OUR 110th YEAR – ISSUE NO. 33110 FIFTY CENTS (908) 2324407 Thursday, April 20, 2000 USPS 680020 Periodical – Postage Paid at Westfield, N. J. Published Every Thursday
CYAN YELLOW MAGENTA BLACK
Ad Populos, Non Aditus, Pervenimus
A& E............... Page 20 Business ........ Page 17 Classifieds ..... Page 19
County .......... Page 2 Editorial ........ Page 4 Obituary ........ Page 10
Religious ....... Page 11 Social ............ Page 6 Sports ............ Page 13
Animal Activists Stage Protest In Front of Furrier in Westfield
By FRED ROSSI
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
A group of animal rights activists staged a twohour protest last Saturday afternoon in front of La Marqué Fur Salon on East Broad Street in downtown Westfield.
The Oakhurstbased Animal Defense LeagueNew Jersey (ADLNJ), which organized the demonstration, has already held similar rallies in eight other New Jersey communities, and claims responsibility for the recent closing of Oscar Lowey Furs in Metuchen.
“Once people realize what goes into making a fur coat, the opposition really grows,” said ADLNJ’s Darius Fullmer. He told The Westfield Leader that the closing of the Metuchen store, after four protests, came about after the store’s owner “made some offcolor comments about us, to which we responded.”
After the local newspaper there presented both sides’ comments, matters “kind of snowballed,” Mr. Fullmer reported.
Last Saturday, the 14 protesters, watched by a Westfield police officer, stood silently in front of La Marque Fur Salon, distributing literature and holding signs that read, “No Blood For Vanity,” “Fur Is Torture And Death” and “Honk For The Animals,” with a number of passing cars blaring their horns in support.
One signcarrying demonstrator, Charles Bivona, with the New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance in Englishtown, told The Leader he was taking part “because it (the fur industry) is a cruel business.”
Joseph Perna, owner of La Marqué, which is marking its 20th year in
Westfield, told The Leader he “didn’t
CONTINUED ON PAGE 12
MAYOR JARDIM, COUNCILMAN GRUBA NOT SEEKING REELECTION
Jacobson to Oppose McDermott In November Town Mayoral Race
By PAUL J. PEYTON
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
In a somewhat surprise turn of events, Mayor Thomas C. Jardim, first elected in 1996 and the first Democrat to serve in the role in over eight decades, has opted not to seek a third term. The Mayor and his wife, Karen Fountain, are expecting their second child in July.
Mr. Jardim had told The Westfield Leader in February that he had, in fact, intended to run again, with the proposed downtown parking deck as his top priority.
Noting the difficulty in making his decision, Mayor Jardim noted that the “pressures of time are pretty great” between his legal practice with a Newark law firm, coupled with his family commitments. He said the political and business responsibility took him away from home six days a week. Mayor Jardim said he wanted to be “more than a weekend dad.”
So, while he said “there wasn’t anything I wanted to do than run again,” for now he needs to take a break from politics.
“Hopefully, one of these days, I’ll come back,” Mayor Jardim stated.
In his place, the Democrats are putting up former Board of Education President and fourterm board member Susan Jacobson, a 31year resident. Ms. Jacobson, one of the longest serving members in the history of the school board, is employed as Vice President of the Union County Chamber of Commerce. She also heads the Route 22 Chamber, which she helped form a few years ago, and is heading a new group representing homebased businesses with Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Debbie Schmidt.
Ms. Jacobson completed a 12year run on the school board last year. Half of that time she either served as
President or Vice President of the board.
“I’ve just missed that involvement. I’ve felt disconnected,” she told The Westfield Leader.
Ms. Jacobson feels her experience in leading what she said is the state’s sixth largest Chamber combined with her knowledge of community and education issues make her a unique Mayoral candidate. Ms. Jacobson said she was sorry to see Mayor Jardim decide not to seek reelection.
“Tom has done a wonderful job. He has moved this town forward,” she stated.
