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NEWS & EDITORIAL
Club Malibu Liquor License Renewal Is Not in Scotch Plains’ Best Interest
It’s been more than a year and a half since the fatal shooting at Club Malibu on Terrill Road in Scotch Plains, and almost that long since the nightspot shut its doors. Now, new owners are trying to convince the Scotch Plains Township Council, which acts as the local alcoholic beverage control authority, to issue a renewal of the club’s liquor license so that it can reopen for business.
If the council does ultimately decide sometime before the end of this month to grant such a renewal, it will disappoint not only us, but also a number of residents who live nearby the club, as well as officials in the Scotch Plains Police and Fire Departments.
At one of the liquor license renewal hearings, which began in late February and are set to be wrapped up in the next few weeks, residents, most of whom live directly across Terrill Road in Plainfield, told of having to deal with excessive noise, trash, vandalism, traffic, illegally parked cars and crowds that were directly related, they said, to the lax management and operation of Club Malibu. None of the halfdozen residents who testified favored allowing the club to reopen.
Similarly, police and fire officials had little positive to say about Malibu. Thomas O’Brien, the Police Chief, and Jonathan Ellis, the head of the Fire Department, laid out some two dozen conditions they said should be incorporated into any liquor license renewal. Both officials said, though, that even if a renewal did include their provisos — which dealt primarily with security concerns, crowd control, and parking — they’d still be uncomfortable with a newlyreopened nightclub there.
Prior to the deadly shooting, which occurred shortly after midnight on Thanksgiving Day in 1998, things were not peaceful at the nightspot at 144 Terrill Road. That tragedy was not exactly an occurrence that led people to shake their heads and ask themselves, “How could this have happened at Club Malibu, of all places?” At the initial license renewal hearing, Sergeant James A. Cassidy, the local liquor control officer, testified that there had been nearly 40 incidents of police calls, some with assistance from police from neighboring communities, to the club in 1998.
These calls were in response to various problems at the nightclub, including residents’ complaints about excessive noise, criminal mischief, theft, traffic and parking problems, fire safety checks, assaults, crowd control problems, disorderly conduct,
distribution and possession of controlled dangerous substances, and fighting.
In fact, last month, Chief O’Brien said that in the two years leading up the 1998 shooting, there were more police calls to Club Malibu than to any other address in Scotch Plains.
What the Township Council needs to ask itself as it considers this renewal application is: “What would be gained by allowing Malibu to reopen? What would be the benefit to the community? Does Scotch Plains really need such a nightclub in town?”
Clearly, neighbors on both sides of Terrill Road aren’t thrilled by the prospect of a newlyreopened Club Malibu near their homes. The new owners apparently have grand plans to solve the parking, crowd control and noise problems, but, in the end, this would still be a nightclub located in the midst of a mostly residential neighborhood. It’s not being planned as a place for quiet dinners and cocktails — its clientele is primarily people in their twenties, and many of us may personally recall the recklessness, lack of selfcontrol and sense of invincibility that is a part of being young. It’s not a local watering hole, like the Sun Tavern up the street or the Jolly Trolley in Westfield, both of which, by the way, also serve food and have separate dining rooms.
Clearly, the resources of the local police, and the patience of nearby residents, were taxed during Club Malibu’s last few years of operation.
What guarantees would there be that problems wouldn’t arise anew if the nightclub was allowed to open? And what would it say about the czouncil’s consideration of Scotch Plains’ residents and neighbors if it granted a renewal? Club Malibu isn’t a venue that has attracted international superstars or acclaimed performers. It isn’t a cultural landmark of any sort. It has showed itself to be an oasis for trouble, and it doesn’t belong in a suburban community.
One of the primary reasons that people decide to settle, or remain, in a particular town, or a particular area of a town, is the quality of life being offered. It’s obvious that Club Malibu did not contribute to the quality of life for Scotch Plains residents living behind the nightclub or those Plainfield residents living across Terrill Road. It did not burnish Scotch Plains’ overall image. Renewing the liquor license of an establishment with a checkered history, whose presence is not welcomed by the locals, would be a giant step downward for both Scotch Plains and Plainfield.
Letters to the Editor
It is usually best to treat someone’s religious or philosophical conviction as a very private matter, but we shall make an exception in the case of Mac Davis’ personal creed. While at a party, the singer and song writer was asked what he believed in. His answer was, “I believe in music, I believe in love.” Upon returning home that night he sat down and wrote a beautiful song using that same theme.
