A WATCHUNG COMMUNICATIONS, INC. PUBLICATION The Westfield Leader and THE TIMES of Scotch Plains – Fanwood Thursday, July 23, 1998 Page 5
Letters to the Editor
Fanwood Community House Is Seen As More Practical Location for Park
'Bottom Line' Mentality Responsible For Prospective Loss of Town Stores
'Save the Rialto' Group Also Deserves Kudos For Preserving Theater
In addition to thanking Jesse Sayegh for preserving the Rialto Theatre, the community should also recognize the "Save the Rialto" Committee.
This group of local citizens never gave up and, because of their efforts, we still have a viable movie theater in the central business district. We should be grateful to them as well. Thanks!
Sally Hanford Westfield
We are pleased that Mayor Maryanne S. Connelly and the Council of Fanwood are taking advantage of Union County Pocket Park grants. While some consider this $125,000 grant "free money," it's our county taxes being returned, which now must be matched by $125,000 in borough funds or in-kind service.
We believe that spending these funds for a passive park at the Community House would have a far greater benefit to Fanwood than the Watson Road site because of the following:
• Landscaping for a passive park at the Community House would greatly en- hance this historic site, which is the pride and focal point of Fanwood.
• More residents would use this park because of its central location, whereas the Watson Road site is isolated. Com- muters, neighboring residents (includ- ing Watson Road), people attending Community House meetings and func- tions, and people attending weekend events such as flea markets and car shows, all would benefit from a beautifully- landscaped passive park at the Commu- nity House.
• This area is currently maintained by the Department of Public Works so there would be no additional maintenance cost, whereas the Watson Road site would probably require an outside maintenance contract.
• The Watson Road site could gener- ate tax ratables because it is buildable for two or three homes. The revenue from the sale of this property, estimated to be $70,000 to $80,000, would provide the borough's share of matching funds, elimi- nating any burden on taxpayers for a pocket park.
We recommend that a cost/benefit com- parison of the Community House prop- erty, the Watson Road site and the Mid- way Circle be conducted to determine how much this "free money" is going to cost the Fanwood taxpayer.
Greg Cummings, Chairman Jack Molenaar, Vice Chairman
Fanwood Planning Board
Your recent article "Elm St. Busi- nesses Lose Leases in Favor of National Retailer" was both enlightening and de- pressing. Enlightening because it brought into focus the bottom line mentalities of the heirs of the owners of downtown real estate. Depressing because Tim, the cour- teous gentleman who takes real pride in constructing customized sandwiches, will probably not be downtown any more.
Gary Goodman speaks of "a more stable tenancy" for his family's Elm Street prop- erty. What nonsense. The deli has been there for 35 years, plus 18 under the previous deli owner. Backroom Antiques has been in the same location for 20 years.
Mr. Goodman states that his family's building "is a good location that's under- rented." After the upgrading of the retail space of this building and a more sub- stantial rent is being paid to the owners, will the town re-appraise and increase their taxes? That's what happens to homeowners. Does it happen to land- lords of commercial property?
There seems to be an overabundance of doublespeak about empty stores and negative feeling, a desire for high rent retailers, a mix of independent shops and national chains.
This is a bad dream — banks, real estate offices, restaurants, and many min- iature versions of mall stores, all without a mall roof and adequate parking.
Small business owners, courage! We like and respect your courtesy, determi- nation, and sometimes funky individual- ity compared to the casual, impersonal and sometimes rude treatment by na- tional chain store employees.
Carol S. La Pierre Westfield
HIGHEST HONOR…Anthony John Attanasio of Boy Scout Troop No. 39, under the direction of Scoutmaster Robert Rietzke, recently received the highest rank in scouting — Eagle Scout. A 1998 graduate of Westfield High School, Anthony will attend St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia in the fall, where he plans to major in political science. Pictured with Anthony at his Court of Honor, left to right, are: Westfield Councilwomen Janis Fried Weinstein and Gail S. Vernick, and Assemblyman Richard H. Bagger, who presented Anthony with a signed joint proclamation from the New Jersey State Assembly and the Senate in honor of his achievement.
Chamber of Commerce Board Wants to Preserve
The Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors held their monthly meeting on July 15. Chamber members said that West- field is a vital and thriving downtown, claiming it is one of the few remaining in New Jersey.
According to Westfield attorney Carl Peer, who is on the Board, "West- field has a wonderful and very unique mix of retail and service businesses. If the balance of stores becomes uneven in the future, it will adversely affect the whole downtown. The small inde- pendent businesses need to remain in Westfield to maintain this existing bal- ance. Without them, Westfield loses its special quality, the core of local businesses that makes it distinctive from other downtowns and malls."
