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David B. Corbin
The Westfield Leader
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The Official Newspaper of the Town of Westfield and the County of Union Official Newspaper of the Borough of Fanwood
and the Township of Scotch Plains
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Westfield, N. J. 07091 P. O. Box 368 • 1906 Bartle Avenue Scotch Plains, N. J. 07076
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Michelle H. LePoidevin
A& E and EDUCATION
A recent report by the Edward J. Bloustein School of Policy and Planning at Rutgers University detailed the dramatic economic turnaround in Union County over the past five years. After decades of job losses and high unemployment, the county has rebounded, with more jobs, more opportunities for residents.
For instance: • Since 1995, the county has gained back more than 6,455 jobs, after two decades of job losses.
• Union County’s unemployment rate, at 3.8 percent, is on par with the state average, and is much lower than unemployment in neighboring Essex County (4.6 percent) and Hudson County (5.8 percent).
• Since 1995 personal income in Union County increased by more than 12 percent, while it increased statewide by 10 percent.
According to the report, part of the county’s success story in the past five years has been due to changes in our economy — a shift from a manufacturing economy to sectors with more stability — particularly, service retail and transportation.
In fact, transportation is a key to the county’s economy. In the past five years, Union County has become a center of global transportation, as Port Elizabeth and Newark International Airport become inter
"COMMENTING ON UNION COUNTY"
By DANIEL P. SULLIVAN
Chairman – Union County Board of Freeholders
Modernization, Upkeep Essential For Union County Road Network
national cargo hubs. County and local governments worked with businesses to protect the network of rail, air, maritime and road systems that converges in Union County.
However, as this network ages, we must ensure that it meets the growing needs of not only a regional economy, but an international economy. The county is working hard to modernize and improve this network.
NewarkElizabeth Rail Link
Union County is pursuing the first phase of the NewarkElizabeth Rail Link, that would, in its early stages, provide light rail service between Newark and Elizabeth, and eventually move west to link the rest of the county to this highgrowth area The link will connect residents to Newark Airport, Jersey Gardens Mall and the retail centers at Exit 13A of the New Jersey Turnpike, Port Elizabeth and eventual ferry service to Manhattan.
We are near completion of reports on the environmental impact of the NewarkElizabeth Rail Link, and we are awaiting federal funds to continue the first leg of this project. It has already received promises of more than $30 million in federal support.
Port Elizabeth/ Airport
Port Elizabeth is important to all residents of Union County, as an economic engine responsible for some 80,000 jobs in this region and billions of dollars in international trade.
After years of neglect and stalling by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which manages the area, we have finally seen construction begin on North Avenue in Port Elizabeth, a vital roadway for trucks and employees there. This has been a great concern to us for transportation and safety reasons.
We are still concerned about the need to extend the proposed light rail system into the airport and about linking the light rail system to employee parking. We are also concerned about negotiating a more equitable agreement for the City of Elizabeth, which hosts both the airport and the seaport. Currently the city receives $63,000 per year for the 2,050 acres used by the Port Authority, while Newark receives $69 million annually for the 2,100 acres the authority uses.
Finally, we need to find a resolution on the development of the 1,777acre Allied Signal property in the port area, one of the largest unused spaces there and a property that could be a major engine for fixture jobs and economic opportunity. The Port Authority has suggested using the property for a parking lot and training facility, but it is prime real estate, in great demand, for other uses that would generate more jobs and economic activity.
Development in Linden
In the City of Linden, we have worked with the New Jersey Turnpike Authority to develop a design for truck access lane from the turnpike directly into the fastgrowing Tremley Point industrial area. The state is now assessing this project and we look forward to working with them to make this project come to pass.
We were also pleased to see the ongoing construction at the Linden Airport Plaza. This project would generate hundreds of jobs and provide much needed meeting space along the fastgrowing Routes 1 & 9 corridor. It is a good example of what happens when business work together will all levels of government.
Finally we are proud to have seen many of the socalled “brownfields” in Union County, abandoned, unused sites, being used to generate jobs and tax dollars for their municipalities. The best known are the IKEA and Jersey Gardens sites, which were once part of the Elizabeth landfill. Recently, Union County has received a $200,000 grant from the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency for remediation of “brownfield” sites along the Raritan Valley Line in Hillside and Plainfield. We have identified three sites in each community, and we hope that improvement of these properties leads to further improvements and development along the line in these towns.
Transportation is the key to Union County’s economy and to our economic turnaround, and by laying the tracks to this county, we are bringing in new businesses, jobs and prosperity for residents.
