Cranford church proves it’s a good neighbor

Drops parking lot expansion proposal due to complaints

CRANFORD, NJ — Trinity Church of Cranford has revoked its application to expand its parking lot after learning its plans weren’t being supported by a few of its neighbors.

Under the new Rev. Andy Kruger, funds for the parking lot expansion have been redirected to support the church’s facilities and programs at the Trinity Episcopal Day School, located at 119 Forest Ave., Cranford. Church officials plan to use a donation of about 100,000 from parishioner Arthur Patchett to improve the school.

Trinity Episcopal Day School has grown significantly. According to a May 19 press release issued by school officials, its enrollment of 11 in 2011 has grown to more than 140. The school, which is open to children 2-½ years old to 5 years old, uses a standard, approved curriculum that promotes learning through play and has a low student-to-teacher ratio to allow for greater individual attention. The school also offers after-school care for students in first through fifth grades.

“The bathrooms definitely need to be refurbished,” Communications Director Tom Kaercher told LocalSource over the phone on May 23. “We also need additional licensing from the state to begin a new program for toddlers and infants. This will require special facilities in each room,” he said, referring to sinks, changing areas and other alterations.

“We also might offer some tuition assistance. There’s a mix of different things we might do to improve the school as it grows. This is a wonderful change of direction for the money to benefit the children.”

And for now, the parking situation will remain, as the church has shelved its plans to increase the size of the lot from six spaces to 17.

“A few years ago, we thought the parking lot should be expanded because most parents were parking on the street to drop off or pick up their children,” Kaercher said. “The school requires that an adult accompany each child into school and to their car. The church parking lot is very small and can only fit about six cars.”

The church expected their neighbors to support the decision, but feedback from them was negative.

“People were speaking at planning and [the Cranford Episcopal school] board meetings against it,” Karcher said. “Two people even hired attorneys.”
Under Kruger’s direction, the church was inspired to love its neighbor and it withdrew its application to expand the parking lot.

“We’ve had to add more programs to meet the needs of our growing population,” Kaercher said. “We added an aftercare program and a growing summer program with weekly themes. We also had to refurbish the building to meet state requirements.

“With a donation like this, the church won’t have to fund as much and we have significant expenses to handle the infant and toddler population. The early education programs are meant to be educational and they have a developmental component.

“It’s not just daycare or babysitting. We want children to be as prepared as possible when they start kindergarten.”

In the near future, the church board will meet with the reverend and Patchett to decide exactly where the funds should go.