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Peter Hogaboom ABR, CRS, GRI
Selling Area Homes Since 1986 Internet: www. arsdata. com/ hogaboom Email: hogaboom@ eclipse. net
CIRCA 1911 COLONIAL WESTFIELD – Charming and practical – Ten rooms, 5 Bedrooms on 2nd floor and 2˝ Baths. Hardwood floors and fireplace in Living Room, French doored Dining Room and the 13’x23’ Family Room, Eatin Kitchen, 60’ x115’ lot, deck and fish pond. Asking $319,900. Page Pete for your private showing.
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DWC Approves Annual Budget of $299,500; Proposes $6.5 Million Town Allocation for Deck
By DEBORAH MADISON
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times
WESTFIELD — The Downtown Westfield Corporation (DWC), the management entity of the Westfield special improvement district (SID), approved their 2000 budget of $299,500 at their annual meeting on January 26.
This spending plan represents a 7 percent increase over their 1999 budget of $279,624.
Administrative and operational costs, estimated at $133,000, reflect a 13 percent hike over last year’s figures for this category, making this category the largest chunk of the budget, as well as the largest area of increase over last year.
DWC Chairman and proprietor of The Leader Store, Joe Spector, attributed the hike to an increase in rent and several newly formed positions replacing what were previously volunteer positions.
The second largest area of funding, estimated at a proposed $98,000 is for promotion, which includes implementing events and programs and regional advertising.
Mr. Spector reported that these costs include DWC’s plans to take advantage of the newly revamped TV36 as well as Westfield’s expanding Web site for future advertising.
The budget, which was unanimously approved by all seven voting members, now has to be approved by Town Council approval, which is expected to take place sometime in March, according to Mayor Thomas C. Jardim.
Another area of the DWC’s proposed budget, the design portion, estimated at $45,000, includes such items as seasonal decorations and banners, the facade renovation grant program and professional services
for engineering and architectural consultants’ design services. This reflects a $16,000 increase over last year’s total for this category.
Mr. Spector stated that the reason for this increase is because the DWC intends on making more professional consulting services available to business owners. He stated that the board believes that this greater investment in businesses will work as an incentive for owners to invest more of their own funds into the downtown area.
The proposed budget also includes $3,500 for the Downtown Improvement Plan, which covers streetscape, land use, parking and transportation design plans for presentation to the public.
Recruitment packages for prospective businesses, downtown business guides and periodic newsletters, which fall under the category of Economic Development, has been proposed at $20,000.
In recommendations to the Town Council, the DWC has proposed that the council allocate $6.5 million for a parking deck facility, which has been the subject of extensive study by the council in conjunction with the midwest planning firm of Rich and Associates.
This figure is a rough estimate based on costs recently incurred by the City of Summit in constructing a parking deck similar to what has been proposed for Westfield, according to DWC Executive Director Michael La Place. Actual cost estimates for a deck in Westfield will be available next month, when the planning firm issues their report to the Town Council.
Another $35,000 is recommended for special improvement district maintenance staff and services, which would cover additional use of De partment of Public Works maintenance
personnel for a variety of needs. Administrative recommendations to the council propose a reorganization study of town government’s land use, design and code enforcement functions.
More specifically, that the town should consider the establishment of a Department of Planning and Community Development to streamline Planning Board, Board of Adjustment, Historic Preservation Committee and Architectural Review Board grant writing and construction code processes.
The newly proposed department would, according to the proposal published by the board, “bring all design and land use functions together under the supervision of a fulltime town planning director and staff.”
The proposed department would streamline and coordinate all planning and oversee the process of revisions to the Master Plan, according to Mr. Spector. This would free up the overworked planning and zoning boards as well as fast track projects deemed as very beneficial for the town.
The recommendation also proposes the establishment of a “business ombudsman or economic development facilitator” to oversee new real estate and business investments and the general, overall marketing of the town to new investors.
“The town needs an advocate who can help make the planning process less adversarial and more positive for newcomers interested in developing or purchasing businesses or real estate in town,” Mr. Spector said.
The Mayor agreed with the board’s recommendations and assured the
board that these recommendations were being already being considered for implementation by the Town Council.
Mayor Jardim added that the parking consultant’s report will focus on better parking management, with a complete analysis of every parking lot, including their professional recommendations for the best overall remedies.
In other business, the DWC honored two outgoing board members whose terms have expired and introduced two newly appointed members to the DWC Board.
Assistant DWC Chairman for 1999, Anthony Annese, owner of the now closed Tony Dennis Store, and 1999 DWC Treasurer David Judd were honored with plaques commemorating their years of service to the Board. Both Mr. Judd and Mr. Annese told The Westfield Leader
and The Times of Scotch Plains and Fanwood that they have no immediate plans to participate in any official governmental offices, but that they both intend on remaining active in town affairs.