Ms. Jacobson will be challenged by First Ward Councilman Gregory S. McDermott. Mr. McDermott, the son of former state Senator Frank X. McDermott, is a Vice President of a commercial printing company in Fairfield. Reelected in November, Councilman McDermott is now in his third year on the council.
Mr. McDermott has listed a new longrange capital management plan to preserve the town’s character. He favor a jitney or bus as both the short and longterm solution to Westfield’s commuter parking problems, while acknowledging the need for added capacity. He sees a parking deck as a longrangeproject.
The candidate proposes to develop three, five and 10year capital plans to account for future expenditures including a parking deck, refurbishing Memorial Field and dredging the pond at Tamaques Park.
“Greg brings just the right experience, background and personality to the ticket,” said Westfield Municipal GOP Chairman Robert Cockren.
In addition to Mayor Jardim, veteran Republican Second Ward Councilman James J. Gruba has opted not to seek a fifth term. He chairs the Finance Committee, which leads the council during the annual budget
process. In the first ward, incumbent Democrat firstterm Councilman Carl A. Salisbury, an attorney, will be opposed by Peter M. Echausse, a member of the Recreation Commission and its Pool Committee. He also served on the Westfield Expenditure and Review Commission (WERC) under Mayor Jardim. He also served on Finance Council at Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church.
WERC developed 25 recommendations for improving both the operational and capital side of the town’s municipal budget. He believes both areas should include long range planning of three years ahead.
Mr. Echausse, an eightyear resident, is Vice President and Director at Toronto Dominion Securities in New York City, working as an analyst in leveraged loans of corporate entities.
He has 14 years experience as a credit analyst in the securities industry. Ten of those years were spent directly on municipal finances whereby he reviewed the ability of municipalities to repay bonds.
He was employed for seven years pay attention to what was going on outside” because he was busy selling three garments on Saturday afternoon. He called the size of the demonstration “pretty pathetic,” and said the “propaganda that been distributed” by such groups has been proven to be “all lies.”
He also thanked the local police for containing the gathering, and said
a number of local merchants had come by his store to show support, a
gesture he said he “really appreciated.” Besides Westfield and Metuchen, ADLNJ, which is planning similar protests at 34 additional fur stores across the state, has already held antifur rallies in Paramus, Cherry Hill, Bayonne, Teaneck, Ledgewood and Totowa, in addition to Westfield and Metuchen.
Westfield BOE Election Results:
*Anne Riegel 1800 * Dr. B. Carol Molnar 1589
Kimberly Rhodes 1376 * Michael Kessler 1856 * Thomas Taylor 1132
Peter W. Billson 768 * indicates incumbents
Cheri Rogowsky for The Westfield Leader ANTIQUE EASTER… Bedecked in her Easter bonnet, this bunny is offered the arm of her male counterpart dressed in a smart Easter suit. The rabbits are displayed at The Golden Bee antique shop in Westfield.
William A. Burke for The Westfield Leader DOWNTOWN PROTEST… Animal rights activists gathered on Saturday in front of La Marqué Fur Salon on East Broad Street to protest the store’s fur merchandise.
Ingrid McKinley for The Westfield Leader ICED TEA FOR SALE… A rite of entrepreneurial passage for children is the traditional beverage stand. Seven vendors tried to make some money during a beautiful day in Westfield by selling cool cups of iced tea for a mere 25 cents.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 12
VOTERS APPROVE BOE BUDGET
Riegel, Molnar, Rhodes and Kessler
Savor Victories By MICHELLE H. LePOIDEVIN
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
Success couldn’t smell sweeter for incumbents Anne L. Riegel and Dr. B. Carol Molnar, along with newcomer Kimberly Rhodes, who defeated incumbent Thomas Taylor and firsttime candidate Peter W. Billson for threeyear terms on the Westfield Board of Education. Michael J. Kessler, who ran unopposed for a oneyear seat, was also victorious.
According to the Office of the Municipal Clerk in Westfield, 2,685 out of 11,450 registered voters, or 23 percent, turned out for Tuesday’s election.
Voters also gave the school district’s $57.2 million budget a hearty thumbs up, with 1,824 votes in favor of the spending plan and 821 votes against it.
