Despite continuing parking issues, the Parking Advisory Committee of Cape May has been disbanded. . The committee, in existence for years under various administrations, was told via email that its services were no longer needed.
This blog has been updated to include the response letter from the committee to City Council. You can read that letter.
Why disband a productive committee in a town with a history of parking problems?
Charged with finding solutions and recommendations to the city’s parking and transportation woes, the parking advisory committee sought out-of-the-box ideas to improve the visitor experience. That ended Tuesday night.
The news came a week earlier via email from the Mayor:
“City Council has decided not to renew the Parking Committee at this time. We would like to pause to reevaluate its purpose moving forward. As you know City Council wants to remain focused on improving parking in Cape May” Zack Mulluck
The as you know line creates the question; Then why dissolve your parking committee?
It is unclear if everyone on the council knew the Mayor had delivered that email to the committee. “Not to renew” is essentially the same as dissolving or disbanding.
The committee was on the eve of presenting recommendations to the City Council on solutions to traffic flow on Jackson Street and improved Jitney Service should it be renewed in 2023.
Despite requests for reconsideration by committee members, no one on the council or the Mayor (Tuesday night) explained the committee’s termination.
Even when Councilman Shaine Meier motioned to amend the resolution dissolving the committee, he couldn’t even get a “second” to his motion, even though his amendment would fail.
“I value these volunteers’ time and efforts to solve some of the problems that Cape May has,” Meier said. “As we know, parking is probably the biggest problem in Cape May, as well as traffic and things of that nature. I’d like to see this committee continue to exist.” Shaine Meier said.
But there was silence from the other four members of the council, who ultimately voted 4-1 to support the Mayor in dissolving the committee.
Does Cape May have parking issues?
Advising council that although quiet during the pandemic, it had regrouped in 2022 to develop parking solutions and transportation recommendations for the city. Bonnie Cassells, the committee chair, reminded the council that her group had been doing good work. “I would respectfully request that you allow us to finish the job we were assigned,” Cassells said.
The Parking Advisory Committee provided each Council member with a letter explaining why they should remain in place.
In his message to the committee the week before, the Mayor touted progress already made.
“Obviously we just finished the Parking Lot at the Welcome Center. We are now focused on a larger lot at Lafayette St Park, and would like to work on a surface lot on Pittsburgh Ave.”
Councils that have transformed public input into policymaking. Why dissolve it now?
The slideshow above is a snippet of the presentation the committee was working on before the Cape May City Council disbanded the Parking Advisory Committee.
Perhaps on the eve of making recommendations, the Cape May City Council did not want to talk specifically about Jackson Street.
Indeed, the committee’s suggestions for more loading zones would have alleviated congestion often experienced on that street.
The 47-minute Council meeting was a far contrast to the marathon meetings of the previous administration. Former Councilwoman Stacey Sheehan spoke during the public comment portion defending the committee for which she was the liaison in her tenure on the council.
Still, the move by the council left many scratching their heads and wondering about the motives of the decision unless the outcome is to move to task force style groups, where there is a risk of less transparency.
Shaine Meier vowed to revisit the issue with his resolution at a future meeting.
Read the Municipal Parking Advisory Committee letter to Cape May City Council by clicking here.