Board member Jubb W. Corbet, Jr., a long-time Westfield resident and businessman, claimed that as larger retail chain stores move into the down- town, rents are increasing dramati- cally.
"If the small retailer, who has al- ways been the mainstay of downtown Westfield, is unable to afford the higher rents, it leaves them no choice but to close or relocate their business. Land- lords are also attracted by higher rents offered by the chain stores, and may decide not to renew the leases of their long-time tenants. A short-term real estate profit does not always translate into a long-term gain for the property owner," according to Mr. Corbet.
Chamber directors indicated in a statement they felt that affordable re- tail space is becoming harder for the smaller merchant to find. Many of the independent businesses have been in Westfield through good times and bad, chamber directors claimed, and have managed to be successful for many years. They deserve the opportunity to stay, the group insisted.
"The Chamber does not want to see any successful business forced to leave their established location against their will," said Debbie Schmidt, Execu-
tive Director of the Chamber. Members of the Chamber Board members indicated that the smaller businesses are looking for support from the business community, the town government, and residents.
The directors said small business owners want everyone in Westfield to be involved in deciding the future make-up of the downtown, rather than having it dictated by what they de- scribed as "outside interests."
In the past, the Chamber said, resi- dents and the Chamber rallied sup- port for local businesses by defeating plans for a proposed mall on the edge of town. Chamber directors also re- called the "Save the Rialto" citizen group that successfully steered the neighborhood theater into the arms of an independent owner when it was threatened with closure.
Stan Baum, Chamber Chairman said, "Input from the businesses and the residents can make a difference in determining Westfield's future. The Chamber Board encourages individu- als to speak up and let their prefer- ences be heard."
Mr. Corbet stated that, "Indepen- dent retailers offer customers person- alized service by the owner of the establishment, who often knows the customer's name and family. Shop- pers truly enjoy being recognized by their local merchants."
"Small businesses also generously support the local community organi- zations. They buy advertisements in programs and donate merchandise to be used as prizes for events. The loy- alty of the independent retailer to the Westfield community needs to be ap- preciated and valued," he added.
Finally, Chamber directors agreed in their written statement" that the Chamber of Commerce should con- tinue to support "a healthy business climate and preserve small businesses as an integral part of the balance that makes Westfield a wonderful place to live, work and shop."
FRESH WARES...Residents shop the Scotch Plains Farmers Market last Saturday morning – until 2 p.m. – at the Municipal Building parking lot on Park Avenue in downtown. New Jersey farmers provide the produce while Scotch Plains Business and Professional Association arranges the event weekly, through October.
Congressman Franks Urges Federal Tax Reform
Congresssman Bob Franks, Re- publican from the Seventh District, said in June that the State Assembly passage of a "Scrap the Tax" is an important step forward on the road to fundamental tax reform.
A spokesman for Congressman Franks said he has been one of the leaders in the national movement to scrap the federal income tax.
According to Mr. Franks, "If fun- damental tax reform is to become a reality, taxpayers across the country must stand up and demand change. I urge the Senate to follow the Assembly's lead and pass the 'Scrap the Tax' public question. It would give New Jersey voters an opportu- nity to help drive the tax reform to the top of the national agenda."
"A strong showing of support from New Jersey taxpayers can help pres- sure the Senate and the President to stand up to the special interests, abol- ish the current tax system and de- velop a simpler and fairer way to finance the essential services of the federal government," he said.
"There is no issue that captures more public interest and anger than the current federal income tax code. Recently, more than 6,000 of my constituents responded to a survey and voiced their strong support for scrapping the current tax code The public is fed up with a system that's
impossible to understand, incredibly expensive to enforce and loaded up with loopholes designed to help only the wealthy and the powerful special interests," according to Congress- man Franks.
A spokesman for the congressman said that in June, the House passed the "Tax Code Termination Acts" that would give Congress four years to come up with a new system for collecting federal taxes.
Mr. Franks said "Despite the strong show of support in the House, the battle over tax reform is far from over. The special interests are wag- ing an all-out effort to kill the bill in the Senate. Through a New Jersey ballot question, voters can fight back against the special interests and de- mand a simpler and fairer tax sys- tem."
Lisa Tobelmann Earns Perfect 4.0 at Houghton
Lisa Tobelmann of Westfield, a junior at Houghton College in Houghton, New York, was named to the Dean's Honor List for the Spring 1998 semester.
All 185 students on the list achieved a grade point average of 3.75 or higher and are carrying full-time course loads of at least 12 credit hours.
Lisa is one of 55 students on the list who earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average.