Approval of the budget will incur a tax levy of $48.2 million. The impact for Westfield’s property taxes will be $157 a year on a home assessed at $174,000, the average assessment in Westfield. The spending plan will result in a 9 cent increase in the school tax rate, from $2.63 to $2.72.
The school budget includes several initiatives:
·Computers for thirdgrade classrooms districtwide, at a cost of $131,902.
·Replacement of computer labs at Roosevelt and Edison Intermediate Schools and the mathematics labs at Westfield High School.
·Providing 130 teachers at the high school with laptop computers, at a cost of $163,000. Teachers will eventually obtain email addresses that will make the staff accessible 24 hours per day to parents and other staff members. Future plans call for teachers to list assignments and other class requirements on their own personal Web sites.
Tuesday’s election revealed a grand total of 1,800 votes for Mrs. Riegel, with Dr. Molnar receiving 1,589 votes and Ms. Rhodes earning a total of 1,376 votes. Mr. Taylor took 1,132 votes, while Mr. Billson captured 768 votes.
Mr. Kessler, who decided in February to opt for a oneyear instead of a threeyear term, received 1,856 votes.
When telephoned about his successful run for the school board seat, Mr. Kessler told The Westfield Leader,
“I appreciate all of the voters that voted for me. I accept those votes as a vote of confidence in the way the board is working.”
When called about her victory, Mrs. Riegel stated, “I thank the community
for all of their support and for voting for the budget.”
Looking ahead to future issues she would like to focus on, Mrs. Riegel said, “We will be very busy dealing with the enrollment needs at the high school and the alternatives for that issue.”
“I’m honored that the people of Westfield have chosen me to represent them on the Board of Education,” stated Ms. Rhodes. “I am very committed to public education and look forward to working with the other board members as we focus on the needs of the district.
“I fully support continuing efforts by the board to address the overcrowding at the high school. I hope to participate in the district’s efforts to phase in its elementary foreign language program and the selection of a K8 math program,” she added.
“I am very interested in the condition of our schools and expect to play an active role in facilities maintenance. People wishing to contact me may call me at (908) 2325104, fax me at (908) 2325939 or email me at krhodes@ home. com.
Despite telephone and email attempts, Dr. Molnar could not be reached for comment.
In an early morning interview yesterday, Mr. Taylor told The Leader he was pleased the district’s budget
CONTINUED ON PAGE 12
Council Hears Pros and Cons
On Pkg. Deck By PAUL J. PEYTON
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
From purchasing privately owned land on the south side of town to paving over the Elm Street athletic field for additional parking, residents and downtown property owners voiced their views — both pro and con — during a spirited Town Council hearing on a proposed comprehensive downtown parking plan.
At the center of the plan is at least one, if not two, parking decks costing in the range of $10-$ 16 million. Building two decks is estimated to cost about $20 million total.
Town Administrator Thomas B. Shannon said the tax impact for one deck would be between 0 and 2 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, or $40 a year on the average assessed home of $174,000, with two decks costing five cents per $100 assessed or $100 annually after five years.
Those numbers take into account the fact the town will retire the 15year bond for the construction on the Westfield Memorial Library, currently a $600,000 plus annual expenditure.
Third Ward Councilman Neil F. Sullivan said town officials must also look at the fact that up to $800,000 in parking revenue from parking permits and revenues and $100,000 for parking tickets would be moved from the town budget to the operational budget of a deck. He said that equals over four tax points the council must calculate when formulating future municipal budgets.
Mr. Shannon explained that Rich & Associates of Michigan has proposed two decks, one at the South Avenue train station lot, known as Lot 3A, and a second lot, at Lot 1 on Prospect Avenue. The South Avenue deck would be primarily for commuters with the Prospect lot on the north side for downtown employees.
The Lot 3A deck of 550 spaces would add 400 spaces to the downtown, with the Prospect Avenue deck of 490 spaces adding 370 spaces to the north side business district.
Peter Davidson of Carlton Road said if the town only builds one deck and locates it on South Avenue, “That just doesn’t seems to be what we want in town.” He said it seemed as though the Parking Task Force, consisting of town, council and downtown officials, of “steering” the issue to place the deck on the south side.