Some words explode onto the national consciousness with such force that one becomes convinced that they will never disappear. Beatnik is such a word. It was coined to describe a subculture of the 1950’s While we can accurately trace its origin, it is difficult to explain why the word all but disappeared.
Beatnik started with a newspaper article in 1952 in which Jack Kerouac wrote, “This is the beat generation.” He claims to have derived it from beatific, a word meaning “showing or producing exalted joy or blessedness.” Beatific combines the Latin elements beare, to bless, and facere, to make; literally meaning “to make blessed.” The beat generation is defined as super cool collegeage youth repelled by war, materialism, the atomic age and so on.
On April 2, 1958, columnist Herb Caen coined the term beatnik in his column in the San Francisco Chronicle. Mr. Caen took Beat, to which he added the -nik ending to create beatnik. The -nik suffix was inspired by sputnik, the first man made satellite launched by the Russians in 1957. In Russian, -nik means, “one who” and was faddishly added to many words during that period.
English speaking people are fickle, and beatnik gave way to hippie, another hip subculture of the 1960’s.
Sidewalk of Goose Droppings Turns Morning Walk into Obstacle Course
Endless excrement from those pesky geese in Mindowaskin Park have made my morning walks around Mountain Avenue and East Broad Street comparable to stepping through a landmine. Swerving and stumbling down the sidewalk just to dodge those droppings makes me look like I accidentally added vodka to my breakfast orange juice.
Just last week, I was walking with a colleague, enjoying a little window shopping and admiring the sweet children in their strollers, when he cautioned with an alarmed voice, “Watch out! You’re going to step in it!” The “it” is universal term here in town, code for that nasty smelling, green, squishy pellet that repeats itself anywhere near Mindowaskin.
Gross. Even more disgusting is the havoc the geese droppings reek on your shoes if you do, perchance, find yourself stepping in the wrong place. Wouldn’t it look a little bizarre if I chose to wear galoshes walking to work instead of sandals in the summer, just so that my white shoes don’t turn green?
As a last ditch effort, I implore my feathered friends to consider where they make their deposits. I’m not going to ask Town Council to install miniature toilets for the geese, but the sidewalks need to be cleared of this refuse.
After all, what may be good for the goose won’t let me meander.
A Big, WellDeserved ‘Thank You’ For Rec. Department’s Play Program
The Westfield Recreation Department’s summer play program has just concluded. It offered nearly two months of daylong diversion to Westfield youngsters of first grade age and up, and it was a godsend for Westfield’s parents and children.
It is a unique blessing of our town to have the grounds, the people, and the willingness to offer this program entirely for free. It runs every weekday, generally from 9 a. m. to 3: 45 p. m., with a break for athome lunch. Some days offered picnics, hot dog and marshmallow roasts, and s’mores assembly.
Some days, the counselors put together special arts and crafts projects for the kids.
Mondays were generally devoted to allday swims and lunches at the Municipal Pool. There were “Olympic” competitions in various events, like kickball, softball, and wall ball. Perennial playground favorites included tether ball, running bases, and knock hockey.
The Westfield Leader and The Times of Scotch PlainsFanwood has published stories throughout the
summer about the fun and games at the play program. The Recreation Department deserves our thanks, as do the counselors and cocounselors who made the program work. These employees, barely beyond high school age, displayed devotion, care, and energy, together with maturity and patience well beyond their years.
They included: Shawn Feeney, Tom Murch, Kate Guildea, Tova Felder, Noel Fahey, Priscilla Mann, Ruby Petterway, Katy Brunetto, Erin McClellan, Jackie Cusimano, Rich Hatfield, Michael Stanley, Elizabeth Eyring, Elisa Cognetti, Will Cashman, Ryuichi Saito, Kurt Schoenberg, Dreena Whitfield, Sara Guerin, Jeffrey Henoch, Bill Steinfeld, Laura MacNeil, Meghann McMahon, Katie Egan, Melissa Greenwald, Earl Lambert, Thomas O’Connell, C. J. Dodge, Carl BarberSteele, and Ken Fairfax.
Thank you, all.
Letters to the Editor
Don’t Move SPF FifthGraders To Middle School Environment
Council President Doesn’t Understand Questions Over Reimbursing Volunteers
At the Fanwood Council meeting on August 10th, Council President Joel Whitaker accused the Democrats of politicizing the issues surrounding reimbursement of expenses. This defensive posture demonstrates that he just doesn’t understand the points being made.
