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Mr. Greco Announces Decision Not to Seek Fourth Council Term
By PAUL J. PEYTON
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
Community involvement has always been foremost in the life of Norman N. Greco -- whether it was founding the mens softball league in town, his efforts at stopping construction of a shopping mall on Route No. 22 in the 1980s, or his leadership during the same decade on the local Chamber of Commerce.
Through these involvements Mr. Greco decided to go for the gusto by running for elected office in 1991. He ran against the odds by challenging veteran First Ward Councilman W. Jubb Corbett in the Republican Primary. Mr. Greco not only surprised Mr. Corbett but the Republican Party as well which endorsed the incumbent that year.
Mr. Greco was unopposed in the general election that November and was reelected in 1993 and 1995 before last years stunning defeat to newcomer Thomas C. Jardim in the Mayoral election.
Now in his sixth year and third term on the council, Councilman Greco announced this week that he needs a breather from public office and thus will not seek reelection this November.
In his years on the council, Councilman Greco served on the majority of council standing committees. He chaired the Solid Waste Committee and served on the Public Works, Public Safety (which he chaired), Parking, Transportation and Traffic and Laws and Rules Committees, just to name a few.
He currently chairs the Personnel Committee. He also has served as Council Liaison to the Board of Education and the Chamber of Commerce.
Councilman Greco was also Acting Mayor and later Deputy Mayor, a position which no longer exists in the town charter.
He said he decided to seek public office in order "to give back to the community." Mr. Greco said, although "there are many things that are still left undone," he believes it is time to let other people serve on the governing body.
Mr. Greco plans to spend the free time he will have come January with his wife of eight years, Carol, and his grandchildren. He is also involved in several businesses which takes up a considerable amount of his time.
Mr. Greco has not closed the door on seeking elective office in the future -- it just will not be this year.
Among the issues he is most proud of, he said, were his involvement in the towns decision to seek and later be accepted into the MainStreet program. The Councilman was also very supportive of the councils decision to create a Special Improvement District (SID) to manage and promote Westfields downtown shopping district.
One of the areas that gained the Councilman a good deal of support was his stand against the construction of a ShopRite supermarket on North Avenue. He was one of the leaders on the council in attempting to rezone the area around the Westfield Lumber and Home Center, where the store was proposed for, in an attempt to halt the plans.
As a result of a legal action filed by the applicant, Village Super Markets, a Superior Court judge found that Mr. Greco should step aside on the issue due to the perception of a conflict of interest since his in-laws own commercial real estate in the downtown business district including the former A&P building which was still in operation at the time.
There is still pending litigation against the town regarding that application, which was denied by the Planning Board.
A number of residents involved in an attempt to stop the ShopRite were critical of the judges decision, including former Democratic foe and Mayoral contender himself, Anthony M. LaPorta, since Mr. Grecos vote was necessary given the fact the ordinance failed to pass by one vote.
Mr. Greco said he continues to believe construction of the 58,000-square-foot store would be "detrimental" to the downtown business district.
"Ive always believed a strong downtown increases the value of our homes," he stated during an interview Thursday in the offices of The Westfield Leader.
Councilman Greco said the downtown is an asset people look for when deciding to buy a home in Westfield. Its an asset just as the local school district is an asset.
Mr. Greco spearheaded the "Stop the Mall Campaign" while serving as President of the Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce. The mall, which was to be built on the Springfield border with Westfield, was going to be anchored by a Macys department store.
Mr. Greco noted that he played on Westfields first Little League team. He also founded the Westfield Mens Softball League in 1964 and served as a volunteer on the rescue squad.
He noted that he was involved behind the scenes in the effort to save Westfields last remaining movie house, the Rialto. He said due to the fact it was an election year in which he was running for Mayor, he decided not to publicize his efforts in the movement to save the theater.
He said he was proud to have gained the Republican Partys support to run for Mayor.
Mr. Greco explained that he did not expect to gain any additional rewards from the office, but only wanted to serve the town as its chief elected official. Mr. Grecos "political" career actually began to formalize as a freshman at Roosevelt Junior High School (now Roosevelt Intermediate) when he served as President of the Student Council.
"One of my goals in life, having lived here all my life, was that I always aspired to be Mayor of Westfield. I at least had the opportunity to run for Mayor of the town and I feel very proud that I got that far," Councilman Greco explained.
He said he believes residents have a "vested" interest, as he does, in a "viable" downtown. He said he believes some residential financial support is necessary for the SID, about $15 a year per household, to help business development in the downtown. Mr. Greco said the $150,000 these monies would raise could help solve the towns parking dilemma.
He said he has always been involved in the community and, "looks forward to serving the people of the Town of Westfield in the future."
Councilman Greco promised to keep himself involved in town affairs in the future.
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