Mayor Thomas C. Jardim, who served on the committee, said the committee worked with the consultant whose report showed an addition of 370 spaces was needed on both sides of town. He said a deck on Lot 3A was listed as the top choice for a facility.
Mayor Jardim said the committee’s focus was to see if one deck could solve a lack of commuter and downtown employee parking. Mr. Davidson told the mayor that the South Avenue lot will not solve both problems.
In response to Mr. Davidson’s concerns on the north side parking crunch, Fourth Ward Councilwoman Janis Fried Weinstein, explained that as of May 1, employees with current parking permits will be required to park at the South Avenue lot on Satur
Page 12 Thursday, April 20, 2000 The Westfield Leader and THE TIMES of Scotch Plains – Fanwood A WATCHUNG COMMUNICATIONS, INC. PUBLICATION
CYAN YELLOW MAGENTA BLACK with Standard & Poors and three years
with Merrill Lynch. With S& P he analyzed bonds issued by the cities of Atlanta, Boston and Charlotte, N. C. and the states of Delaware and Georgia in addition to reviewing bonded debt of counties, municipalities and school districts.
The candidate’s father is a threeterm councilman in the Village of Westbury, Long Island. His mother has been a teacher for 25 years on Long Island.
Mr. Echausse said he would like the Pocket Park grant monies to be expanded from active to passive parks. He also favors increasing funding for the town’s new sidewalk repair and replacement program to offer more financial help to senior citizens who may not be able to pickup half of the costs as included in the program. He would like the program to include sidewalk repairs for streets that do not have sidewalks.
Noting his past volunteer experiences with the town, he said, “The people in Westfield are very involved in all aspects of the town and given my experience, I’d like take that to the next level.”
Mr. Salisbury released a detailed letter to council members and has started an email newsletter with several hundred residents concerning the town budget process. He has said that if the municipal budget continues to grow, the town’s financial flexibility could be hurt due to the political backlash. He believes taxes should be looked at over the course of 15 years.
In the second ward, Democrat and local attorney William B. Ziff will face Republican opposition from Westfield Municipal Prosecutor Rafael Betancourt, an attorney in Cranford.
His law practice, Ziff and Ziff, dates back to 1890 when it was founded in Jersey City. The candidate practiced for many years in the firm with his father.
Incumbent Democrat Claire Lazarowitz will go up against Republican foe Karen M. Trzesniowski in the Third Ward. The challenger is a legal secretary with a title insurance and mortgage lending background. Ms. Lazarowitz is a fitness instructor and personal exercise trainer.
After losing a close race to Third Ward Councilman Neil F. Sullivan in November, Ms. Lazarowitz was named to the council by the local Democratic Party to replace John J. Walsh upon his resignation from the governing body in January. She heads the Public Works Committee.
Incumbent twoterm Democrat Lawrence A. Goldman, an attorney in Newark and Chairman of the Laws and Rules Committee, will face Republican Gerald P. Boyle in the fourth ward race. Mr. Boyle, a lifelong Westfielder, spent most of his career with Meeker Sharkey and has experience in financial services and personal investments.
Mr. Cockren said Texas Governor and Presidential candidate George W. Bush and the local popularity of Senate candidate Bob Franks, if he wins the June Primary, will only benefit local Republican candidates efforts in November.
Mr. Ziff, an attorney with a private practice on Elm Street representing insurance companies and their insurers, moved to Westfield from Jersey City with his family five years ago. He has an undergraduate degree in history from American University in Washington D. C. and a master’s from Tulane University, New Orleans, in urban studies.
He once served as an intern with the New Orleans Mayor’s office in the areas of economic development and consumer affairs. He received his law degree from the Delaware Law School.
“I’ve been impressed from the first day I came to Westfield,” he said. “I’m just impressed with the town, its location.” He said as a council member he would like to work to maintain the vitality and character of the central business district and its position as a metropolitan shopping center near New York City.
