OUR 108th YEAR – ISSUE NO. 07-99 FIFTY CENTS 232-4407
The Westfield Leader — Serving the Town Since 1890 —
Thursday, February 18, 1999 USPS 680020 Periodical – Postage Paid at Westfield, N.J.
Published Every Thursday
CYAN YELLOW MAGENTA BLACK
Tentative 1999-2000 Budget Explored By School Board By MICHELLE H. LePOIDEVIN
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
On Tuesday, February 16, the Westfield Board of Education closely examined the components of a drafted budget for the upcoming academic year, which carries an approximate price tag of $53 million.
Board Member and Chair of the Finance Committee, Susan L. Jacobson, explained the construction of the preliminary budget, which has been in progress since the summer months.
According to Mrs. Jacobson, the committee met with Director of Spe
cial Education Services, Theodore Kozlik, to determine the needs of special education students and to include those increased costs in the budget.
The committee also included the needs of curriculum changes and technological improvements in the district when crafting the budget.
Mrs. Jacobson described budget discussions as “indepth, profitable and informative,” adding that a special budget seminar will be presented on TV-36 for public consideration.
The program will be aired until the school board election on Tuesday, April 20.
She called the budget “very reasonable” and stated, “I hope the taxpayers will feel it is very reasonable.”
Superintendent of Schools, Dr. William J. Foley, reported that the elements of the budget included the requirements of the board’s Strategic Plan. He added that another important consideration when developing the budget was to “keep funding consistent with previous years,” while
William A. Burke for The Westfield Leader
ROLE MODELS…Franklin Elementary School in Westfield recently hosted its first Franklin Leadership Summit, for which the students wrote essays defining the role of leadership. Assemblyman Richard H. Bagger, Union County Freeholder Mary P. Ruotolo, and Mayor Thomas C. Jardim attended the summit to explain their government roles and to encourage leadership. Pictured, left to right, are: Sonya Burkett, a representative for Assemblyman Bagger, with his photograph; Freeholder Ruotolo and Mayor Jardim.
WELCOME BACK…Faith Divisek, who returned to Westfield as Interim Principal at Tamaques Elementary School, was welcomed by Tamaques Student Council President Samantha Mooney and Sal DeSimone, former Principal of Tamaques. Dr. Divisek said: “It’s great to be back in Westfield. I’ve been hearing so many wonderful things about students at Tamaques. It’s an easy place to be.” Dr. Divisek retired as Principal of Franklin Elementary School in Westfield in 1993, after serving as its Principal for 10 years. In 1994, she received a Doctor of Education Degree in Education Administration from Teachers College, Columbia University. Prior to her interim position in Westfield at Tamaques School, she taught graduate courses in school administration, early childhood, learning environments and classroom management. She also supervised student teachers at Columbia National University, Columbia, South Carolina.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 12
Franklin Elementary Students Inspired By Government Leaders
By MICHELLE H. LePOIDEVIN
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
On February 12, brilliant stars and stripes were the backdrop for the Franklin Leadership Summit at the Franklin Elementary School auditorium, as Union County Freeholder Mary Ruotolo, Mayor Thomas C. Jardim, and Sonya Burkett, a representative for Assemblyman Richard H. Bagger, met with fourth and fifth grade students to encourage leadership skills.
The notion of a leadership summit at Franklin was conceived last year by the school’s Assistant Principal, Pat Rooney. Mr. Rooney believed that students would benefit from focusing on a positive definition of leadership.
The fourth and fifth grade students were given the assignment to write essays about the leadership qualities they believed were important. The students worked with faculty and sent letters to the leaders, who were motivated to attend the summit.
Mr. Dolan told the students, “You provided the ideas for the program. I thank you for your involvement.”
Some of these definitions were placed on colorful cardboard strips and displayed in the Franklin School auditorium for the assembly.
Scrawled in marker and crayon, students described a leader as “a person who leads people to do things,” “someone in charge,” “a person people look up to for advice,” “someone who makes important decisions,” “someone you
want to follow,” “a person who can make good choices,” and “someone who takes care of things patiently.”
Franklin Principal, Dr. Margaret Dolan, led the students, who were dressed in their Sunday Best to impress their leaders, with a patriotic
flag salute and a spirited rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Each of the leaders was proudly introduced by Jeffrey Perillo, Franklin Elementary Fifth Grade Student Council President.
Tamaques Elementary Welcomes Interim Principal, Faith Divisek By MICHELLE H. LePOIDEVIN
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
One door closed and another one opened as Tamaques Elementary School recently bid farewell to former principal, Sal DeSimone, and welcomed interim principal, Faith Divisek.
Mr. DeSimone had served the Westfield Public School district for approximately 26 years, before deciding to step down and accept a position as the new principal at Fairview School in Bloomfield.
Beginning his career as a Spanish and English teacher at Roosevelt Intermediate School in 1973, Mr. DeSimone acquired the position of Foreign Language Department Chairman three years later.
Mr. DeSimone continued his career as the assistant principals of Franklin Elementary and Roosevelt Intermediate schools.
During a recent meeting of the Westfield Board of Education, Mr. DeSimone reflected upon his fiveyear term as Tamaques Elementary School Principal. He stated that his experience with the Westfield school system was rewarding and valuable.
That evening, board members gave Mr. DeSimone a rousing round of applause in appreciation for his hard work and accomplishments with the students and the school system.
