Maryanne S. Connelly By MICHELLE H. LePOIDEVIN
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times
Does it really matter whether or not the bestsellers you buy come from Westfield bookstores or the future Barnes & Noble, earmarked for the site of the former Clark ShopRite? Can prescriptions and pharmacy needs be better served by Westfield pharmacies or the new Rite Aid? Do you feel the Southwestern fare at the Mojave Grille will have any competition at the new Chili’s?
And, what do you think about the rat problem which has resulted from the excavation work and at the razed Clark Lanes on Central Avenue near the Westfield border, which will be the site for all of these new stores?
As a result of several interviews,
The Westfield Leader and The Times
discovered many differing opinions about the new renovations and found fears about rodents in the Westfield area are diminishing.
Westfield Mayor Thomas C. Jardim said he believes that the renovations on Central Avenue may actually benefit Westfield commerce.
“I think it will pull more people off the highway (Garden State Parkway) into Clark and then ultimately into Westfield,” he said. “I don’t view it as a competition.”
Joan Gregorio of the Christian Science Reading Room on Quimby Street agrees with Mayor Jardim.
“I don’t believe it can hurt us in any way,” she concurred.
She said that some of the literature from her store is also featured at
Barnes & Noble. “Our store is just a service to the community and a quiet place to read our literature,” she concluded. “Wherever our books are sold is great.”
For Larry Salinas, Vice President and part owner of The Book Lover’s Outlet on South Avenue, East, the construction of the Barnes & Noble came as no surprise. He stated his store was “opened with full knowledge” of the pending new bookseller in Clark, and that he does not believe the new store will affect his business, because it is a different venue.
He continued by adding, “The Book Lover’s Outlet offers a wide variety of out-of-print books, and the ambiance and atmosphere of a Barnes & Noble.
“You can’t run away from competition,” he said, adding that “it creates a synergy that helps businesses thrive.”
Grace Roth, who along with her husband owns The Town Book Store on East Broad Street, said, “I don’t think there is a need for it. It’s going to take away from the Barnes & Noble in Springfield more than us.”
She said that people would find themselves going to the new store if they wanted to have some cappuccino and browse for hours. She added that her store provides a “more personal service” and they serve a “different clientele.”
Westfield resident Evelyn Goski, of Massachusetts Street, commented
on the future Rite Aid in stating, “We have drug stores in Westfield and some of the small ones in our area may get pushed out.”
Clark residents Deb and Jamie Marino of Picton Street, believe that the new book store will be a welcome convenience but concluded, “It is going to be a disaster with all of the traffic. Traffic is going to be worse than ever.”
Daniel Nydick, a waiter at The Mojave Grille on North Avenue, believes that it was not ideal for a Chili’s to be constructed on Central Avenue.
“There are already too many restaurants in the area. It detracts from businesses in Westfield. There are too many choices to make. People will go for what is easy and cheap when coming off the highway,” he commented.
He believes the reconstruction will not lead to a healthy attitude of competition in the area.
The renovations on Central Avenue have posed more concerns to Westfield and Clark residents than just competition and commerce. Residents have grave concerns about the welfare of their community due to rodents which have surfaced as a result of the excavations on Central Avenue.
A Clark resident close to the Central Avenue site, who wished to remain anonymous, stated, “This can be expected any time you demolish and excavate an area for reconstruction.”
She continued, “had precautions been taken, things wouldn’t be this bad.”
The Marinos claimed they haven’t seen any rats at all, but have heard the neighbors airing concerns about the problem.
Ms. Goski stated that she hasn’t seen any of the dreaded rodents at all.
“We’ve been pretty lucky, so far,” she said.
Dan Strohmeyer, Job Superintendent at the Central Avenue location, stated that completion of the renovations can be expected in the late fall of this year.
“I’ve been here six weeks and I haven’t seen a rat yet, except one dead one,” he said.
He concluded that baits have been set up to handle the problem.
Mayor Jardim said that immediate action was taken when he became aware of the situation. He said that he impressed upon the Westfield Health Department to answer all of the questions from Westfield residents, and encouraged officials to allay their fears.
He said, “It takes a while for the bait to work and we will just wait until then.”