Speaking of the Republican candidates, Mr. Cockren said he is optimistic that the GOP can win the mayor’s race while picking up some council seats at the same time.
“I think we have a terrific ticket with diversified backgrounds,” Mr. Cochren told The Leader.
Westfield Republicans have a 54 edge on the governing body, including a 53 majority on the council.
Schaumberg, Geiger Apparent Winners In Mtside BOE Race
By KIM KINTER
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
MOUNTAINSIDE – Although the $9,077,471 Mountainside school district budget for 20002001 was overwhelmingly approved by voters Tuesday night, with a vote of 802 to 295, the results of the school board race were less definite.
The threeperson board race was marked from the start by controversy over the last minute filing for candidacy by former board member Patricia Knodel, following incumbent Linda Esemplare’s unexpected decision not to run.
In response, MaryBeth Schaumberg joined the race as a writein candidate. Frank Geiger, an incumbent, also ran for one of the two available seats.
Initially on Tuesday night, Mrs. Schaumberg and Mr. Geiger were seen as the clear winners, with Mr. Geiger getting 906 votes, Mrs. Schaumberg, 813 and Mrs. Knodel, 396, according to unofficial totals from Mountainside Borough Clerk Judith E. Osty.
Yesterday morning, however, the clerk said she had more time to review the votes and noticed that more than half the writein votes – 469 — were written on a “line” opposing Mr. Geiger.
She viewed those votes strictly as opposition to Mr. Geiger and said she was uncertain whether they should be counted in Mrs. Schaumberg’s total. If those votes were not counted in the total, Mrs. Knodel would receive 396 and Mrs. Schaumberg would receive only 344.
Ms. Osty said it was not her job to declare a winner and referred all questions regarding certification of the vote
count to the Union County Clerk. The clerk’s office yesterday morning had just begun looking at the Mountainside votes and was not expected to have certified numbers until later in the week.
Despite the uncertainty by the clerk of the total votes and how the writeins should be counted, Mrs. Schaumberg viewed herself as having won and Mrs. Knodel felt certain she had lost the school board election.
Mrs. Knodel, who had served on the board for 26 years prior to her defeat in the 1998 election, said, “I knew from the outset I would not win because I understand the political mass.” She was referring to the public reaction to her lastminute filing for candidacy.
She said, however, that she enjoyed her 26 years on the board and hoped that Mr. Geiger and Mrs. Schaumberg would have the same positive experience.
Mrs. Schaumberg said she was “excited and thrilled, but wasn’t surprised” that she had done so well at the polls.
She said she and her campaign workers realized that it would be an “uphill battle” being a writein candidate. In order to vote for a writein candidate, residents must follow a number of steps, including typing in the name and hitting “Enter” in order for the vote to be registered.
Mrs. Schaumberg’s campaign printed 3,000 socalled palm cards that gave explicit instructions on how to vote for a writein candidate. Her campaign received the approval of the Union County Board of Elections to allow voters to carry the cards into the booth.
Mother, Three Daughters Escape From House Blaze
By KIM KINTER
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
WESTFIELD A Westfield mother and her three daughters safely escaped a fire on the afternoon of April 12 that resulted in heavy damage to the exterior of their home.
Westfield Deputy Fire Chief Raymond Luck said the blaze began at about 3: 28 p. m. in some bushes by the side of the house at 419 North Scotch Plains Avenue and quickly climbed up the wood frame exterior.
Two Westfield Fire Department engines and a ladder truck responded and extinguished the blaze within
Rescue Squad Continuing Fund Drive Through April
WESTFIELD — The Westfield Volunteer Rescue Squad is continuing its annual fund drive through the month of April to ensure that rescue squad personnel are provided with proper equipment, training and facilities for their daytoday operations.
As of the end of March, there has been a significant drop in donations to the rescue squad, according to squad spokesman Richard Jackson.
This year, there is an increased need for donations from Westfield residents and businesses to the squad, which is funded entirely by private donations.
Equipment and materials used by the squad continues to rise in cost and quantity, Mr. Jackson revealed. He noted that lifesaving equipment, such as semiautomatic defibrillators, can cost thousands of dollars.
