CYAN YELLOW MAGENTA BLACK
Letters to the Editor
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By Michael S. Goldberger
Rushmore: Preppie Love Lesson is a Class Act
One Popcorn, Poor • Two Popcorns, Fair • Three Popcorns, Good • Four Popcorns, Excellent
David B. Corbin
The Westfield Leader
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Brightwood Proposal Seems to Conflict With Forestry Plan for Downtown
Michelle H. LePoidevin
Last week, The Westfield Leader reported a proposal by the Westfield Recreation Commission to develop the panhandle section of Brightwood Park, Westfield’s last remaining natural habitat, for use as a multi-purpose field for baseball and soccer games.
Meanwhile, the Downtown Westfield Corporation has hired a consultant to develop a street tree inventory for the downtown and a “community forestry management plan” for the town’s business district. What’s wrong with this picture?
TheBrightwoodproposal tocreateamulti-purpose field for baseball and soccer, we might add, is only that — a proposal. If this plan gains approval at some point from the Westfield Town Council it will be several years away from fruition, at best.
We do not believe the short-term needs for additionalrecreationalfields duetoimprovementsplanned for Memorial Park and Sycamore Field, along with increased enrollment in Westfield schools, warrants the taking of such a valuable park. For all intents and purposes, Westfield is fully developed today.
The town developed a huge parcel off of Prospect Street a few years ago for the Lexington Heights subdivision and, more recently, a section of Dunham Avenue. An undeveloped section of land there had beena havenovertheyears forteenagebicyclistswho set up dirt hills for jumping. But the hills were demolished by the town due to concerns of potential litigation the town might face if children were hurt. Funny thing is, the dirt hills were there for years without any serious incident, to our knowledge.
Perhapsthis landwouldbebetter suitedasanactive park instead of a bird sanctuary, as designated last yearbytheWestfield Council.Let’sleaveBrightwood the way it is. We do support the Commission’s desire to at least clean up the park and make it better known to all Westfielders. Let’s just keep it in its passive state.
In terms of the downtown, trees, benches, more receptacles, etc., will enhance the business district. We just believe a consultant was not needed for this project. A local landscaper could come up with suggestions on the number of trees needed in the downtown, while the same person or the Department of Public Works could plant them. End of discussion.
The trees are all part of the Downtown Improvement Plan for the business district, a blueprint if you will, on how this core shopping district can be enhanced over the next few years, both in appearance and in the overall business climate it presents.
Residents have probably noticed over the past year those new benches and trash receptacles at the corner of East Broad and Elm Streets, both samples of what will eventually be a familiar scene around the downtown.
Also included will be information kiosks strategically located in parking lots and other spots that generate high foot traffic. We fully support this concept to help our downtown flourish.
Let’sjust besensibleandspend moneywhereitcan pay the fastest dividends for our core business district.
Do you remember your first love? Or, perhaps more appropriately, do you think you’ll ever get over it? Pretty strong stuff, those fires of spring, huh?
If you agree, you’ll sympathize with protagonist Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman), the 15-year-old preppie who falls head over heels for the comely Mrs. Cross (Olivia Williams), a third gradeteacher attheprestigiousRushmore Academy. Thing is, this isn’t just your run-of-the-mill schoolboy crush. In zealous Max’s hands, it’s the Armageddon of adolescent life crises.
Aficionados of offbeat comedy will be charmed. More conservative viewers are apt to be put off by the movie’s whimsical daring.
Kindly Mrs. Cross, warmly exacted byOlivia Williams,isimmediatelyforthcoming with the lovesick lad. It won’t work, she carefully notes. But they can still be friends. The gentle let-down passes right over stubborn Max’s head.
Instead, learning that the object of his affection graduated from Harvard, the lacklustre student tries to impress her by suggesting a coincidence: “I’m applying to Oxford and the Sorbonne, but Harvard is my safety school.”