Westfield to Receive Assistance For Bicycle/Pedestrian Safety
Westfield Mayor Thomas C. Jardim has announced that the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s (NJDOT) Bureau of Mobility Strategies has approved Westfield’s application for Local Bicycle/Pedestrian Planning Assistance.
“The Town of Westfield has a long tradition of community-based planning and citizen involvement, and is actively working to enhance bicycle and pedestrian traffic and safety throughout the community. This is especially true in the central business district and in the areas surrounding our schools,” the Mayor stated.
The award of planning assistance from the state DOT will, for the first time, allow the town to formulate a comprehensive plan of pedestrian and bicycle safety for the entire town, according to Mayor Jardim.
Third Ward Councilman Neil F. Sullivan, who chairs the council’s Transportation, Parking and Traffic Committee and who formerly chaired the Public Safety Committee, noted that the town has budgeted $25,000 in the municipal spending plan for the implementation of “traffic calming devices.”
“This (funding from the DOT’s Bureau of Mobility Strategies) will enable the town to spend those monies most effectively,” he added, noting that 85 percent of the plan would focus on areas in the central business district and near schools.
First Ward Councilwoman Gail S. Vernick, who chairs the council’s Public Safety Committee said, “Since bringing the pedestrian safety signs to the town in 1995 I have always felt that the safety of our citizens, of all ages, is of paramount importance
and directly effects the quality of life in Westfield.”
She said she plans “to work closely with the consultant to alert him to the various intersections and school crossings which need further attention.”
Both Mrs. Vernick and Mr. Sullivan cited the efforts of Assemblyman Richard H. Bagger in helping gain Westfield’s acceptance into the DOT program.
Mayor Jardim, who noted the bipartisan effort in gaining the town’s approval to the DOT program, said implementation of the plan would help solve a persistent concern of parents and school and municipal officials over the danger of vehicular speeding in Westfield.
A group of local volunteers called BRAKES (Bikers, Runners, and Kids are Entitled to Safety), formed in the winter of 1997, has been working to identify areas of concern and has initiated programs to educate vehicle operators of the need for greater safety, Mayor Jardim noted.
The NJDOT’S Bureau of Mobility Strategies will make the services of a consultant team with expertise on local bicycle and pedestrian planning available to the town to provide technical assistance for planning activities for non-motorized modes, according to the Mayor.
Mayor Jardim said he favors a comprehensive long-range plan as proposed which addresses the town as a whole — similar to those in place in Princeton and Colonia.
The Mayor said enforcing speeding laws and creating bike paths would be among those areas he would like to see addressed by the consultant.
Marilyn Schaeffner Receives Foundation Scholarship
Marilyn Schaeffner, a teacher at Westfield High School in Westfield, has been selected as a scholarship recipient by the Indianapolis-based Insurance Education Foundation (IEF).
Ms. Schaeffner was one of 250 secondary educators selected to attend one of six IEF High School Teachers’ Insurance Education Institutes.
The College of Insurance hosted the two-week institute which Ms. Schaeffner attended along with 40 other teachers from 16 states. Located in New York City, the college has hosted the national program for 10 years.
Taught by insurance professors, the IEF Institute curriculum includes instruction in all lines of insurance; how the insurance business works, and how to teach insurance effectively to teenagers.
The program is geared toward business, social studies, mathematics, economics and family and consumer sci
ence educators who teach insurance in a variety of courses, according to College of Insurance spokeswoman Kathy A. Lawson. Individuals who completed the program received three hours of graduate credit.
The IEF’s mission is to improve public understanding of the role of insurance in society through education of teachers and students, according to Ms. Lawson.
The College of Insurance offers bachelor degrees in business administration, insurance and actuarial science, and Master of Business Administration degrees in financial management, financial management of risk, insurance, risk management and actuarial science. Special certificates and designations are also offered.
For further information, please contact Executive Director Nancy Coleman, Insurance Education Foundation, P.O. Box 68700, Indianapolis, Indiana 46268 or call 1-800-IEF4811.
Area Residents Express Opinions On Central Ave. Commerical Site
Mayor Connelly Calls for Action To Protect Patients Under HMOs By SUZETTE F. STALKER
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times
Fanwood Mayor Maryanne S. Connelly, the Democratic candidate for the Seventh Congressional District, on Monday called for health care reforms which would give patients and physicians a greater voice in deciding medical treatments, and criticized Republican managed care legislation which Democrats have called inadequate.
