OUR 108th YEAR ISSUE NO. 17- 98 FIFTY CENTS 232- 4407
The Westfield Leader Serving the Town Since 1890
Thursday, April 23, 1998 USPS 680020 Periodical Postage Paid at Westfield, N. J.
Published Every Thursday
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NEW UNDERPASS WITH HISTORIC TILES HIGHLIGHT OF PROJECT
NJ Transit, Local Officials Celebrate Work Completion
On Station Improvements
David B. Corbin for The Westfield Leader
BETTER THAN EVER... Westfield Mayor Thomas C. Jardim, left, artist Stacey Farley, second from left, and NJ Transit Executive Director Shirley A. DeLibero, center, cut the ribbon to officially dedicate the handicapped accessible improvements and new pedestrian underpass at the Westfield Train Station. Looking on are state Assemblyman Alan M. Augustine of Scotch Plains, and former Westfield Mayor Bud C. Boothe, far right. The dedication ceremony represented the culmination of the $6.2 million project, which took 17 months to complete.
By PAUL J. PEYTON
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
NJ Transit, town officials, commuter leaders and residents gathered last Thursday to dedicate the newly improved Westfield Train Station. Westfield, with 1,750 daily riders, is the busiest station on the Raritan Valley Commuter Line.
The $6.2 million project, which began in November of 1996, includes two new, handicapped accessible, 625- foot- long, high- level platforms; two elevators and a new commuter underpass with murals depicting Westfield's history.
The project also includes canopies to cover sections of the platforms, as well as stairs, ramps, shelters and windscreens.
The highlight of the project is the new pedestrian underpass which was shifted 100 feet to the east of the former underpass and which in cludes 18 murals recalling Westfield's
history, with an emphasis on transportation. The new underpass is also the main link for individuals to get from the south to the north side of town and vice versa. The underpass is more centrally located, brighter and more spacious as compared to the now defunct tunnel, which NJ Transit Executive Director Shirley A. DeLibero described as "outdated" and "narrow."
Two elevators were installed, one on each side of the new passageway, to allow passengers with disabilities and those who have trouble climbing steps access to the new high- level platforms.
Other improvements made in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act include restroom renovations, the expansion of doorways, and the creation of a low- level writing surface near the ticket window.
The tiles that align the walls of the new passageway were each made by hand with porcelain clay and fired to 2400 degrees Fahrenheight. Each tile had to be fired anywhere between three and five times, with the color put in by hand.
The tiles were designed and created by Stacey Farley of Garrison, New York, a graduate of Westfield High School and Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. She also has a bachelor's degree in art and a master's degree in fine arts from the University of Illinois, and has studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Arts.
In concluding her remarks, the artist said she hopes the community "enjoys the murals for many years to come."
Ms. DeLibero said the completion of this and other projects is part of the agency's "reaffirmation" of its "commitment" to New Jersey citizens.
NJ Transit, the third largest transit system in the country, is now in its eighth consecutive year without a fare increase.
Noting the community's "very rich transportation history," she said the tiles, when viewed daily by commuters, are sure to "rekindle memories of the past, either of their early years commuting by train or of the times they went to the train station to welcome their parents home from work."
"This station is more than a critical transit link for the community, it is also an historic monument," Ms. DeLibero said.
The 18 murals are part of NJ Transit's First Transit Arts Project, which takes funds set aside in each construction project budget and uses the money to create artwork intended to enhance the station. The Arts program was developed by NJ Transit in 1994 "as an integral component of the Hudson- Bergen Light Rail Transit System," according Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the transit agency.
In addition to Westfield and the Hudson- Bergen project which is still under development transit art is also planned for the Rahway, Lyons and Matawan stations, Penn Stations in New York and Newark, and the Southern New Jersey Light Rail Transit System.
Ms. Farley, a native of Westfield, was selected by NJ Transit from a field of 16 candidate artists. She was given a $35,000 contract to complete the work.
The artist said the murals were "truly a collaborative piece." She reCONTINUED
ON PAGE 10 CONTINUED ON PAGE 10
Spring Fling Rescheduled
Due to inclement weather last weekend, the Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce has rescheduled the fourth annual "Spring Fling" Street Fair in downtown Westfield for this Sunday, April 26, from noon until 6 p. m.