As Rushmore delightfully demonstrates, the bespectacled, vertically-challenged Max never does anything in a garden variety way. He is a player in training. Alwaysattiredinmonogrammed blazer and old school tie, the campus gadfly is involved in practically everything. Captain of the fencing team, president of the debate club and a member of a dozen or so other organizations, let’s not forget that the precocious preppie is also currently enjoying a term as president of Rushmore’s Beekeepers Club.
In addition, when he’s not involved in any number of personal and public crusades,likemaking suretheschooldoesn’t drop Latin from the curriculum to make room for Japanese, Max is leading The Max Fischer Players. Rushmore’s resident drama group, the theater company specializes in putting on the sociallyconscious plays its muckraking namesake writes. Subtlety, either through his stage productions or in his relationships, is not among Max’s fortes.
The only thing Mr. Extracurricular doesn’t seem to be concerned with is his grades. As a result, when first we make the diminutive dynamo’s acquaintance, he has just been put on sudden death probation. Setting about to avoid this latest threat to his cherished lifestyle — he contemplates every angle but studying — Max is simultaneously approaching a watershed, a coming-of-age.
Aside from being smitten by the sweet young widow now teaching at the posh private school, he attends and is moved by a speech given by steel mogul Herman Blume (Bill Murray), a self-made millionaire the school is wooing to become a benefactor.
Max compliments the lonely magnate on his talk and a mutual admiration society instantly develops between the two.
The young man sees in Herman a selfactualized captain of industry, someone who made it despite his meager roots. You see, Max is a Great Gatsby of the teen set; he tells everyone his father is a neurosurgeon. The truth is, Dad (endearingly portrayed by Seymour Cassel) is a barber.
And Max is on scholarship thanks to the persuasive efforts of an adoring Mom who died when he was seven. Revolted to no end by his twin moronic boys in attendance at Rushmore, Blume sees in spunky Max the enchanting possibilities of youth, and the kind of son he wishes he had.
Things might have been just fine from this point on, if only Max hadn’t asked his newfound friend for a favor — to serve as a go-between. You guessed it. Herman is struck with one of Cupid’s arrows whilst delivering a missive to Rosemary Cross, and a new twist on the old love triangle is shaped.
Once Max is hip to the skinny, an oddlyengaging cloudformsoverdirector Wes Anderson’s bizarrely imaginative lens, announcing that the already quirky comedy will now assume a humorously dark personality.
Feeling betrayed, Max swears revenge against this latter day Benedict Arnold. He attacks with full force.
Now, one would think that Mr. Blume, played with deadpan excellence by Bill Murray, might be too ashamed to respond in kind. Wrong. The tycoon retaliates with insane verve, answering Max’s obvious declaration of war. But that improbability is what makes this highly sensitive and equally unpredictable film so thoroughly enjoyable. Max almost always acts on his passions. Even his detractors admire him for it.
Though Rushmore merrily surfs along the edge of black comedy, there is a consistent, open-arms conviviality to its idiosyncratic doings.Themoretenebrous notions are cynical, but never beyond reprieve. And in that sense, it reminds of the quaintly hopeful Harold and Maude.
Indeed, filmmaker Anderson pays homage to that 1972 cult classic, which features a soundtrack by Cat Stevens, capturing here the appropriate mood by also using one of Mr. Stevens’s songs. In
fact, the director displays a highly satisfying knack for matching most of his scenes with just the right pop tune.
After all, where else will you find John Lennon’s “Oh Yoko!” seamlessly integrated into the mirthful mix without missing a beat, let alone raising an eyebrow?
As crazy and volatile as things might get, director Anderson ultimately proffers the Pollyanna notion that everyone has some good in them. And some, like Max Fischer, even have a little great in them. Rushmore is a monument to that happy thought.
* * * * * Rushmore, rated R, is a Touchstone Pictures release directed by Wes Anderson and stars Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, and Olivia Williams. Running time: 91 minutes.
TheDutchand Englisharecloseneighbors and have been peaceful trading partners for centuries.
