goleader.com - Union County, NJ Newspapers 97sep11

westfield nj
Paul A. Battiloro Jr. Appointed Fire Chief at Town Council Meeting

By PAUL J. PEYTON Specially Written for The Westfield Leader

Thirty years ago Paul A. Battiloro, Jr. joined the Westfield Fire Department, just four years after graduating

from Westfield High School. After making his way up the ranks, the 42-year town resident has finally reached the pinnacle of his career with his appointment Tuesday night as Fire Chief of this municipality of some 28,000 inhabitants.

A little over two months after the retirement of former Fire Chief Walter Ridge, Mr. Battiloro’s appointment

was officially approved by Mayor Thomas C. Jardim and the Town Council, in a 9-0 vote, Tuesday night as Mr. Battiloro’s wife, Judith, daughter, Jennifer, and two sons, Christopher and Jeffrey, proudly looked on.

Chief Battiloro has been serving as Acting Chief since the retirement of his predecessor, Chief Ridge, which became effective July 1.

Mayor Jardim told those in attendance the choice between Mr. Battiloro and Deputy Chief John Castellano, the only other candidate for the position, was a "very difficult decision."

He explained that Mr. Battiloro received the endorsement of Mr. Ridge, the New Jersey Independent Fire Chiefs Association, and finally the recommendation of Town Administrator Edward A. Gottko. Mr. Gottko interviewed both candidates before making his recommendation to the Mayor.

"Paul Battiloro is an extremely experienced firefighter," the Mayor noted. "He cuts a mean profile in a fireman’s suit. He has a lot of experience and dedication to the town and I wish him well in his job as Fire Chief."

Third Ward Councilman Neil F. Sullivan, Jr., Chairman of the Public Safety Committee, noted that among Mr. Battiloro’s responsibilities over the past 20 years was that of Director of Emergency Management.Third Ward Councilman John J. Walsh said the town was "lucky" to have Chief Battiloro to "follow in the footsteps and service" of former Chief Ridge.First Ward Councilman Norman N. Greco added that Chief Battiloro has a good deal of administrative experience with the fire department which

he feels "will lend to his new position as chief."

Chief Battiloro joined the department on May 6, 1967. He was promoted to Lieutenant on January 1, 1972; Captain on March 1, 1973; Fire Protection Officer on July 2, 1973; and finally, Deputy Chief on January 1, 1975.

As Deputy Chief, he served as Commanding Officer of the Bureau of Fire Prevention and was responsible for determining the cause and origin of all suspicious fires in town.

Chief Battiloro served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War and was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds he received in action.

On another matter, council members agreed that more work needs to be done on a proposed exterior property maintenance code which was unveiled at last week’s council meeting.

Phyllis Coumbe of Maple Street said after reading about the proposed code in last week’s Leader, she believes the Laws and Rules Committee, which has been working on the code, seems to "care more about property than people."

Although admitting the ordinance needs some tweaking, Mayor Jardim said he "wholly supports the concept of such an ordinance" which he said is more of a "symbolic gesture" by the governing body.

"We have pride in our town and we want it to look right," he explained.

Fourth Ward Councilman Lawrence A. Goldman noted that the ordinance would address conditions such as abandoned, dilapidated houses and vacant lots which have become dumping grounds in town, as well as open excavation sites.

He said the code was not intended for officials to invade the privacy of residents by coming onto their property.

Mayor Jardim said there are residents who have holes in the buildings in which they reside.

"This is about greedy landlords," he asserted.

Councilman Goldman noted that as part of the ordinance, both a town enforcement officer and residents themselves could bring possible code violations to the town’s attention.

In the latter, the names and addresses of five residents from different households in a particular neighborhood would be necessary in order to have a specific situation looked into.

Regarding a section of the proposed code which states homeowners would be required to fix their sidewalks if they represent a health hazard to the public, Councilman Greco said this item alone would mean that as many as 95 percent of residents would be in violation of the code.

Councilman Greco said, "if you are going to use this as a tool, that’s fine. But don’t use it as a weapon. I fear the way this is written now, this is more on the weapon side."

Councilman Goldman shot back that Mr. Greco’s comments amounted to "irresponsible rhetoric."

In other business, during the public

portion of the meeting, Bill Dobson of Baker Street, gave an impassioned plea to the council regarding what he feels is an intrusion on his privacy regarding the new addition at Wilson Elementary School, located on Linden Avenue.

The new classroom addition officially opened this month. Mr. Dobson said as a result, 16 windows now are in close proximity to his house. He said when the lights are on in the classrooms, he can see clearly into the rooms and students and staff can see into his home.

Mr. Dobson said he has had discussions with school officials but to no avail.

Councilman Greco recommended that eight trees, of the type he described as growing quickly and tall, could be planted to at least partially shield Mr. Dobman’s home from the new rooms. The property is owned by the school district.

Fourth Ward Councilman Donnell Carr recommended that the matter be put on the agenda when the Town Council’s School Liaison Committee meets with its counterparts on the Board of Education tonight, September 11.

Several residents of Grandview Avenue came before the council in regard to the poor condition of their street. Carmen Marsillo complained of trucks over the four-ton limit driving down the street. He said the street has "horrendous conditions."

He said Grandview is used as a cut-through street for motorists headed to the Division of Motor Vehicles Inspection Station on South Avenue.

The council, Mr. Gottko explained, through its vote Tuesday night, authorized the Mayor to sign an agreement with the county to receive $60,000 through the Community Block Grant Program for the project.

He said this funding, though, would not be sufficient to do the whole street. Town Engineer and Public Works Supervisor Kenneth B. Marsh said it would be feasible for the town to finish the base coat this year, a process which involves smoothing out the surface of the road.

The rest of the paving would be done next year, if that is the council’s decision.

The council also approved the appointment of the Reverend Donald Hummel of St. Helen’s Roman Catholic Church as Police Department Chaplain.

Father Hummel will assist in death notifications and ride with officers in patrol cars on night shifts. He would provide personal counseling and support to deal with police department stress.

Copyright 1997
TheWestfield Leader
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Revised: September 14, 1997.