The event will feature an array of activities and exhibits for the entire family, including art, crafts, food, music and children's events. Admission is free.
The following streets will be closed on Sunday beginning at 6 a. m. to vehicular traffic for the activities: East Broad Street from North Avenue to Central Avenue, all of Quimby Street, Elm Street from North Avenue to the Texaco Station, and ProsChamber
of Commerce To Mark Anniversary With Special '48 Night
The Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce originally began as The Westfield Business Association on April 27, 1948.
According, to the original charter, "The aims and purposes of the organization were to create greater opportunities for business within the town, to cooperate in every way to further the interests of legitimate business and to assist in making Westfield a better place in which to live."
The goals of the Westfield Chamber today are quite similar, said Chamber Executive Director Debbie Schmidt.
"The chamber continues today as a voluntary partnership, working to gether to build a healthy economy
and improve the quality of life for the Westfield Area," explained Chamber Chairman Stan Baum, proprietor of Scott's Shoes.
Mayor Thomas C. Jardim has designated April 27 as "Chamber Charter Day" in Westfield. The public is invited to participate in the celebration by submitting answers to a 1948 quiz about Westfield. Geralyn Keating, from Westfield Tire, worked with former Town Historian Ralph Jones of the Westfield Historical Society, to create a fun questionnaire to test the community's knowledge about Westfield.
Participants are invited to fill in
CONTINUED ON PAGE 10
EILEEN SATKIN TO JOIN SCHOOL BOARD AT TUESDAY, APRIL 28, MEETING
Westfield School Board of Education Budget Passes; Tuesday Election Draws Only a 12 Percent Turnout
By JILL LOEWER
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
In a low turnout, voters in Tuesday's election passed the Westfield Board of Education budget by a margin of 69 percent, in a year in which there was an uncontested race for three vacancies on the board.
The voter turnout was 12 percent, compared to last year's turnout of 20 percent, and 21 percent in 1996 both years which featured contested races.
School board candidates Ginger Hardwick, Eileen Satkin, and Darielle M. Walsh, all unopposed, were elected with 1,851, 1,789, and 1,659 votes, respectively. The school board elections have not been uncontested in recent memory. In 1997, six candidates ran for three open seats.
The total budget of $52,016,848 will be supported by a tax levy of $45,793,665, with the remainder of the funds coming from state and federal funding. This will translate into a tax increase of $104 per year on an average Westfield home assessed at $174,000.
Among the budget appropriations will be various programs, including teacher training, as well as new com puters for mathematics skills, new
textbooks, seven new teaching positions, and improvements in support of the district's technology initiative.
In an interview with The Westfield Leader, Susan Jacobson, Board of Education President, said "The new budget was designed to continue the long- term commitment to technology improvements in our schools.
"We will also need to address the issue of increasing enrollment. We have increased the classroom capacity at the elementary school level, and now we need solutions for the other schools," she observed.
Finance Committee Chairman Keith S. Hertell, who was instrumental in the planning of this year's budget, along with school officials,
said "funds have been earmarked for staff training in computer skills, and in the area of new curriculums."
In the school board elections, incumbents Mrs. Walsh and Ms. Hardwick, as well as former board member Mrs. Satkin, were elected to fill the three board seats that are expiring this year. Each will serve a
David B. Corbin for The Westfield Leader
UNITED FRONT Members of the New Jersey Mid- State Area Local of the American Postal Workers Union demonstrate outside the Westfield Post Office earlier this week for a one- day protest which began at noon on Tuesday. The picket line was organized to focus attention on what the union claims are unfair work practices at the town post office.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 10
FIREMEN ATTEND HEARING TO PROTEST 'RUMOR' OF PAID STAFF CUTS
Council Adopts $22.92 Mil. Budget, 7- 2; Use of Sale Of Assets Funds Draws Concerns by Former Mayor
By PAUL J. PEYTON
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
Although the Westfield Town Council passed the 1998 municipal budget of $22,923,211 Tuesday night by a 7- 2 vote, the public hearing drew some strong concerns about the direction the council was headed in both from the types of projects it was funding and on how the governing body controls tax increases.