As a result of their commercial relationship and proximity, it is estimated that at least 2,500 English words have been borrowed from the Dutch. One such word is “aloof,” which certainly does not describe thegeneralrelationshipbetween the citizens of these two countries.
“Aloof” is a seaman’s term that comes from the Dutch word “loef,” or “luff,” and literally means “to turn the ship into the wind and away from the shore and your fellow man.”
Today, “aloof” is used in the sense of “being reserved or cool of manner toward someone.”
There is an ocean of other fascinating nautical terms that have become English metaphors. We shall review some of them in future columns, but now we must “lower the boom on this essay.”
FROM THE DESK OF GERI SAMUEL FROM THE DESK OF GERI SAMUEL FROM THE DESK OF GERI SAMUEL FROM THE DESK OF GERI SAMUEL FROM THE DESK OF GERI SAMUEL
‘Reap and Ready’ — Mayor Geri Samuel Questions Its Purpose and Benefits
– MAYOR OF SCOTCH PLAINS –
I reviewed the transcript of the Governor’s State of the State and listened to her budget message.
It was interesting to note that there was a surplus and that some of that money would go into a fund which the Governor called Reap and Ready. I believe the amount going into that Fund is $35 million.
The purpose of that fund is to encourage municipalities to explore shared services or possible consolidation. You can get money just for setting up a committee exploring the possibility of sharing services.
The Governor believes that by holding this carrot in front of municipalities they will scramble to share services or consolidated departments, and she will force the number of municipalities, fire districts or school districts to diminish.
For the past 50 years, Scotch Plains and Fanwood have had a regional school district.We haveinter-localserviceagreements with Fanwood, Rahway, and the County of Union. How do we benefit from this money? We don’t.
We now have to go out and look for new inter-local service agreements or
find ways to consolidate some other branches of our government in order to be the beneficiaries of this money.
Why should Scotch Plains, Fanwood, West Orange and other municipalities be penalized for doing something that the Governor just discovered in 1998.
I believe that as residents of Scotch Plains and Fanwood, we should be writing to our legislators demanding that we receive some benefit from these funds or that the Governor rethink her plan.
We had the vision and foresight to plan in an effective and responsible manner, therefore, we should be the beneficiaries of the prize for having that vision and foresight.
I encourage you to contact Senator Donald T. DiFrancesco, Assemblymen Richard H. Bagger and Alan Augustine and any other legislators you have a relationship with. Find out what they are doing for communities like Scotch Plains and Fanwood.
This money directly impacts income taxes. You could be saving yourselves money.
NEWS FROM TRENTON
22nd Legislative District
Bill Exempts Education Savings From State’s Income Tax
By Assemblyman Richard H. Bagger
TRENTON -Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Richard H. Bagger of Westfield that would exempt education savings accounts from New Jersey state income taxes was approved January 28 by the state Assembly.
The measure now heads to Governor Christine Todd Whitman for her consideration.
Assembly No. 2367 would exempt earnings in a qualified state tuition program or education individual retirement account (IRA) from New Jersey gross income tax provided the proceeds are used to pay the costs of higher education.
“In New Jersey, we created a program last year called NJ BEST (The New Jersey Better Education Savings Trust) in which funds can earn interest for qualified education expenses without being subject to the state income tax,” said Assemblyman Bagger, Chairman of the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
“In other words, families and students can invest money tax-free to help pay for college education,” he explained.
“This year, we want to take that good idea and extend it to other college sav
ings plans that are similar to NJ BEST, but are not currently tax-exempt in New Jersey,” he added. “There are federal education IRAs, and individual qualified state tuition program accounts which allow families and students to put money away for future college costs with no federal income tax liability. It is an unfair burden on New Jersey families to impose state income taxes on these savings accounts.”
While NJ BEST proceeds are exempt from state taxation, Mr. Bagger’s bill would extend the exemption to qualified tuition plans in other states and federal education IRAs.