Over the course of the last several months, it has become clear that Fanwood needs to adopt an administrative policy for reimbursing ex penses incurred by volunteers performing
work on behalf of the borough. In fact, the council is currently working on defining what expenses are reimbursable, setting appropriate limits for various types of expenses, and how expenses will be authorized and approved for payment.
This is probably something that should have been done long ago, but it has not become a need until the current administration took office this year.
The lack of policy in this area came to light when Councilwoman Cindy Swindlehurst questioned hundreds of dollars in expenses submitted to her for approval by one volunteer on the Fanwood Downtown Revitalization Committee (FDRC). Being recently appointed to the council, Ms. Swindlehurst wanted to understand what these expenses were for, who authorized this volunteer to incur these expenses, and what the proper procedure was for reviewing and approving expense reports before she agreed to signoff on them.
When she raised these questions at a previous council meeting, the council agreed that there really weren’t any guidelines currently in place. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the appropriateness of these expenses, the lack of policy, or the fact that these expenses were never budgeted, another council member approved payment without consulting with Ms. Swindlehurst.
In a year when local property taxes have skyrocketed (in large part due to increased school costs), the council should be working to keep borough expenses down.
This is exactly what Ms. Swindlehurst has been trying to do in this case. Instead, the present administration has increased spending to a point where there is no money left in certain accounts, even though additional expenses continue to accrue.
When questioned about this by Councilwoman Swindlehurst and members of the public, the Council President rebuked that it was nothing more than a political ploy by those running against him for office. He just doesn’t get it.
Matthew Glennon Council Candidate
This is a plea for the Scotch PlainsFanwood Board of Education to rethink the plan to move fifth graders to the Middle School.
I know much hard work has been put into the SPF BOE plan for construction and reorganization of our school system in light of growing enrollment. It has now been shown that the plan will be much more expensive than originally thought, even after the B. O. E. reassessed the project.
At the same time, the New Jersey Legislature has approved the “Education Facilities Construction and Financing Act” making monies available for certain school construction projects. Maybe this would be a good time to step back from the entire plan and rethink what is best for our children and then see if reasonable financing is available through the bond issue and government funds.
I think fifth graders should have that final year as leaders in their elementary schools, enjoying the status they’ve earned, continuing their intellectual growth and, most important, giving them time to ready themselves for the next phase of social, emotional and physical development.
Children rely on us to provide safe, supportive environments with slowly increasing independence to help them mature into responsible adults. We bemoan those family problems (divorce, illness, other family stresses) that force children to grow up too soon and fear that outside influences (peer pressure, media, etc.) will do the same.
Let’s give our children the gift of fifth grade leadership in elementary school and the time to fully prepare for the middle school environment. We are one school community, so let’s do what’s good for all our children. My husband is a sociologist and educator and heartily agrees.
The B. O. E. wants to know what the community thinks prior to the
vote on the bond. If your readers agree with me, I hope they would feel free to send a copy of this letter, with their comments, or their own letter, to Dr. Carol B. Choye, Superintendent of Schools, Scotch PlainsFanwood Board of Education, Evergreen Avenue and Cedar Street, Scotch Plains, NJ 07076.
Gloria Yakre Scotch Plains
Parking, Traffic and Financing: Is It An Issue of Supply and Demand?
By HORACE R. CORBIN
Editor’s Note: This is part four of a series to conclude by Labor Day on the issue of parking deliberations in downtown Westfield. This week’s column presents factors other than a deck to consider in a parking plan. Mr. Corbin is Publisher of The Westfield Leader and The Times of Scotch PlainsFanwood.
* * * * * By now, the question of Westfield building one or more parking decks has been hashed nearly to death. It boils down to two positions: The preservationist position on one hand versus the development position on the other; and the public finance position on one hand versus the “pay for play” position on the other.
Some things should be said at the outset. First, there really is no such thing as “colonial” Westfield not in the sense that a town like Lexington, Mass., is colonial. And we can’t go back to the days when there were several households per car – not today when there are several cars per household.
On the other hand, rampant development can, and often does, spoil towns. It spoils the things that people like about towns: the ability to walk around, the parks, the playing fields and the natural rhythm of peopleoriented commerce. Think of Route 22. That’s not Westfield, nor should it ever be.
The Westfield Leader and The Times of Scotch PlainsFanwood interviewed a transportation economist, Dr. Kevin Neels of Charles River Associates, a Bostonbased litigation research consulting firm. Dr. Neels had a number of interesting things to say.