The New Jersey State Department of Health and Senior Services, which regulates emergency services throughout the state, provides funds for the training of volunteers. However, only a certain amount of training is paid for.
If additional levels of training are desired by the emergency medical technicians of the Westfield Volunteer Rescue Squad, then the squad must provide those funds, according to Mr. Jackson.
In addition to required recertification, training needed to provide patient care includes emergency vehicle operations, prehospital trauma life support, awareness of tuberculosis and bloodborne pathogens, and recentlyincreased preparedness for any terrorist threat that could occur, producing mass casualties.
The maintenance and upkeep of the squad building and utilities, located at 335 Watterson Street, continues to rise in cost, Mr. Jackson maintained. Because the unit is a resident squad, the scheduled crew remains available from the building during both daytime and overnight shifts.
Built in 1951, with additional construction in 1977, the building and grounds need constant renovations and improvements due to the increase in call volume and 24hour staffing, Mr. Jackson said.
The squad expressed its gratitude to those who have already given to the 2000 Fund Drive. Others may still make taxdeductible contributions to: The Westfield Volunteer Rescue Squad, P. O. Box 356, Westfield, 070910356.
For more information about volunteering with the Westfield Volunteer Rescue Squad, please call (908) 2332500. For all emergency services, please call 911.
Courtesy of the Westfield Fire Department
FIRE ESCAPE… A mother and her three daughters safely escaped a fire on the afternoon of April 12 that resulted in heavy damage to the exterior of their home at 419 North Scotch Plains Avenue. According to Westfield Deputy Fire Chief Raymond Luck, the blaze began at about 3: 28 p. m. in some bushes by the side of the house.
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 passed and he is “very happy for everyone who won.” He noted that he has faith that the victors will do a “fabulous job.”
“Obviously, I’m disappointed that I didn’t win because of the opportunities I would have had to serve the school board, but I thank all of the people who supported me,” remarked Mr. Billson.
“I congratulate Anne, Kim, Carol and Mike. They ran a very highroad, issueoriented campaign,” added the former candidate.
When asked if he would ever consider running again for a position on the school board, Mr. Billson said, “It takes a lot of effort to run and I met a lot of neat people. I’ve gained a new appreciation for mailmen and candidates in general by walking around town distributing flyers.”
However, the issues and candidates involved in the next election would be the factors Mr. Billson would weigh if he chose to run again.
School Board Election
Ingrid McKinley for The Westfield Leader WAITING TO VOTE... Lines of Mountainside voters wait their turn at Deerfield School for the opportunity to cast votes in the school board election held Tuesday.
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
five minutes. The exterior, however, retained extensive damage and the interior had water and smoke damage.
The mother, Sylvia Aliche, and her daughters were at home at the time and escaped without injury, but were unable to occupy the house for the next two days, Deputy Chief Luck said.
He said that some of the occupants of the house heard a “crackling” noise outside the house and discovered the fire.
The Deputy Chief said that fire investigators have been unable to pinpoint an exact cause of the blaze.
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
days only. She said that move will free up some 250 prime shopping parking spaces on the north side of town.
A Grove Street resident questioned building a deck on the South Avenue lot, which she said is only half full most days.
Town Clerk Bernard A. Heeney explained that the town currently oversells its permit lots by 40 percent to increase usage.
The resident, a commuter, also questioned a proposal to raise permit fees. Mayor Jardim said the fees are really user fees and need to be increased to help fund a deck. Fees were increased at commuter lots in 1998.
Mr. Sullivan told The Westfield Leader he plans to introduce a budget amendment to use the $110,000 he estimates the town now makes in additional permit fees from the 1998 increase for the purpose of funding a jitney bus for commuters. He said that motion will be made at the council’s municipal budget hearing on Tuesday, May 9. The council rejected a previous request in a 54 vote.
Ann Davidson of Carlton Road suggested that the town use bar codes and other electronic methods to better manage the town’s parking system.
A St. Claire Place resident said he does not believe a deck will solve the town’s parking crunch, noting people will still wind up applying for a waiting list for a deck.