“Hopefully, this will also encourage more families to start saving for college when their children are young,” he said. “By providing this added tax incentive, we can encourage more people to make room in their family budgets for future college savings. Ultimately, our goal is to make sure that any New Jersey high school student who is qualified can afford to go to college.”
Councilman Carl Salisbury Opposes Development of Field at Brightwood
The suggestion by Glenn Burrell, our Recreation Director, that the socalled panhandle at Brightwood Park should be developed with athletic fields, has inspired some lively debate in town. At least it has done so in the part of town near Brightwood, where I live.
I oppose the development of ball fields at Brightwood Park and will try to persuade my colleagues on the Town Council that it is a bad idea, if it ever comes up for a vote.
My opposition is not a NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) response. I would oppose its development if it were located anywhere else in town.
There are three good reasons why it wouldbe tragictodevelopBrightwood. First, it was donated to the town as a permanent natural refuge by Noel A. Taylor.
As a Scotch Plains resident and frequent user of the park recently pointed out to me, the plaque attached to a boulder at the entrance to the park says that it was established as “a sanctuary so that the children of Westfield will forever have this natural land to cherish.” The intentions of the benefactor deserve our respect.
Second, the development of playing fields at Brightwood cannot serve its stated purpose, which is to increase the inventory of town ball fields during the upcoming renovationsofMemorialand Sycamore Parks.
By the time wetlands studies are completed, requests for proposals are sent out and received back, bids are solicited, contractors are hired, funding is put in place (I have not even mentioned the number of tax points the development will cost), the panhandle is bulldozed and excavated, trees are cleared, access roads and parking lots are built, and construction of the fields themselves are completed, the fields at Memorial and Sycamore will have been back in use for a season or two.
Third, for those who use and enjoy it daily, Brightwood is the sanctuary that Noel Taylor intended. It is not a remote and dangerous hangout for beer-drinking teenagers.
As another neighbor and daily user of Brightwood recently told me in a letter, the park is a “spectacular facility, with a fair abundance of wildlife,” including wood ducks, geese that “come and go in echelon,” a great blue heron, deer, and even an occasional red fox.
In fact, the panhandle of the park is the habitat for most of this wildlife. Recreation in Westfield certainly involves soccer and Little League and softball. But it involves so much more than that, as well. There is a place in the lifeofWestfield recreationforthemany people who cherish the solitude and harmony of quiet interaction with nature.
There is only one place in Westfield where that kind of recreation can hap
pen and it is Brightwood Park. AnselAdams, thenaturalistandphotographer,warnedus tobewareofthose who “know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” Let us not allow such a criticism to be leveled at us because we took a natural treasure and turned it into a sports complex.
Carl A. Salisbury Councilman
First Ward Westfield
Adele Kenny Noted For Establishing Carriage House Poetry Reading Series Editor’s Note: This letter was read to the Mayor and Borough Council at their February 11 meeting. The next meeting in the series will be on Thursday, March 11.
* * * * * I would like to commend Adele Kenny for the time and effort she is devoting to organizing the Carriage House Poetry Reading Series in Fanwood.
Ms. Kenny is a longtime resident of Fanwood. She is taking time away from her own writing and personal endeavors to bring eight highly respected poets to Fanwood from throughout New Jersey, including National Book Award winner Gerald Stern.
In the process, she is helping to put Fanwood on the map as a creative community open to diverse ideas.
The inaugural reading in the series attracted an appreciative audience which was made up of Fanwood residents plus people from Westfield, Plainfield, Piscataway and other neighboring towns and counties.
I was impressed by the fact that they attended the reading because Fanwood had something unusual to offer. I’d like
to think that was what prompted former Mayor Patricia Kuran’s efforts to save the Carriage House from demolition. It is therefore fitting that the Carriage House was recently renamed the Patricia M. Kuran Cultural Arts Center.