Last month, the council went into private session after Fourth Ward Councilman Lawrence A. Goldman stated he could not support a four tax point increase in the municipal spending plan.
Following the discussion, another $180,000 which is equal to one tax point, or one penny per $100 of assessed valuation was taken from the sale of town assets account, a revenue source, and used to fund operating costs.
The move dropped the impact on taxpayers to a tax hike of three cents,
or $52.50, on the average assessed home in Westfield of $175,000.
Third Ward Councilman Neil F. Sullivan, Jr., who voted against the budget, opposed the council's decision to use the assets money which he said was mainly funds obtained through the sale of municipal- owned land to fund the daily operations of the town.
He said if the money was to be utilized, it should be in areas on the capital side that will have more longterm impact on the town.
Surplus funds are those in excess of revenue of taxes collected in 1997, and unspent funds from 1996.
He called the practice of using moneys from the sale of town land to fund town operations "financially imprudent and dishonest." He said by doing this, the council is "setting itself up" for a tax increase in future years as much as 10 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.
He indicated that with members of the council up for election this year,
they decided it would look better to cut another tax point than to save the money and draw on it over a longer period of time, thus preserving it for future generations.
Mayor Thomas C. Jardim, who cast the other negative vote, said he believes further cuts could have been achieved by the council in such areas as deferred charges and other appropriations, which come to $240,500 the same as last year and the amount included as reserve to fund uncollected taxes. The reserve for uncollected taxes in this year's budget is $1,850,000 down $50,000 from 1997.
Councilman Sullivan, who said he had asked for legitimate cost savings recommendations from Mayor Jardim, instead described the recommendations on budget cuts, as outlined by the Mayor, as merely budgetary "gimmicks."
In response, Mayor Jardim said he thought that the council had agreed
at a retreat earlier this year to keep name calling and personal attacks out of the council discussions.
Resident Karen Mortenson, in referring to comments made by Mayor Jardim earlier this year, questioned whether he had a "game plan" as to where cuts could be made if the council was to develop a budget without a tax hike, as supported by the Mayor.
Mayor Jardim noted that his budget observations were supported by the majority of the governing body, and thus no further cuts in the tax levy would be made this year.
Former Mayor Bud C. Boothe, of Hawthorne Drive, was critical of a number of aspects in the budget. He said he was not in favor of the town spending $100,000 of its own money to purchase the former Excellent Diner site, now a vacant parcel, in order to turn it into a "pocket park" through a matching grant program being offered this year by the Union
CONTINUED ON PAGE 10
Page 10 Thursday, April 23, 1998 The Westfield Leader The Westfield Leader and THE TIMES of Scotch Plains Fanwood A WATCHUNG COMMUNICATIONS, INC. PUBLICATION
ferred to the photographers who took the pictures on which her murals were based as the "unsung heroes" the majority of which were anonymous.
"The goal of my designs was first and foremost to make the site beautiful. My second goal was to make it educational," she explained.
The artist said that prior to the arrival of train travel in Westfield, the municipality was a "sleepy, tiny, farming community. It was orchards, dairies and farmland."
Ms. Farley explained that the first train arrived in town on a wooden track nearly 150 years ago, traveling at a speed slower than a horse could trot.
The train system made its first dramatic change in 1864 upon the completion of the Newark Bay Bridge, thus enabling direct train service from Westfield to Jersey City, with a connecting ferry to Manhattan. Prior to that, commuters had to take a stage coach and row boat or a sail boat to get to New York.
"Clearly no one was commuting at that time," she said.
The train, Ms. Farley said, created the suburbs and, in the process, "Westfield was transformed."
The scenes depicted in the tiles are from the 1880s through the 1920s. The artist said she utilized photographs that would easily reproduce and which featured transportation themes a train, ferry, trolley, horse and wagon, horseback riders and the first automobile in the town.
"I chose men, women and children to make the pictures (come) alive," she said.