Similarly, in 1869 a famous British scientist, Thomas Henry Huxley, coined the word agnostic to describe his religious conviction. He defined agnostic as “a person who neither accepted nor rejected the existence of God.” Huxley, who did not believe the existence of God was capable of proof, combined the Greek prefix a, meaning “not,” with gingnoskein, “to know,” to create this neologism (new word).
Among other things, we believe in etymology, and we hope you do too. Recently Joseph Roskin’s fifth
grade class at the Brunner School in Scotch Plains learned about historic sites and the need to save them. They also learned to be activists by writing to the Mayor of Scotch Plains about the Betsy Frazee House.
In their letters the students suggested their town’s historic site become a national museum or a clubhouse near a park. They didn’t want a piece of history which could offer a glimpse of the past to be destroyed. And I couldn’t agree more.
Several weeks before I knew of the students’ campaign to save the Frazee House, I had read a news article describing the site’s run down condition. The 260yearold frame house which once hosted British General Cornwallis is now boarded up and deteriorating. Instead of serving as a rich historical resource, it is becoming an eyesore.
The article was prompted by the naming of the Frazee House to the annual “most endangered” historic sites list published by Preservation New Jersey. It was at the same time that I learned first hand of another site on the list the Homestead Farm at Oak Ridge in Clark.
Built in the early 1700’s, the homestead — believed to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad during the days of slavery — today serves as the clubhouse for Union County’s Oak Ridge Golf Course. It was almost demolished five years ago to make way for a new clubhouse, but preservationists succeeded in holding off its demise.
I was at the Oak Ridge Farm in March for the dedication of a plaque marking the house’s listing on historic registers when I learned of its history.
Moved by the plight of the Betsy Frazee House and Oak Ridge Homestead, on May 1, I introduced a bill to appropriate funds to the Department of Environmental Protection for these two sites plus the eight others on the Preservation New Jersey list. If passed, the legislation would provide $1 million towards the renovation and preservation of the 10 historic sites.
Besides the Frazee House and Oak Ridge Farm, the other sites that would benefit from Assembly Bill 2333 include:
• Pierson’s Mill, established in 1831 and Maplewood’s oldest business, which is a garden center up for sale.
• The Washington Road Elm Alley in West Windsor Township, a .7 mile long stretch with 60foothigh elm trees planted in 1925 to provide a scenic roadway for motorists approaching Princeton from Route 1.
• The Hudson and Manhattan Railroad Powerhouse in Jersey City, a 10story architectural colossus that powered PATH trains in the past century.
• The West Side All Wars Memorial, an Atlantic City building erected
NEWS FROM TRENTON
22nd Legislative District
Assemblyman Augustine Sponsors Legislation to Save Historic Sites
By Assemblyman Alan M. Augustine
to honor African American veterans. • The Sears, Roebuck & Company building in Camden.
• The 19th century Ferracute Machine factory in Bridgeton. •The 1711 MorrisSalter HartshorneTredwell House in Rumson.
• The 1864 HackettStrang farm estate in Salem County.
All of these historic sites are part of New Jersey’s rich heritage. Their value lies in the lessons and insights they can teach our children and future generations about our past. The students in Mr. Roskin’s class are to be commended for their concern about the Frazee House and it is my hope that my legislation will teach them that government, too, is concerned and willing to get involved to insure our legacy includes historic sites.
* * * * *
Alan M. Augustine of Scotch Plains is a state Assemblyman representing the 22nd District.
The mood at Michael Lapolla’s primary night party turned like the tide — slowly, but steadily — as it became clear that the Union County Manager’s dream to represent the Seventh District in the November Congressional election could be dashed by former Fanwood Mayor Maryanne S. Connelly.
It was fascinating to watch the body language and listen to the voices of Mr. Lapolla’s grassroots supporters as results trickled in during the night. Expansive and loud when it became clear he’d won Union County.
Jubilant when Mayor of Woodbridge Jim McGreevy personally delivered the welcome news that Mr. Lapolla had soundly defeated Mrs. Connelly in that township.
Rumor had it that “Michael” was at home awaiting the phone call that would declare him the winner. Only then would he make his way from Westfield to L’Affaire on Route 22 to join in the victory celebration.
So focused was the crowd on the Lapolla/ Connelly contest that the incumbent freeholders’ huge win practically went unnoticed. Hours passed.
It was whispered that the back room people who were feverishly collecting results from towns around the district were “concerned.” Things weren’t looking so good in Somerset County. And Mr. Lapolla’s win in Union County wasn’t substantial enough to offset losses there.
The word was, “It’s close. It’s close. About 200 votes.” Much of the laughter faded to more quiet conversation. Each update on NJN News drew a
bigger circle of viewers. Some supporters headed home after a long day of getting the vote out to await the results on TV. Others lingered. It was a mixed bunch. Young. Old. Family. Friends. County employees. Democrats who had worked the Seventh District on Mr. Lapolla’s behalf even though they make their homes elsewhere.
