Colonia Says No Way to Adding Parkway Exit

 

By KELLY MEHORTER
For Union County HAWK

CLARK — The Clark mayor and council commenced their last regular meeting of the year Monday by congratulating the Clark youth football seventh-grade team for winning the New Jersey Suburban Youth Football League (NJSYFL) national division “Super Bowl” last month and dispelled the chance of a Garden State Parkway exit in neighboring Colonia.

Before Mayor Sal Bonaccorso presented each player with a certificate of achievement, he invited Gus Kalikas, athletic director for Clark public schools and president of Crusader Youth Football, to reflect on the 2022 team’s success.

“Five years ago, there was no Clark youth football. We had about three or four years where football was nonexistent in the town of Clark. We had a flag league that was wonderful, but tackle football was extinct, and it hurt our high-school program,” Mr. Kalikas stated. “If you fast forward, four years later, we had three out of five programs in the Super Bowl, which we hosted this year, and one of them is here as Super Bowl champions and we are extremely, extremely proud of them.”

“This team had a wonderful regular season. They were 5-3 this year in the regular season. One of those losses was a loss to the very team we played in the Super Bowl, Bloomfield. They beat us pretty bad, and a lesser group of young men would have been a little bit intimidated, or maybe would have been nervous in the championship game. But this group put their nose to the grindstone and they just kept working,” Mr. Kalikas stated. “They really flipped the script against Bloomfield in that Super Bowl.”

During the public-comment section of last month’s meeting, former councilman William Caruso, who served on the dais from 1984 to 1994, proposed that the township meet with the Garden State Parkway to see if another exit could be added on Inman Avenue in the Woodbridge section of Colonia in order to alleviate traffic in Clark.

“This is not a new thing,” Mr. Caruso said. “Over 30 years ago, we were discussing the possibility of having another exit on the Garden State Parkway called 135 B.”

“That will not happen,” Mayor Bonaccorso said in response to the idea, stating that a new Parkway exit/entrance would need to be approved by Woodbridge Township Mayor John McCormac, who had stated in years past that he is not in support of the development. Mayor Bonaccorso said at the last meeting that he would ask Mr. McCormac if he would ever agree to a new Parkway exit in Colonia, predicting that “his answer is going to be a flat no,” since it would add traffic to the area.

An email from Mayor McCormac, read by Mayor Bonaccorso at Monday’s meeting, confirmed this sentiment. Mayor McCormac wrote, “We have not heard any serious talks about a Colonia exit/entrance to the Parkway from Inman Avenue in Colonia since around 2000. We were very adamantly opposed to the concept back then, and we remain adamantly opposed to it now. And frankly, if it ever got to the point of being a serious consideration by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which runs the Garden State Parkway, we would do everything in our power to stop the plan dead in its tracks.”

“I am not an engineer, but if the land required was more than just the immediate area, it would threaten St. John Vianney Roman Catholic Church and the elementary school, countless of other additional homes and retail shops,” Mayor McCormac wrote.

In other business, the council adopted an ordinance requiring all community cat caregivers to “make reasonable efforts to have all free-roaming cats within their care sterilized, vaccinated against rabies, microchipped, and ear-tipped for easy identification.” This procedure was inadvertently omitted from the ordinance passed on September 19 that established a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program in Clark.

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