Getting right to the nub of the question, Dr. Neels’s first comment was, “What is the full price (of parking)? That includes the outofpocket costs, the hassle, the inconvenience.” After determining that full price, Dr. Neels said, “You need to think about how responsive the demand is to changes in the overall price.
“In your area, demand could be quite sensitive,” Dr. Neels continued. “A lot of people have long drives into commuter options bus lots, train stations. If you’re already in a car traveling a long way, you can shift destinations pretty readily if you’re given a reason to shift.
“That having been said,” Dr. Neels explained, “you think about what’s going to draw people: Availability and price. You can always choke off demand by increasing price. One reason you have excessive demand is low price. If more capacity were made available together with a price increase, that’s not going to draw as many people as if you simply built the spaces and did nothing on the pricing side.”
Dr. Neels’s point is that “Essentially, this system will equilibrate till people stop using the system because the costs hassles or money get too high. It may be expense, it may be hassle, or some combination of the two.”
Westfield isn’t the first town to face an overwhelming demand for some kind of traffic capacity. Dr. Neels did a study for a federal project to investigate restrictions on road usage.
“The only towns interested in it,” he said, “were those that were so attractive that they had no compunctions about driving people away.” He mentioned the beach towns of southern California and Honolulu.
Is that where we are in Westfield? Are we so attractive that we have no compunction about driving people away?
Dr. Neels offered one other suggestion for financing: a revenue bond, supported by the revenues from parking fees. A revenue bond is one species of a taxfree municipal bond. That’s an intriguing compromise. It would make parkers pay for the privilege, and give an income stream to any Westfield residents willing to buy the bonds as an investment.
Currently, the $800,000 annual parking revenues in Westfield are applied to general operations to offset other costs in town.
The Westfield Leader and the Times of Scotch PlainsFanwood has published numerous articles on parking in Westfield. Go to the Internet at www. goleader. com and click the SEARCH button. Type in “parking deck,” set the time period to, say, 800 days, then set the number of files desired to 1,000.
Please read these articles and tell us what you think.
A Ringing ProGrowth ‘Yes’ To a Westfield Parking Deck
I applaud Joe Malley for writing a sensible and rationale discussion about the need for a parking deck in Westfield. When I lived in Westfield, I often wondered if the term “NIMBY” was invented there. It is obvious that Westfield has a severe parking shortage for not only commuters who want to park at the station but also for its residents and others who want to use the growing downtown.
Downtown Westfield has revitalized, yet some people complain about the national chains that have moved in and turned around an essentially dying area. William J. Shepherd and Lee M. Hale summarized all the arguments why a parking deck is necessary in their full page ad.
Unfortunately, many of Westfield’s residents seem to understand any issue of public life in the narrowest terms possible, i. e. how will it affect their property values. To suggest that a parking deck above an existing parking lot could negatively impact the esthetic appeal of “colonial” Westfield or anyone’s property values or quality of life is absurd.
The local politicians in Westfield seem to be a group of people who are in it for the ego, not the money. Otherwise, why would I read letters from former politicos attacking their successors? Why can’t these elected leaders of both parties have the courage to actually deal with a real problem that negatively affects a lot of people?
Nowhere did I read anything about how having a parking deck would lead to further economic expansion and jobs. Whatever arguments exist against the building of a parking
deck are far outweighed by the reasoned arguments in favor of the deck. Once this problem is finally fixed after 40 years, the local politicians could move on to other issues such as making Westfield known as a compassionate and caring community and not just the selfdescribed “premier commuter town on the Raritan Valley Line.”
Tom Chaves Maplewood
A Correction About ‘Project Children’
First, let me thank you for the kind article in your July 27 issue concerning,
inter alia, Healing The Children. I hope the interest generated by your publication might lead to increased interest and participation by others in Westfield.
I do have a concern, however, about an inaccuracy concerning the organization known as Project Children. Contrary to what was reported, the Project Children organization does not involve injured children in any respect. Rather, its goal is, through host families in the United States, to provide a sixweek summer respite from the violence in Northern Ireland. It arranges for both Catholic and Protestant youngsters to visit here, to stay with an American family, and to be exposed to religious tolerance in a nonviolent atmosphere.
I am concerned that some who might otherwise be interested in participating in Project Children’s program might shy away from participation thinking it involves physically injured children. Accordingly, I would ask that you correct this impression.
Mary Catherine Ryan Westfield Deadlines
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