor’s solution to close off roadways to non-residents will not hold up to scrutiny. The implementation is already hurting downtown commerce and has your neighbors up in arms. Englewood and Teaneck residents traveling through Leonia risk being stopped, questioned and ticketed. Your neighbors no longer want to frequent the downtown stores and restaurants.
The mayor’s solution was not based on any professional input, advice or study. When confronted by the New Jersey attorney general, the mayor produced and submitted a 20-year-old study related to pedestrian access and unrelated to street closures (RBA Traffic Circulation & Pedestrian Safety Case Study), http://bit.ly/LeoniaTrafficReport. In 2017, your own police chief attempted to get a grant from the Port Authority for additional traffic officers and stated that “had the funding been provided to the borough of Leonia, I would have recommended to the mayor and council not to proceed with the Safe Streets Ordinance” (statement dated October 10, 2018),
http://bit.ly/LeoniaRoweStatement. In other words, with appropriate staffing levels for traffic safety, none of this would have unfolded with such a controversial and confrontational approach.
What is clear is that professional engineering and planning input is needed. Leonia’s current stance will not stand the legal challenges nor the political and economic stress that it places on the town. Leonians are experiencing traffic problems and reasonable and responsible solutions are available. Leonia, working with its neighbors and particularly Bergen County government can craft professionally supported solutions that work for all. I am your neighbor, not your enemy.Lisa Wisotsky, MD