Adele Kenny has enlisted the help of a variety of people and organizations to make this poetry series a reality. They include Mayor Maryanne S. Connelly, Freeholder Linda d. Stender, State Senator Donald T. DiFrancesco, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Union County Division of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, and the Borough of Fanwood.
I would like to thank Adele Kenny and all those who played a role in bringing the poetry series to Fanwood. It is a refreshing effort and one deserving of continued support.
Tom Plante Fanwood
Brightwood Park Must Be Preserved; Holds Valuable Treasures, Tradition
Yesterday as I stopped by the Prospector Store on Prospect Street I was horrified to see fliers describing the ominous “improvement” and impending “development” of Brightwood Park.
It seems the Westfield Recreation Commission Director, Glenn Burrell, feels that the park is “underutilized” and needstheaddition ofsoccerfields,hockey fields, ball fields, tennis courts and playgrounds.
This is not, repeat not, what Noel Taylor had in mind when he fought to preserve this tract of land as a natural refuge.
Did you know you can see deer and turtles and foxes there? Yesterday I saw a red tailed hawk. All of these wonders would disappear as the park becomes “improved” and “civilized.”
I wonder who decides which is more valuable, soccer or nature watching? birdwatching? fishing?paintingandphotography? dog walking? Where else in this town can you walk along the lake
and it’s canopy of trees and muse and dream and meditate?
And have you ever seen the lake by moonlight? Don’t you think the children and teenagers of this town need these things too? After all, Noel Taylor created this park in part for his high school students to have a beautiful and natural spot to hang out in.
We should all be able to just hang out atBrightwood (Taylor)Park!That’swhat this park is for.
I too would like to see this park used wisely. It has been ignored. It should be used for ice skating as well. They used to skate on this lake in the 50s — why not now?
I hope all Westfield citizens will appear at the Town Hall Meeting February 23 at 8:30 p.m. (this is a Tuesday night) and show our council people what we care about, and wish to protect forever.
Auroraterre Lee Westfield
Houligan’s Island A Hit With Local Resident
When I moved to Westfield in 1991, I was surprised at the number of people who kept saying “Ooh – Westfield!” when I told them where I had moved.
Now I know why they said that. This past weekend I had the distinct pleasure of being involved in my first Washington School Parent Teacher Organization school play, Houligan’s Island.
From the writing to the music to the acting to the staging and the spectacular dancing, I was astonished and delighted to see my neighbors and newly made friends perform to such a high level.
I have never been so proud of my town or of the true sense of community that this annual event promotes. To everyone associated with Houligan’s Island, thank you. I can’t wait until next year.
Michael Snizek Westfield
More Letters On Page 5
Electric Industry Deregulation To Produce Sustained Savings
By Senator Donald T. DiFrancesco
All around the country a slow and steady change in the way electricity is produced and marketed to consumers is quietly taking place.
With the Legislature’s recent passage of landmark energy deregulation legislation, New Jersey’s century-old monopolistic electric industry will soon be transformed into a competitive marketplace.
Many consumers might ask, why change? The reason is simple: New Jersey has among the highest electric rates in the country, 50 percent higher than the national average. This not only impacts the pocketbooks of residential consumers, but also the bottom lines of businesses who have come under significant pressure to leave the Garden State in search of cheaper energy costs in other states.
TheLegislatureknew wehadtochange the system, and we determined that any effort to deregulate the state’s electric
and natural gas markets had to benefit New Jersey citizens through mandatory and sustained rate reductions.
The deregulation bill calls for an immediate electric rate reduction of 5 percent beginning on August 1, 1999, which will increase to 10 percent over a three year period. (This does not include the additional 6 percent reduction off electric bills over five years made possible through Energy Tax Reform Legislation passed in 1997.)
This would result in an average monthly savings of $10 to $20, or the equivalent of receiving a month’s worth of electricity free each year.
The best news for customers is that they won’t have to switch electric companies to receive a discount. We made a concerted effort to make the switch to a competitive electric market as simple as possible for consumers. If a customer
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