Chief Richard Sarlo says, ‘If you park in Knight Park, we will tow your vehicle.’
By Matt Skoufalos
UPDATE: 1:20 p.m., July 2, 2014 – Collingswood Director of Community Development Cassandra Duffey offered a few additional details on the parking changes for the Fourth of July celebration.
Knight Park will be closed to vehicle traffic early Friday morning to prepare for the Fourth of July bicycle, wagon, and stroller parade held that day at 10 a.m.
Limited handicapped parking will be available that is convenient to the day’s events, Duffey said. When the designated spaces fill, that area will become a handicap drop-off point, she said.
Those with questions about special accommodations should contact Carol Sickler at borough hall: 856-854-0720, x125, Duffey said.
She also reinforced the borough position that the road closures are being done to help control the flow of traffic during the celebration.
“We only make these changes because they’re necessary for a safe event,” Duffey said. “We have to manage crowds of thousands of people.
“We’re trying to make the best event possible.”
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Every year, Collingswood welcomes thousands of residents and their guests to a Fourth of July fireworks display billed as one of the best in the area.
With that influx of people typically comes a crush of vehicle traffic and related safety hazards along major roads near Collingswood High School, where the show is held, and next-door Knight Park.
That’s why this year the borough is prohibiting parking in Knight Park and along side streets near the high school--and Collingswood Police have promised to be on the lookout for any spillover effect from that ban.
“We are doing a no-nonsense, no-tolerance policy regarding parking during the Fourth of July,” Collingswood Police Chief Richard Sarlo told NJ Pen.
“We’re breaking a little bit of new ground with this,” Sarlo said.
“Any safety violations from parking will be addressed immediately and swiftly, and that includes towing the vehicles.”
He added that officers will be on the lookout for “any unsafe condition” in which a driver may leave his or her car during the fireworks, and encouraged motorists to heed common sense.
“If you are parked in an area blocking a fire hydrant, a private driveway, or any prohibited area, we plan to have a towing company on standby to impound your vehicle,” Sarlo said.
“If you park in Knight Park, we will tow your vehicle.”
Those violations can add up.
Sarlo said that local parking violations may only cost $19 on the low end, but can increase to anywhere from $34 to $54 for infraction of a state statute.
Collingswood also charges a $35 administrative fee for impounded vehicles, plus the cost of towing and storage from private companies.
“We encourage people to enjoy the fireworks, obviously,” Sarlo said, “but our main thing is to make sure of the safety of not only the people at the fireworks, but the people going to the fireworks, and our residents.”
The chief promised that Collingswood police will be supported by additional officers for traffic and crowd control during the celebration.
“It’s usually gridlock city here,” Sarlo said. “We plan to have officers stationed at different light standards controlling traffic to try to get traffic to flow better out during this whole process.”
The Lumberyard public parking garage, which holds 102 parking spaces, will also be available during the event.
In addition to keeping cars out of Knight Park, the borough is also closing off stretches of road around Collingswood High School during the Fourth of July celebration:
- Collings Avenue from Everett Avenue to Bettlewood Avenue
- Bettlewood Avenue from Collings Avenue to Newton Lake Drive
- Newton Lake Drive from Bettlewood Avenue to Everett Avenue
- Everett Ave from Collings Avenue to Newton Lake Drive
The Collingswood Fourth of July celebration begins at 8 p.m. on Friday, July 4. Doors to the high school stadium open at 6:15 p.m., and the fireworks begin at 9:15 p.m.