When, about 11: 15 p. m., L’Affaire employees began clearing the buffet snack table, it seemed to signal an end of some kind was near. Even the crowd around the bar thinned somewhat.
At midnight, the group leapt to its feet to give their boy a rousing welcome upon his arrival. It did little to erase the worn look from his face. The candidate simply declared the race too close to call and announced his intention to have the voting machines impounded the next morning. Somebody brought him a drink.
Despite the unanticipated turn of events, the group’s collective pride in Michael Lapolla and his message never wavered. Even the funereal atmosphere that had claimed the room by the time he arrived couldn’t dim the grassroots consensus that he’s a really a good guy, who could do really good things, given the chance. Whether you agree with their politics or not, you have to admire that kind of loyalty.
* * * * *
Reporter Susan Dyckman was at the Michael Lapolla primary party on June 6, covering the event for The Westfield Leader and The Times of Scotch PlainsFanwood.
Grassroots Consensus Never Wavered For Lapolla Despite Apparent Loss
By SUSAN M. DYCKMAN Proposed Math Program in Westfield Public Schools Continues to Draw Concern and Questions in Community
Everyday Math or Chicago Math will be implemented in 50 elementary classrooms next year. Concerns of parents were brought to the attention of the Superintendent, Board of Education members, and Math Supervisor Regina Kiczek. The response to my letter (The
Westfield Leader, June 1) by Superintendent William J. Foley was inadequate and the response by Ms. Kiczek was interesting and creative, but hardly satisfactory.
Although wellintentioned, Ms. Kiczek has lost sight of the forest for the trees. Now Ms. Kiczek admits the program has many flaws. The most problematic being the total lack of traditional teaching methods (traditional rules of math are not given, no emphasis on process or method, no memorization or repetition) and spiraling. These flaws translate into students not learning the rules of math and not mastering basics such as math facts and traditional multiplication and long division to name a few. Mastery is simply not required (like phonics in the whole language/ phonics combo approach to reading).
Instead, students try to derive a concept and then are given 1 or 2 problems — and that’s it until the next time they see it again. According to a teacher in one of the ‘successful’ districts using Everyday Math, teaching is very frustrating because the students never master skills. The teacher introduces the problems over and over again — only to know students will not master them.
If a program fails to utilize rules and repetition as a method, students will not master skills. (This is why the current 6th, 7th, and 8th graders can’t spell, write, or sound out very long words. After mastering initial and ending consonants and blends these children were not required to master diphthongs and digraphs. Nor were they given much needed rules and drills in phonics, syllabication, spelling, grammar, and mechanics.
Reinforcement of rules and drills need to be given frequently year after year during the early years of education. This is how students become competent readers and writers.) It may not be the most ‘fun’ or ‘creative’ experience, but it is the most effective way of learning.
The positives of Everyday Math are that it strives to develop conceptual thinking in students and it utilizes interactive teaching methods. Both positive goals, if they are assigned the proper proportion in the curriculum. Ms. Kiczek is correct in saying both approaches have something to offer. However, Dr. Foley
and Ms. Kiczek are approaching this backwards. They fail to strike the correct proportion and balance between the traditional and the progressive, giving too much weight to the progressive. The public should consider the following questions:
Given all of its flaws, does it make sense to change curriculum only to throw out half of the new — plus spend money developing materials for parents to use at home and traditional supplements, as well as extensive teacher training? How much will this new curriculum cost when purchased? (approximately $500,000)
Given the strengths of the current AddisonWesley curriculum, shouldn’t we continue its use and supplement with a little more emphasis on conceptual thinking and interactive lessons once or twice a week?
Why was this curriculum looked at in the first place? AddisonWesley is in place, and parents are satisfied. It was intermediate students who were guinea pigs five years ago, and after parental concerns were voiced, strong emphasis was placed on math facts and other basics. The current elementary students are in good shape. Why then? The administration will point to GEPA scores. If GEPA scores showed weaknesses in conceptual thinking, does that mean we need to toss our current curriculum?