Mrs. Connelly is challenging Republican incumbent Bob Franks to represent the Seventh District, which includes sections of Union, Middlesex, Somerset and Essex Counties. Seventeen Union County communities fall within the heavilyRepublican district, among them Fanwood, Scotch Plains, Westfield and Mountainside.
Addressing a group of senior citizens during an hour-long press conference at the home of Woodbridge resident Gus Maciolek, Mrs. Connelly and Democratic Mayor James E. McGreevey of Woodbridge argued that HMOs need to place greater emphasis on the needs of patients, who often find themselves stymied in their pursuit of appropriate health care by managed care and insurance company regulations.
The Mayors charged that the GOP Patient Protection Act – which was passed July 24 by the House of Representatives in a narrow 216 to 210 vote – does not provide sufficient protection for working families, and puts the interests of insurance companies ahead of patients and health care professionals.
The Senate is expected to vote shortly on its version of the bill. President Clinton, who has also criticized the Patient Protection Act, has threatened to veto the Republican legislation.
“I believe that patients’ needs should always come first in all health care decisions,” Mayor Connelly remarked during the press conference. “Far too many medical decisions are being made by insurance company bureaucrats and not by doctors and patients,” she added.
The two Mayors recounted stories of people who they claimed had been failed by current HMO programs. “My friend, Peggy, fractured her spine,” Mrs. Connelly said. “Due to her HMO, she will have pain the rest of her life because of their negligence.”
Mrs. Connelly expressed support for a pending new version of the Democrats’ HMO reform bill, known as the Patients’ Bill of Rights, which
was defeated by the House in another slim vote, 217 to 212, on July 24.
The Democrat and Republican bills advocate similar goals, including greater access to emergency room care; elimination of so-called “gag rules” which prohibit doctors from discussing alternative but more costly treatments or procedures with patients; granting women direct access to obstetric/gynecological services, and giving patients legal recourse in cases involving abuse or negligence by HMOs.
Congressman Franks, who is seeking his fourth term this year, outlined the Republicans’ proposal for health care reforms on July 27. “Our bill provides a whole host of new protections designed to keep health plans accountable to their promises,” he stated. “It also provides new tools to help families enforce their legal rights should their health plan wrongly deny benefits owed to them under their plan.”
Democrats maintain the Republican legislation does not cover nearly as many people as does the Patients’ Rights Bill. They also argue that reforms proposed in the Patient Protection Act are not as broad as under the Democrats’ version, and contain loopholes which could continue to restrict patients’ health care options.
According to Mayor McGreevey, “The Republican bill covers too few people, does not guarantee sufficient access to specialists and emergency rooms, and does not guarantee that patients harmed by HMOs can bring these HMOs to justice in a court of law.”
Mrs. Connelly, who was elected Mayor of Fanwood in 1995, had previously been a councilwoman for eight years and also served as the borough’s Police Commissioner. Health care reform has been a key element of her campaign platform since she announced her candidacy for Congress in March.
A resident of Fanwood for 18 years, she is the immediate Past President of New Jersey Elected Women Officials. She recently retired after 28 years with AT&T, where she was a human resources executive.
Congressman Franks, who lives in Berkeley Heights, formerly represented the 22nd Legislative District as an Assemblyman from 1979 to 1992.
Mayor McGreevey, a former state Senator, ran unsuccessfully against Republican Governor Christine Todd Whitman in last year’s gubernatorial race.
Gretchen Bowman for The Westfield Leader
COMING SOON…Residents of Westfield and Clark shared their feelings this week about new commercial development along Central Avenue in Clark, near the Westfield border. Among the changes will be a Barnes & Noble Booksellers store and Chili’s restaurant on the former site of the Clark Shop Rite.
Special Collections Currently on Display At Fanwood Library
Currently on display in the upstairs section of the Fanwood Memorial Library, of interest to adults, is Edna Smith’s collection of “Inkwells Through The Years.”
In addition, the library’s first new display of particular interest to children is 6-year-old Michele Seabrook’s collection of characters from the movie Toy Story. It is located downstairs in the library’s Fanwood Room.
Anyone with a collection for the adult display case may call Library Director Dan Weiss at (908) 3226400. Regarding anything for the library’s Children’s Department display case, please call (908) 322-4377.