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Fanwood Borough Council to Formally Appoint Nine Members to Fanwood Assessment Committee

By SUZETTE STALKER

Specially Written for The Times

Nine people are expected to be formally appointed to the Fanwood Community Assessment Committee by the Borough Council today, Thursday, May 8, during the governing body’s regular meeting. The committee has been formed to study the municipality’s strengths and weaknesses and to develop improvement strategies to be implemented through the year 2000.

Seven of the nine committee members to be appointed have already been working together for about a year in laying the groundwork for the assessment project, which is scheduled to kick off this summer. It is expected to cover a broad spectrum of community life, including government, business, citizen participation, education, inter-group relations, voluntarism and philanthropy, local and regional cooperation and the municipality’s vision for the future.

The committee currently includes Chairman David Pickering, a former Fanwood Councilman; Councilman William E. Populus; Jr.; Fanwood Planning Board member Jack Molenaar, Borough Clerk Eleanor McGovern; Candy Santo, Executive Director of Contact We Care in Fanwood; Realtor Carole Wood, and resident Carol Kraus. Rounding out the group will be Councilman Louis C. Jung and Joseph Nagy.

Kathy Weiner, a consultant for the committee, is expected to interview 100 people between August and the end of the year, to gauge their opinions about the community. Among those people to be interviewed, Mr. Pickering said during the governing body’s May 1 agenda session, will be representatives of government, business and education, as well as commuters and senior citizens.

Based on these interviews, according to Mr. Pickering, focus groups will be established to address several issues where residents feel there is a need for improvement. Action projects will then be developed to find solutions, with a report expected to be presented to the Borough Council by June of 1998, Mrs. McGovern said. The borough may apply for an All-American Cities designation by the spring of 2000, she added.

Ms. Weiner, who holds a master’s degree in public administration, has been involved with the Fanwood Community Assessment Committee since its inception as a volunteer facilitator, and was later hired as a consultant for $15,000. She is President of Richard Boris Management Developers in Westfield and is an adjunct professor at Kean College of New Jersey in Union.

The Borough Council had allocated $5,000 in its 1997 budget for the Fanwood assessment project, and the remainder of the consultant’s fee was paid for with $10,000 in federal Community Development funds. Among previous projects paid for with Community Development monies have been renovations to Fanwood parks and alterations required under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Last summer, students enrolled in Kean College’s Graduate School of Public Administration worked with the committee and Ms. Weiner on designing the pending assessment and how it would be conducted. Mrs. McGovern, who is serving on the committee as a resident, commended the graduate students for helping the group "to focus on how we would go about doing a community assessment."

Prior to the agenda meeting, representatives of the RBA Group of Morristown made their final presentation to the council of their downtown revitalization plan for Fanwood. The RBA’s plan was developed based on a recent reconnaissance of the downtown and input from members of the Fanwood Downtown Redevelopment Committee, headed by Mr. Molenaar, as well as local officials and citizens.

Included in the brief presentation were a color diagram of proposed improvements along South, Martine and La Grande Avenues. The diagram depicted conceptual parking, parking lots, proposed landscape improvements and consolidation of dumpsters belonging to the stores. Company representatives also presented several slides featuring before-and-after illustrations of how the rear entrances of downtown stores, as well as service station lots, could be spruced up.

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TheWestfield Leader.
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10/25/97.

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