New members to the board are resident Director Salvatore Caruana, replacing Mr. Judd, and owner Director David Schwarz, replacing Mr. Annese. The DWC board consists of seven voting members, which include two owner directors, two resident directors, two operator directors and one council Member.
DWC board offices for Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer and Committee Chairs will be selected at the next DWC meeting scheduled for Wednesday, February 16. The board also proposed changing their regularly scheduled monthly meetings from Wednesday to Monday nights.
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
and knees, Marissa held the fire door open, so it wouldn’t automatically close behind them.
Justin crawled around on his hands and knees in the pitch dark, smokefilled hallway.
“While feeling around with his hands, Justin came upon a lifeless body lying on the hallway floor,” Marissa recalled. The two of them dragged the unconscious body into the dormitory room, and plugged up the doorway with a blanket to stop the smoke from entering the room.
Meanwhile, Marissa watched as her two roommates threw a mattress out of their third floor window into the courtyard below. She implored them not to panic by making a dangerous jump.
Afraid that she wouldn’t be able to get through to 911, which required a lengthy code to dial, Marissa called her boyfriend, Chris DeSantis, who lived in a nearby dormitory. She told Chris that there was a fire and to call 911 and her mother. Then she said, “I love you,” and hung up.
The unconscious boy’s body was badly burned, from what Marissa could see beneath a layer of black soot. The hair on top of his head and the hair on his legs were singed. His nose and mouth were filled with black soot and fluid. She took a towel and wiped out his nose and mouth, so that the boy could breathe better.
“His breathing was labored and he was gasping for air,” she recalled.
Marissa, who is a nursing student said, “I was very scared, but acted instinctively. I really didn’t have time to think about what I was doing.”
Marissa recalled talking to the unconscious boy, trying to rouse him, but he did not respond.
Suddenly, a ladder appeared outside of the dorm window. “My two roommates left down the ladder,” she recalled. “Justin and I couldn’t leave the boy. He opened his eyes briefly and tried to say something. I think he said his name was Tom. He was drifting in and out of consciousness.”
A residential dorm monitor came into the room and told Marissa and Justin to take the ladder out the window to safety. Marissa still did not want to leave without the injured boy, but the dorm monitor insisted. As she stood up, the halfconscious boy grabbed her ankle and looked up at her.
“Justin had to pry the boys fingers from around my ankle,” she recalled.
“I didn’t want to leave him, but the dorm monitor insisted that he would be taken care of.”
Marissa and Justin then climbed out of the third story window to the icycold courtyard below.
“It wasn’t until we had arrived on the ground outside, that I realized we were covered in black soot and could hardly breathe,” Marissa recalled. “Justin and I were rushed to St. Barnabas Medical Center for smoke inhalation.
“I realized how seriously we were hurt when Justin and I began coughing up black soot,” she recalled.
Her mother and boyfriend arrived at the hospital around 6: 30 a. m.
“They were very relieved of course, to discover that I was okay,” she said.
In the day that followed, Marissa learned that a boy from the dorm room next to hers, named Aaron Karol, from Greenbrook, had died, trying to escape down the wrong hallway.
Two other freshmen students from Boland Dorm also died — John Giunta from Vineland and Frank Caltabilota from West Long Branch. All three freshmen were 18 years old.
Six other students were critically injured and taken to St. Barnabas Medical Center with second and third degree burns, and were listed in critical condition. Another student broke his wrist and ankle leaping out of the window from his third story dormitory room.
Scores of other students were temporarily hospitalized for varying lengths of time, mostly for minor burns and smoke inhalation.
The exact cause of the fire is still under investigation by local fire and
University officials. The lounge area, where the fire is believed to have originated from, was approximately 15 feet from Marissa’s dormitory room. Smoking and electrical wiring have been ruled out as the cause of the blaze.
Investigators now believe the fire was deliberately set and have identified at least four individual as suspects, it has been reported.
School officials and the police are investigating three trespassers who were asked to leave the building earlier that evening. Also being investigated was a threatening email sent to University Officials from a dormitory student’s computer stating that this fire was “nothing compared to what is yet to come,” according to a report published in The StarLedger.
The student computer, which issued this email has been confiscated by the police and the source of the email message is being investigated to determine if this was a sick prank in the aftermath of the tragedy, or someone who possibly had prior knowledge of the predawn blaze. An arrest has been made in the case.
Marissa, along with hundreds of her classmates, attended several memorial services in the Seton Hall’s Walsh Gymnasium to honor the victims and their families.
“During one memorial service, a sobbing man came up to me and gave me a big hug, thanking me, as tears poured out of his eyes. It was the boy’s father, whom we saved.” Marissa related. “People are saying we are heroes, but I don’t feel like a hero. I just acted as anyone would have in that situation.”
Marissa, along with many of her classmates, have returned to Boland Dormitory, although some dorm roommates have chosen to live elsewhere, she stated. “I wanted to be with my friends who went through the same ordeal. That is helping me to get through this.”