Mayor Thomas C. Jardim said the tiles depict a Westfield when there was far less development and people. However, he noted that, then as now, "the railroad was the central focus of the town and was the vital transportation link for Westfield and its residents."
He said Ms. Farley "has poured the history of this town into these tiles."
In noting the work of the Westfield Raritan Valley Commuter Line Commission, Mayor Jardim said Westfield will continue to work with NJ Transit and the other towns along the Raritan line to improve the commute for daily riders on the line work that has already begun.
Assemblyman Alan M. Augustine of Scotch Plains, who represents Westfield in the 22nd Legislative District, said Ms. Farley's murals "are so typical of the class of which everybody always does things in Westfield."
State Senate President Donald T. DiFrancesco of Scotch Plains, who also serves the 22nd District, said in a letter read by former Mayor Bud C. Boothe, that Ms. Farley's murals "will be enjoyed for generations to come" and will "further enrich a town which
its residents are proud to call home." Mr. Boothe said the development of the rail system in Westfield in 1839 was perhaps the "defining moment in the development of the community."
He noted that 100 years ago, one out of every six residents took the train to New York.
Noting the potential impact new construction at the station could have on the ambiance of the downtown, Mr. Boothe said that when he was first contacted by NJ Transit officials, he got in touch with the Westfield Historical Society, the Historical Preservation Association and the Architectural Review Board to get their feedback on the project.
Mr. Boothe said a review by these groups of the construction plans resulted in a number of decisions on the final outcome, including masonry chosen for the pedestrian passageway, the height of the elevator towers which were intended to be as least intrusive as possible to the community and the selection of the lamp posts on the new platforms and railings.
In terms of the passageway masonry, Ms. DeLibero noted that the concrete used resembles the original stonework of the station.
NJ Transit, Local Officials Celebrate Station Completion
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
WESTFIELD POLICE BLOTTER TUESDAY, APRIL 14
· A Westfield resident reported an incident of theft by deception, in which someone opened two cellular telephone accounts using her information, according to police.
· A West Broad Street resident reported that unknown individuals damaged his automobile.
· A Garwood man reported that a juvenile damaged his vehicle by striking it with a plastic ball on Downer Street.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 15
· A Rahway Avenue resident reported that someone forced entry into her house and stole silverware, a camera and jewelry.
· Robert Pierson, 20, of Plainfield, was arrested at South and Summit Avenues and charged with being an unlicensed driver and on a contempt of court warrant out of Dunellen Municipal Court, according to police. Bail was set at $225 on the Westfield charge, and $112 on the warrant.
· William Bibbs, 33, of Plainfield, was arrested in the 600 block of South Avenue and charged with driving with a revoked license and with obstruction of administration of the law, for allegedly giving false information to police, authorities said.
He was also taken into custody on contempt of court warrants from Watchung and Garwood, according to police. The total bail amount was set at $5,030.
THURSDAY, APRIL 16
· A woman living in the 500 block of West Broad Street reported that her vehicle was damaged through criminal mischief outside her home.
· According to police, a Westfield woman reported that her motor vehicle was damaged due to criminal mischief while parked on Pierson Street.
· A representative of the Westfield Board of Education reported that a spotlight was damaged and a wooden pole was broken at the Wilson Elementary
School on Linden Avenue.
· A Parsippany resident reported the theft of an air compressor from Minisink Way.
· Police reported that someone damaged a motor vehicle which was parked on West Broad Street by pouring motor oil over it, breaking eggs on it and spraypainting the automobile.
FRIDAY, APRIL 17
· A South Avenue business reported that $40 in cash was stolen from the register in the office area of the building.
· A theft report was filed by a resident of Maple Street, who told police someone stole several supermarket gift certificates from her home.
· A woman's apparel store on East Broad Street reported the theft of $400 worth of clothing.
· A Hillcrest Avenue resident reported receiving harassing telephone calls late at night between April 13 and April 17.
· Police responded to a verbal dispute between two individuals known to each other in the 500 block of Central Avenue. No charges have been filed in connection with the incident, authorities said.
SATURDAY, APRIL 18
· A Myrtle Avenue resident reported that his 1982 Volvo was stolen from the parking lot of a South Avenue convenience store. It had not been recovered as of earlier this week, police confirmed.