He viewed placement of a deck behind East Broad Street stores, such as Baron’s pharmacy, as a better idea.
Officials said the consultant determined that in order to do that enough room to allow truck deliveries would be necessary. They said that would reduce the number of spaces in the deck below what is needed on the north side.
First Ward Councilman Carl Salisbury, Chairman of the Transportation, Traffic and Parking Committee and a member of the Task Force, said there were some concerns about placing a parking facility opposite the Revolution Cemetery on Mountain Avenue.
Resident John Lambert asked if any consideration had been given to purchasing a property currently occupied by a muffler shop and gas station on the south side.
Mayor Jardim said he believes such a move would be the “wrong direction” to take since it would take existing tax ratables off the books.
The Downtown Westfield Corporation, represented by Board of Directors Chairman Douglas Schwartz, came out in favor of building two decks.
“The Downtown Westfield Corporation believes that the best solution is for the Town of Westfield to construct tiered parking within the Special Improvement District,” he said in a prepared statement.
“The Town of Westfield should construct two decks, one on municipal parking Lot 1 the second on municipal parking Lot 3A. These two tiered parking facilities should be designed in such a way as to minimize their size and make them attractive complements to the downtown area. The two decks should be constructed in conjunction with other aspects of the Comprehensive Parking Plan such as full time parking management,” Mr. Schwartz said in his statement.
The DWC believes a downtown “parking crisis” was created due to “intense competition of shoppers, downtown employees and commuters for limited parking within a small geographic area.”
Resident Frank Weiss addressed his concerns over the impact a deck could have on the character of the surrounding neighborhood. He said once a deck is built it will change the town forever.
If a deck is built, it should be on north side, William J. Neill, Jr. of Manchester Drive told the council. He opposed a South Avenue lot, stating it would not help with north side parking concerns such as those for shoppers.
Former councilman and mayoral contender Norman Greco of Lincoln Road, a downtown business owner, recommended the town consider utilizing athletic fields adjacent to the Elm Street school district administration building for a 300 plus space surface parking lot.
He suggested that to make up for the loss of the fields, two fields could be added to a small section of Brightwood Park, a natural setting in town. He said a surface lot on the Elm fields would lessen the tax burden on residents by eliminating the need for a parking deck.
Former Mayor Bud Boothe said the school district is not likely to give up the land, claiming they will say it is needed for educational purposes. He said the Trader Joe’s lot on Elm Street should be considered. He said the retail space could be factored into the design of the facility.
Another resident said a deck would produce a lighting problem especially on South Avenue where it would be near a residential area.
Resident Carol Cohen, in support of a deck and citing numerous studies over the years, told the council, “It is time to stop studying and start doing.”
Downtown property owner Joe Goodman said the council should look to the City of Summit to see how its parking decks have impacted its parking situation.
Warren Rorden, who operated a realty office for many years on Elm Street, said “What we need is a parking deck. Build it and they will come.”
If the council opts to build a deck and bond the project, the elective body could either put it before voters as a referendum or take the matter into its own hands as a bond ordinance.
Jacobsen to Face Opposition From McDermott for Mayor
Council Hears Pros, Cons Regarding Parking Deck County Mayors Discuss
Impact State Control of School Funding Would Have
By PAUL J. PEYTON
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
CRANFORD — Just days before the school elections, local mayors and council members discussed several options that have been considered to reduce the burden of school budgets on property taxpayers.
During last Saturday morning’s meeting of the Union County League of Municipalities, officials shared their views on whether more state involvement for funding public schools was the best solution.
Joseph Florio, a Union Township Councilman, said he believes local property taxes ensure that school districts have control over the education of their children.
“When it’s local it’s tough but at least you control your own destiny,” Mr. Florio stated.
Fanwood Councilman Joel Whitaker explained that the “inevitable result of moving school funding out of the property taxes” would be that county school boards would take control of local districts. He said this would cause a deterioration in local districts, adding that the districts would be abolished and replaced with a county system. Such a system, he anticipated, would be less responsive than local districts are today.
