Township Council Approves Proposal To Close Second Section Of Canal Road To Cars Twice A Year

Township resident Brad Fay speaks in support of closing to traffic part of canal Road twice a summer.

It took a little while to get there, but the Township Council on May 11 approved a proposal to close to automobile traffic Canal Road from the Griggstown Causeway to Route 518 two Sundays in the summer.

The idea is to allow bicyclists, walkers and joggers unfettered access to the road, similar to what is done on the southern end of Canal Road twice a year with the Walk and Roll event. That event results in the closure of Canal Road from East Millstone to Butler Road.

What triggered an extended debate about the latest proposal was Mayor Phil Kramer’s request that the township buy banners that could be hung across a road, as a means of advertising, for each event. Some council members were concerned that doing so would create a precedent of what could be considered a private event getting township support, and spur similar requests for other events.

But Township manager Robert Vornlocker told the council that the road closure, just like the Walk and Roll events, would be township-sponsored events, and any costs associated with them should be picked up by the township.

“If we’re going to close a township street and allow township residents to come and walk and ride their bicycles, it’s a township event,” he said.

The banners cost about $500 each, Vornlocker said.

Vornocker also said the township pays for police officers for the events, the cost or each of which is about $2,300.

It wasn’t the cost, but the idea that other organizations could come to the township asking for money for their events, too, that stalled the proposal for a while.

The idea to close Canal Road between Griggstown and Route 518 was brought to the council from a Canal Road resident, Brad Fay. Fay told the council that he and his wife sit on their porch on weekends and “watch the conflicts that happen with automobiles driving too fast and bicyclists in particular and sometimes joggers and pedestrians.”

Fay said closing the street in that area would “encourage the use of this beautiful byway by residents of Franklin and the surrounding area for bicycling, horseback riding, jogging and walking. We think this would promote healthy recreation, would promote appreciation for historic resources, for environmental assets, and promote civic engagement by getting people out there.”

“There’s a lot of enthusiasm for the idea,” he said. “Sort of a take our street back in a way.”

The council seemed agreeable to the idea, but after Kramer asked for the banners, some council members, including Roz Sherman (D-Ward 2) and Kimberly Francois (D-At Large) wanted reassurances that providing the banners wouldn’t open the flood gates to other organizations in the township asking for similar things.

“This wasn’t something that was originated by the township,” Sherman said. If someone else wants a banner, she said, “we will not have a leg to stand on.”

Vornlocker’s explanation seemed to calm their fears; after some discussion, the proposal to close the road and provide two banners passed unanimously.


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