· Police reported that a juvenile scratched the fender and the door of a motor vehicle while it was parked on North Avenue.
MONDAY, APRIL 20
· A resident of Scotch Plains Avenue reported that unknown persons entered her garage and broke the passenger side window of her husband's 1998 Subaru Wagon.
TUESDAY, APRIL 21
· Police reported the theft of a registration card from a motor vehicle belonging to a Plainfield resident, which occurred at West Broad Street and Osborn Avenue. pect Street from North Avenue to
Ferris Place. Parking is prohibited in the Spring Fling area all day Sunday. Downtown businesses in the area should advise employees not to park in the activity area or in the municipal lots surrounding the activity area.
Downtown residents are reminded not to park on those streets during Spring Fling, but park instead in municipal lots, which will have access from the closed streets if cars are parked by 8 a. m. and remain in the lots until 7: 30 p. m.
Pets, skateboarding, and roller blading are prohibited in the Spring Fling area. This rule is for the safety of attendees of all ages, and also for the safety of the animals.
Spring Fling attendees are encouraged to park in the train station lot on South Avenue. This will provide the closest access to the activity area, with easy access to North Avenue through the new underpass, recently opened by NJ Transit.
For further information, please call the Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce at (908) 233- 3021.
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
Spring Fling Rescheduled
the answers, and return and the entries to the Chamber office, located at 111 Quimby Street, by this Friday, April 24. Three winners will be announced at the diner at Windmill Restaurant on Monday, April 27. Prizes include a $25 Westfield Gift Coin.
Residents are invited to a "Charter Day" Celebration this Monday, April 27, featuring a 1948- style dinner starting at 5: 30 p. m. at the WindMill Restaurant. The dinner will include
Merchants Take Steps To Form Organization
The following is a reprint of an article that originally appeared in The Westfield Leader on Thursday, April 29, 1948 announcing the formation of, what would become, The Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce.
Wynant B. Cole of the Sports Center was elected president of the new townwide Westfield Business Association at an organization meeting held Tuesday morning in the Rialto Theatre. William Needell of the NeeDell Shoe Stores was elected first vice president and Nathaniel Cohen of the Made- In- America store, second vice president. Al Buist, manager of the Rialto Theatre, was elected executive secretary and treasurer.
Mayor Charles P. Bailey, speaking briefly, commended the organization of a business group and promised co- operation of the Town Council. Walter Burd of the Playfair, reported for a committee appointed last week to study the organization of the new group and to make recommendations for its activities. Other members of the group were Mr. Cole and Mr. Cohen. Their report suggested among other activities: Christmas decorations, action on the parking problem, special sales events, a credit bureau and a 75 per cent vote to carry any measure proposed.
Meetings will be held once a month, with the next one scheduled for Tuesday, May 11 at the theatre at 10 o'clock. All business men and women are urged to attend. Professional people will also be asked to join the organization.
Mr. Cole appointed Mr. Needell as chairman of a committee to prepare a constitution and by- laws and Mr. Burd as chairman of the membership committee.
a hot dog or hamburger, fries, and a small drink, followed by a special showing of the 1948 film Treasure of the Sierra Madre, starring Humphrey Bogart, at the Rialto Theatre, at 7 p. m.. Cake and coffee will be served.
Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door, and are available along with copies of the 1948 Westfield Quiz, at Rorden Realty, the WindMill Restaurant, The Westfield Leader,
Brunner's Opticians, Copies Now and Scott Shoes.
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
Chamber of Commerce To Mark Anniversary Newcomers Club Sponsors
Spring Party and Egg Hunt
The Newcomers Club of Westfield held its annual Children's Spring Party and Easter Egg Hunt on April 4 in the Community Room of the Municipal Building on East Broad Street.
The event included crafts for the children and an appearance by the Easter Bunny. The Children's Committee organizes field trips and holiday parties for the children of members, in addition to coordinating age
BUNNY FUN The Easter Bunny greets youngsters during the Newcomers Club of Westfield's recent Spring Party and Easter Egg Hunt. The organization, which is geared to new Westfield residents or those who have experienced a recent lifestyle change, sponsors various activities for members and their children throughout the year.
based play groups. Additional events within the club include a monthly book group, social activities for couples, and a monthly dinner for women, according to club spokeswoman Robin Quick.