Scotch Plains Mayor Martin L. Marks noted that there are 600 school districts in the state. He said New Jersey’s cost for educating students is the highest in the nation.
Westfield Mayor Thomas C. Jardim said some senior citizens in the municipality were paying as much as $11,000 in property taxes with no kids in the public schools, forcing them to move out of town. They have been replaced by young couples with children, which has put a strain on the local school system.
He said this spiral of local taxes will continue “until at some point, we have to inevitably say, ‘this is the incorrect way to fund our local school system. ’”
Mr. Whitaker said one of the main issues in the Scotch PlainsFanwood district is funding special education students. He noted that the average cost in the district is $50,000 per student.
He said more state funding in this area “would immensely ease the burden on funding property taxes, at least here in Fanwood, and I presume in Scotch Plains also.”
Mr. Whitaker said the state needs to pick up the cost of mandated programs, such as the new world language program.
On another hot issue, local officials said New Jersey’s elected officials in Washington and Trenton and local representatives need to urge Washington to amend legislation which will cause serious funding problems in transporting patients.
As part of the 1997 federal Balanced Budget Act, the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) developed a new, national Medicare/ Ambulance Fee Schedule aimed at reducing expenses. Under the new rules, the Medicare reimbursement rate for advanced life support (ALS), which are hospitalbased paramedics, may be cut in half.
Paramedics attend to victims of heart attacks and other serious medical problems but do not transport patients. That is done by volunteer rescue squads which also provide basic life support (BLS), thus saving New Jersey millions of dollars a year.
State Assemblyman Alan M. Augustine has proposed legislation urging the HCFA to allow paramedics to bill under a Medicare
Plan A program with paid rescue squads charging for transportation services under a Medicare Plan B plan.
The Union County League of Municipalities received a legislative update from Barbara Hall, President of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, during its meeting.
She said Leagues of Municipalities were formed in general as a “forum for municipal officials to come together to exchange ideas” on issues.
The state League, which was founded in 1917, dealt with such bacterial reductions and sewerage treatment, a model system for garbage collection and the question over public or private ownership of water, gas and electric utilities.
Speaking on issues today, Ms. Hall, a former Chatham Borough Mayor, said that at the federal level, Senator John McCain (RArk.) has introduced S2255 as an amendment to the Internet Tax Freedom Act.
The amendment extends the moratorium on taxing purchases on the Internet through calendar year 2006. Congress had originally exempted purchases via the Internet from state sales taxes for three years, ending in 2003. Ecommerce is a $300 billion industry.
A summary of the legislation states that electronic commerce conducted via the Internet should not be burdened by national or local regulation, taxation, or the imposition of tariffs on such commerce.
At the state level, Ms. Hall, answering an inquiry from Scotch Plains Councilwoman Geri M. Samuel, noted that a bill requiring impact fees on developers is still under discussion.
There was also discussion regarding Metricom Inc. ’s effort to install a small device on street lamps for high speed mobile Internet and email access.
Mr. Whitaker said the borough has agreed to the proposal, although no contracts have been signed. Westfield has also been approached. Thus far, Winfield Park is the only Union County town that has actually signed a contract.
Municipal approval is required, since the public rightofway is needed for Metricom to operate the system.
Mayor Jardim questioned the impact on other companies selling the same service who may also want to install similar transmitters.
Mayor Marks said he believes it may not be possible to place two transmitters on the same lamp post.
On another matter, it was announced that the Firefighter Investment and Response Enhancement Act, sponsored by Congressman Bill Pascrell (D8th), was the subject of a Congressional hearing.
The bill would authorize $5 billion in competitive grants to fire departments over five years. The funding would pay for such things as training, personal protective equipment, communications, apparatus, certification of fire inspectors, wellness and fitness programs, Emergency Medical Services expenses, infrastructure modification, personnel, fire prevention programs and public education.
In addition to the Mayors of Westfield, Scotch Plains, Winfield Park and Roselle Park, council members from Garwood, Roselle, Union, Cranford and Springfield were in attendance. In order for the League to officially meet, a quorum of eight member communities is needed.
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