The section of the dormitory where the fire took place has been closed down and students have been relocated to other sections of the building.
The students’ possessions were taken to a warehouse where they could sift through boxes to claim their belongings, Marissa related.
“All of our electrical appliances including our computers were ruined by water damage,” she reported. “Most of our clothes were ruined by smoke damage. We lost everything,” she told The Times.
“We always felt safe, and assumed that the dorms were wellequipped for an emergency like this. Now, we’re all a little nervous,” Marissa stated.
Governor Christine Todd Whitman issued a bill, after the tragic fire, which will require all college dormitories to be equipped with sprinkler systems, as well as fire alarms. Previously, older dormitories, built before 1984, such as the 48yearold Boland Dorm, were not required to have a sprinkler system. The dormitory is home to approximately 640 of Seton Hall’s 10,000 students and is equipped with 55 fire extinguishers and numerous smoke alarms, but no sprinklers.
Seton Hall University Officials had several meetings just prior to the January 19 blaze regarding the false alarm incidences and how to best curb the problem, according to a University spokesperson.
“Everyone from the dorm is still in shock. You never think something like this can happen to you,” Marissa said. “It’s probably going to take us all awhile to get over this tragedy,” Marissa added.
Scotch Plains Resident Saves Fellow Student in SHU Blaze
WESTFIELD FIRE BLOTTER
MONDAY, JANUARY 24
· Six hundred block of North Avenue – Water flow alarm.
· Three hundred block of East Broad Street – Alarm activation.
· Five hundred block of Hillcrest Avenue – Hazardous condition.
· Three hundred of North Avenue — Gas leak.
· Seven hundred of Tuxford Turn – Carbon monoxide investigation.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 25
· One hundred block of Azalea Terrace – Alarm activation.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 26
· Six hundred block of North Avenue – Alarm activation.
· Eight hundred block of Dartmoor – Smoke condition.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 27
· One hundred block of Sandra Circle – Alarm activation.
· Five hundred of Sherwood Parkway – Service call.
· Eleven hundred block of South Avenue West – Vehicle fire.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 28
· Three block of Brightwood Avenue – Medical emergency.
· Three hundred of Senaca Place – Smoke scare.
· Eleven hundred of South Avenue West – Unintentional alarm.
· One hundred block of Cedar Street – Water evacuation.
· Four hundred block of Lawrence Avenue – Alarm malfunction.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 29
· Three block of North Avenue Eat – Vehicle fire.
· One hundred block of Gallows Hill Road – Electrical hazard.
· Five hundred block of Central Avenue – Hazardous condition investigation.
· Four hundred block of Birch Place – Hazardous condition.
· Five hundred block of North Avenue – Good intent call.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 30
· Six hundred block of Summit Avenue – Carbon monoxide investigation.
· Two hundred block of Clark Street – Appliance fire.
· Two hundred block of Wyoming Street – Carbon monoxide investigation.
· Seven hundred block of Norgate – Alarm malfunction.
· Five hundred of Summit Avenue – Carbon monoxide investigation.
· Four hundred block of Poets Place – Smoke scare.
WESTFIELD POLICE BLOTTER THURSDAY, JANUARY 27
· Police received a report that a Yamaha stereo system was stolen from Roosevelt Intermediate School on Clark Street sometime between January 26 and 27.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 28
· Linda Gallipoli, 31, of Westfield was arrested and charged with shoplifting $70 worth of merchandise from a North Avenue pharmacy and with possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana, according to police. She was released on her own recogni zance.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 29
· An Omega brand computer zip drive valued at approximately $30 was reported stolen from a physician’s office on Walnut Street.
MONDAY, JANUARY 31
· A business on South Avenue, West, reported that someone forcibly entered the establishment by smashing the front glass door. A BMX bicycle valued at $479 and a cash register containing approximately $50 were removed from the premises, authorities said.
FANWOOD POLICE BLOTTER
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TUESDAY, JANUARY 25
· A Jerusalem Road resident reported that someone had tampered with the locks on several doors of a building over a period of several days. Entry was not gained.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 27
· A Country Club Lane resident reported the theft of a 2000 Jeep Cherokee which was parked in the lot of an apartment complex.
· Kendall J. Bartley, 19, of Plainfield was arrested and charged with eluding a police officer on Front Street. Bartley was additionally charged with several motor vehicle violations and was remanded to the Union County Jail in lieu
of $2,000 bail set by Judge Joseph Perfilio of the Scotch Plains Municipal Court.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 28
· A Westfield Avenue resident reported that fraudulent third party charges were made against his telephone account last month.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 29
· The theft of a CD player and a calculator was reported by an employee of a fast food restaurant on Route 22.
· The burglary of a Grand Street residence was reported. Entry was gained by breaking a basement window. Bedrooms were searched and an undetermined amount of jewelry was taken, according to police.
Covering Fanwood, Mountainside, Scotch Plains and Westfield, Union County, New Jersey (NJ)