The Newcomers Club is open to those who are new to Westfield, or have had a recent lifestyle change such as a birth, marriage, job change, or a move within Westfield.
For additional information, please call Melissa Stanton, Enrollment Coordinator, at (908) 518- 0981.
Windmill/ Bogart 2x6 1/ 2
three- year term on the nine- member school board.
Ms. Hardwick, who was first elected to the board in 1995, will begin her second term. She has chaired the Curriculum, Instruction and Programs Committee the past two years. She said she is looking forward to ongoing efforts by the school board regarding curriculum improvements, and the issue of increased enrollments.
Mrs. Satkin chaired the Programs and Policies Committee and served on the Facilities, Long Range Planning and Attorney Selection Committees.
The board member- elect, who served on the school board from 1992 to 1995, will take the seat being vacated this year by Mr. Hertell, who opted not to seek reelection to a second term.
Mrs. Satkin indicated that she plans to focus on strengthening the curriculum in the intermediate schools.
Mrs. Walsh, who is currently Vice President of the school board, has served as a member of the board for the last six years. She was elected to her third term on Tuesday.
She has been a member of the Town Relations, Board/ Staff, Curriculum and Programs and Policy Committees, and has served as an alternate member to the Finance Committee.
She has chaired the Facilities Committee the past four years, and said she is looking forward to continuing her efforts toward improvements in the school's facilities.
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
Board of Ed. Budget Passes Recent
Home Sales WESTFIELD
J. A. and D. T. Berez to Steven and Marilyn Blum, 53 Barchester Way, $358,000.
B. W. and G. M. Jeffreys to Scott and Teresa Pavlak, 560 Colonial Avenue, $600,000.
K. W. Hoffman and V. A. Andersen to Luigi Carchia and Ellen K. Bolander, 552 Pierson Street, $190,000.
Schuyler Saving Bank to Samuel Boyarsky, 124 Cacciola Place, $96,900.
P. E. and K. A. Lewis to Linda M. Gelson, 1160 Lawrence Avenue, $298,500.
P. C. and J. M. Sheahan to Jay S. Schuster, 721 Clark Street, $260,000.
R. E. Keith to Hugh Richard Covington and Arlyn Covington, 709 Clark Street, $235,000.
S. M. and M. O. Stone to Paul A. and Cynthia LaFace, 619 Maple Street, $254,500.
R. Rasmussen to Anthony L. Hellwig, 1020 South Avenue West, $330,000.
E. T. Fogerty to Neil S. and Cindy Schwartz, 616 North Scotch Plains Avenue, $158,000.
B. R. Rust to Kevin Coughlin and Judy Bell, 366 South Avenue, $125,000.
T. S. and V. P. DuBose to Gary W. and Erin M. Nadeau, 249 Grove Street West, $337,000.
There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second.
Logan Pearsall Smith
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
County Board of Chosen Freeholders. Mr. Boothe said the diner location is not a good site for a park, noting that it is only about 25 or 30 feet wide and 100 feet deep. In addition, an existing building occupies a side of the proposed park, with the rest surrounded by North Avenue, a busy thoroughfare, and a well- used parking lot for downtown shoppers.
He said the site would not be desirable for senior citizens or children. Mr. Boothe said, based on the assessed valuation of the vacant parcel at $250,000 several years ago, a cost of $200,000 including the town and county funds would not be enough to obtain the property and create a park.
He also told the governing body it needs to be leery of "strings" that are often attached to grant programs. Mr. Boothe said the town needs to get a guarantee that, in the event it does not create the park, it could repay the grant with or without interest, or be able to use the money for another improvement project.
On another point, Mr. Boothe said he was "very concerned" over the use of surplus funds to pay for operating expenses.
He said although residents may not like a three or four point tax hike in their municipal taxes, "they definitely won't like it going from three or four points to eight or 10 points" which he warned could happen once surplus funds are no longer available.
