As a lifelong Lakewood resident, it’s been stunning to watch our town grow so exponentially in such a short amount of time. It sometimes seems like in the time you can blink, Lakewood went from being a quiet town to a bustling metropolis.
Of course, with the good comes the bad. We have a lot more yiddishe infrastructure now, but we also have a lot more traffic, as well less sense of being part of a close-knit community.
That said, there is one particular refrain that I have been hearing for at least a decade now – “Stop the development!” On its face, the call to stop runaway construction is understandable. Lakewood has gone from having quiet, traversable streets to constant traffic jams as far as the eye can see. But I think everyone is kind of missing the boat here.
Lakewood’s primary problem is not that we have too much development, it’s that we don’t have enough. To be more specific, we have lots of kinds of developments, but they are centered in specific areas. So, for example, we have a whole bunch of schools on Cross Street. What happens? Every morning, Cross Street is jammed. Why? Because everyone is heading to the same places at the same time.
What we need to resolve Lakewood’s congestion and “overdevelopment” is more development that isn’t concentrated in small areas. Most specifically, we need schools spread farther apart.
If everyone is heading to the same place at the same time – and more schools are being added to the same area all the time – there’s no way to improve the congestion issue, no matter how many roadway improvements the town, county, and state make.