Westfield Police Capt. Scott Rodger confirmed a 36-year-old woman from Parlin, NJ was hit by a car in the crosswalk on North Avenue West in front of Lord & Taylor at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15. She was transported to the hospital by the Westfield Volunteer Rescue Squad.
The driver, a 21-year-old Cranford woman, was issued a summons for failure to yield to a pedestrian in crosswalk.
The crosswalk, which allows employees access to the off-site parking lot, has been the scene of several accidents involving pedestrians. In August 2009, a Lord & Taylor employee crossing from the parking lot to the store was hit by a car driven by a suspected drunk driver. The employee, 25-year-old Clark resident Gina Marrotta, received head injuries and broken bones in the accident, and resulted in the arrest of Westfield resident Leslie Boughner. Several years earlier, a Lord & Taylor employee was killed while crossing in that crosswalk.
In April of 2012, the Westfield Town Council passed a resolution supporting the efforts of Lord & Taylor’s property management company, National Realty and Development Corp., to install a High Intensity Activated Crosswalk (HAWK) pedestrian-activated signal at the location. From design to construction and maintenance, the cost of the light will be borne by Lord & Taylor.
Councilwoman JoAnn Neylan, chair of the public safety, transportation and parking committee introduced the resolution and said that the committee had been working with the county, as that portion of North Avenue is a county road, and Lord & Taylor since 2010 to improve safety in that area.
Neylan cited a traffic report prepared by Gordon Meth on March 3, 2012 that concluded that a HAWK signal is recommended at that location. The County of Union engaged the firm of Pennoni Associates Inc. to review the report prepared by Meth and concurred with his findings.
Westfield residents have asked Patch why, eight months later, the light has yet to be installed. Councilman Keith Loughlin, vice chair of the public safety, transportation and parking committee, explained that while the Town of Westfield has signed off on everything, the light's installation requires final approval from the County.
"The ball is rolling," Loughlin said. "We are optimistic that we'll see that light installed in the early months of 2013. It's much-needed and we hope it will make it much safer."
In the Oct. 11, 2012 edition of The Westfield Leader it was reported that the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders considered a resolution to support the installation of the HAWK signal at the Lord & Taylor crosswalk at its Oct. 4 agenda-setting meeting. At the time, Jerry Bermingham, a representative of National Realty and Development Corp., told The Leader the corporation hoped to have the pedestrian light installed by Thanksgiving, although he noted that it would require an “aggressive construction schedule.”
At the Town Council meeting held on Tuesday, Dec. 11, Westfield resident Pamela Orbach spoke of the need for public safety improvements. She suggested that the police department target offenses such as failure to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk, if only to issue warnings in an effort to increase awareness.