Food for thought: Policy states the curricula and textbooks must be reviewed
every five years. In the past, Westfield and other districts have changed textbooks and/ or curricula that has been working, simply because the fiveyear period was up. How much of this is a moneymaking scheme for the companies that write textbooks and develop curricula? Whose interests are being thought about, the students or someone else? Are there agendas that find their way into the classroom through our students’ textbooks and curricula? If so, isn’t this a clever way of forcing it into the classrooms? After all, once the ‘experts’ at the universities rewrite all the textbooks and curricula, schools can no longer find the textbooks they desire (therefore the old ones are extremely valuable) and administrators live in fear of not being seen as ‘progressive. ’
The citizens of this country must be aware of what’s really going on in public education. The school administrations across the country can too easily paint their own picture if they so choose. They slip changes through as quietly as possible and succeed unless someone out here is paying attention. The Everyday Math curriculum does not provide a solid foundation for our students. I urge the community to start paying attention, ask questions, and don’t accept the creative answers!
Joanne Muldoon Westfield
Letters to the Editor
SPF Welfare Dept. Extends Thanks
For Food Drive
The Scotch Plains/ Fanwood Welfare Department would like to take this opportunity to express our thanks to the residents of Scotch Plains and Fanwood for their generosity during the “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive sponsored by the U. S. Post Office on May 13.
We would also like to express our sincere thanks to all the mail carriers and postal employees for the tremendous work they did to make this such a successful drive. They collected, sorted and delivered numerous truckloads of food to the various pantries upon completion of their rounds on that Saturday.
A special thanks to Emil Anthony for coordinating this effort. He made sure that the needs of each pantry were met.
The Welfare Pantry, St. Bartholomew’s, St. John’s and Fanwood Presbyterian supplement over 100 families in our communities. This food drive will enable our pantries to continue to serve these families during the summer months, a time when the pantries suffer severe shortages.
Maria Santo Welfare Director
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Former Gymnastics Coach Says Hello From Zlate Moravce, Slovakia Thanks to Everyone
For Help With Program
Before the school year comes to a close, I want to extend my thanks to all the community organizations, parents, and volunteers who made the Neon Chrysler Program at Westfield High School such a success.
Over 600 students were able to participate in this program thanks to the generosity of the Optimist Club and the organizational efforts of its president, Thomas Hornish, also the Westfield Foundation, Summit Bank and Comcast@ Home. Many Westfield parents also volunteered by serving as site workers, supervising the driving course in the high school parking lot.
I would also like to extend my thanks to Detective Ron Allen and the members of the Westfield Police Department for their part in a meaningful interaction with the students, role playing the actual legal consequences of drinking and driving The police officers support of the program helped make it a success.
Thank you to all involved.
Margaret Teitelbaum Health Services Coordinator
Westfield High School Give American Flag Proper Respect,
Fly it on Holidays, Writer Says
Have they discontinued the manufacture of the American flag? In my town during Memorial Day weekend, for each residence that proudly flew Old Glory, nine were bare. It gets worse every year. Despite the Jane Fondas, America continues to be the world’s greatest democracy. The stars and stripes are a reminder
and tribute to the servicemen and women who fought for our freedom. Some were killed, some captured and tortured and some are missing in action. Thanks to their sacrifices Americans are free to protest peacefully, including the burning of our flag.
I challenged some of my neighbors. One told me she cannot reach the flag hook and is planning to replace it. One said his staff is broken.
One young man, who was driving away with his wife and youngsters, responded to my flag challenge with a wise crack. One home had a large New Jersey Devils banner, but no American flag.
I doubt that many of these folks thought about the reason for this holiday nor cared. What happened to pride, respect, remembrance and gratitude? I wonder how Gold Star mothers feel about this scarcity of flags waving.
There is time for redemption: Independence Day July 4 and Veterans Day November 11.
Maurice Fenichel Fanwood
Editor’s Note: Sports Editor David B. Corbin wrote a story six months ago about Ellen Kovac, the gymnastics coach at Westfield High School who left to go to Zlate Moravce, Slovakia to teach. She has corresponded to him about her experience.
* * * * * Greetings from beautiful Slovakia! I’m finally writing to you after months of intending to do so. I’ve adjusted pretty well to life here and am enjoying my big adventure teaching English in Zlate Moravce, a town of 16,000 people located two hours east of the capital of Bratislava.
I want you to know that I have here in Zlate Moravce the April 2000 edition of
This Is Westfield. I’ve used it in some of my classes to show about life in America,
and now I’ve cut out some of the photos to make a poster called “This Is Westfield.” Of course the best part of the edition as far as I’m concerned is your feature on the Westfield High School Gymnastics Team. As the gymnastics coach for 11 years, I treasure that article. I’ve also posted photos of the Rescue Squad, Mindowaskin Park, several churches, fire station, train station, cemetery, etc.
Thanks for putting together such an excellent feature. It brought “home” to me here, and also has provided very interesting English lessons for my students.
Ellen Kovac Slovakia
Covering Fanwood, Mountainside, Scotch Plains and Westfield, Union County, New Jersey (NJ)