He said previous governing bodies, along with town officials, worked hard to develop the surplus which he described as the "town savings bank."
Third Ward Councilman John J. Walsh, the Chairman of the Public Works Committee, noted that no final decision has been made on the purchase of the diner site. He said the governing body, though, decided to apply for the county grant before approaching the deadline for the program.
He said a number of people in town are "real tired of the Excellent Diner site looking the way it does."
Mr. Walsh said, in terms of using funds from the assets account, the current council "is not the first one to take from this account and we won't be the last one."
This year the council used $561,000 from this revenue source, down from $1 million in 1997.
Mayor Jardim said he believes the council did the best it could this year by nearly cutting in half the reliance on the assets account, as opposed to going "cold turkey."
The Mayor argued that that town has around $9 million in surplus, "and that's on a budget of $22 million."
"Quite frankly, that strikes me as inappropriate," he told those in attendance, noting the funds should be used to make capital improvements in the area of road repairs and leaf collection, or to increase the Westfield Memorial Library budget so the facility can increase its hours.
"I have continually said it's not my money; it's the taxpayers money to spend on services that they want," the Mayor explained.
In response to a question from First Ward Councilman Gregory S. McDermott, who noted that the surplus funds "are not just sitting there," Town Administrator Edward A. Gottko explained that the town generated interest on surplus funds to the tune of $800,000 last year an amount that was included in this year's budget as a revenue source.
Councilman Goldman emphasized that by cutting the amount between 1997 and 1998 by some $440,000,
despite a lack of increases in state aide, the council is in essence cutting its reliance on drawing from sale of town assets revenue.
Noting that Westfield is considered one of the most well managed, best financially run communities in New Jersey, First Ward Councilwoman Gail S. Vernick said this is because of "fiscal planning." She indicated that residents benefit by having surplus funds which generate additional revenue for the town.
"The residents pretty well have an idea that their tax increases as unfortunate as they are are pretty much the same rate (every year)," she said, explaining that there is not a big fluctuation between rates each year.
In terms of the situation with the fire department, which was represented by some 25 members, Frank Isoldi, Sr., a paid fireman for 30 years, said Westfield has benefited by having a paid fire department, which is available 24- hours- a- day, seven days a week.
Responding to what he said is a rumor that the council is considering cutbacks in paid manpower on the department, Mr. Isoldi said, "I don't think that the municipality or the people of Westfield deserve that kind of decision."
Fourth Ward Councilwoman Janis Fried Weinstein quickly responded that she would not support any cutbacks in staffing levels of the emergency services in town including the fire department. Her statement was greeted with loud applause from firefighters.
Councilman Goldman responded that no members of the council have indicated that the governing body "should do anything that would impede the public safety" services in town.
He called it political "grandstanding" by Councilwoman Weinstein "to suggest that, as a member of the council, that we would ever vote to change the staffing levels without looking into the issue and making some determination."
He said the rumor that staffing levels will be changed is "absolutely unfounded." Noting the budget discussions, Mr. Goldman indicated he feels more time needs to be put on "total personnel costs," which he said represents half of the budget, or roughly $11 million.
"It is our responsibility as a council to look at personnel costs on an aggregate basis, across the board, and make a determination on whether our personnel dollars are being spent in a manner so that residents of this town get the necessary services in all respects public safety, administration and in public works," he said.
He said, perhaps, the council will decide to increase staffing in the Public Works Department to handle road repairs, leaf collection, etc.
The council also approved the budget for the Westfield Downtown Corporation (WDC), the governing body for the downtown Special Improvement District (SID), of $265,500. A total of $110,000 is for salaries, facilities and supplies, with the rest to be used for design, promotion, economic development and the preparation of a downtown plan.
The SID budget includes funds for new ornamental lighting in the downtown, benches and trash receptacles. An expanded jazz festival from last year's "Sweet Sounds of Downtown" and a June sports event for the downtown is planned.
Another $12,500 has been appropriated to pay for the salary of a new parking system manager.
Council Adopts Budget, 7- 2; Concerns Cited on Asset Funds
FIFTY CENTS 232- 4407