Mr. DeSimone told The Westfield Leader, “I leave Westfield with a great deal of pride and affection. The Westfield community has given me a great deal. I appreciate all of the friends I have made and all of the students I have influenced.”
Regarding his new position at Fairview School, he revealed, “Fairview School offers me new chal
lenges. Bloomfield is the town in which I was raised. I look forward to influencing positively a new school and a new community.”
Dr. Divisek, who retired as Principal of Franklin Elementary School in 1993 after a 10-year term, said that
she is pleased to return to the Westfield school system.
Dr. Divisek received a Doctor of Education Degree in Education Administration from Teachers College at Columbia University, New York City.
Source: County of Union
STABILIZING TAXES...As indicated in the chart above, the Union County tax levy is continuing its spiraling downturn trend. The proposed 1999 county budget represents the fourth year in row that the amount to be raised by taxes will not increase. Please that a 4.4 decline was evident in 1991 when the state assumed costs related to Welfare and institutional programs.
By PAUL J. PEYTON
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
Union County government will continue to decrease its reliance on property taxes this year as a percentage of total revenue used to partially offset a proposed budget of $285.6 million.
This year’s budget, which increases overall spending by about $3.5 million over the 1998 adopted budget, will be offset in part by a county tax levy of $150.24 million, the same as last year and the lowest level since 1994.
Revenue from property taxes represents 52.6 percent of funding in the budget, 9.1 percent generated from the use of surplus funds, 7 percent from reimbursement of money for state institutions, 11.2 percent for grants, and another 20.1 percent in various county generated revenues such as funds to house state and federal prisoners, fees charged for passports and other services of the County Clerk’s office and county park fees.
County officials have noted that property taxes have dropped from
58.4 percent of the budget in 1993 to 52.6 percent this year.
Union County Manager Michael J. Lapolla noted that the county property tax is at its lowest rate, .45652, since 1993. The rate represents a 1.27 percent decline from last year.
The county’s surplus has risen from $17.6 million in 1994 to $41 million this year, the largest in the county’s history.
“Each fiscal year the administration attempts to utilize larger amounts of the fund balance each year to offset new demands placed on budget resources,” Mr. Lapolla said in explaining the importance of a rising surplus funds.
He explained that the surplus funds, referred to in budget terms as the fund balance, helps Union County stabilize the county portion of property tax bills. Mr. Lapolla also noted that a rising surplus has enabled the county to maintain a “AAA” bond rating by both Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Investors Service.
Mr. Lapolla noted in his Executive Budget, presented to the Freeholders
on January 14, that the county’s reliance on property taxes has decreased by 22.3 percent since 1990. In fact, the levy was flat in 1996, down .5 percent in 1997 and 1 percent in 1998.
“Since 1997, economic development, the key to continued growth and prosperity, has been the paramount focus of every county department and division,” the county manager emphasized.
The Department of Economic Development was created by the Democratically controlled Freeholder board in 1997. The department is under the direction of George V. Devanney, who also serves as Deputy County Manager.
“We will strive to create new jobs, expand and foster relationships in the global marketplace, and implement innovations in transportation and our infrastructure,” Mr. Lapolla noted.
Noting Union County’s geographic location between New York
CONTINUED ON PAGE 12 CONTINUED ON PAGE 12 CONTINUED ON PAGE 12
Proposed $285.6 Mil. County Budget Calls For No Increase in Tax Levy
By KIM KINTER
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
At only 28, Jennifer Anne Ryan made the kind of lasting impression on a community that seems more likely of a person twice her age.
As a Westfield resident for 23 years and active in both the community and The Presbyterian Church in Westfield, Miss Ryan’s unexpected death Tuesday caused despair and grief among the many who knew her well.
“She was very energetic, very friendly. She had a wonderful disposition. I just loved working with her,” said Michael La Place, Executive Director of the Downtown Westfield
Corporation (DWC), who had worked with her since 1997. Miss Ryan had been active with Westfield MainStreet, and later the DWC, for six years.
“I’m in shock. I’m stunned that she’s gone,” he added.
Similarly, Tina McCormick, Associate Pastor at The Presbyterian Church in Westfield, where Miss Ryan was active with the church’s youth group, mourned the loss of the
young woman she described as “extremely dedicated.”
“She was one of those people who had a tremendous impact on individuals. It is a tragedy,” she observed.
At press time, the cause of Miss Ryan’s death had not been determined. She had become ill over the weekend and died in Overlook Hospital in Summit.
Miss Ryan was a 1988 graduate of
4.8% 3.5% 3% 0% 4.8%
0% -1% -0.5%
’88 ’89 ’90 ’91 ’92 ’93 ’94 ’95 ’96 ’97 ’98 ’99
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT WAS ACTIVE WITH WESTFIELD YOUTH
Westfield Grieves Following Sudden Death of Jennifer Ryan at Age 28
Council Debates Best Use of County Funds Under Renewed ‘Pocket Park’ Program By PAUL J. PEYTON
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
The Westfield Town Council once again is wrestling with how to best use grant moneys from Union County to upgrade the town’s parks and rec
reational facilities. Now into the second year of the Board of Chosen Freeholders’ “Pocket Park” matching grant program, Town Administrator Edward A. Gottko proposed that the town
apply for $100,000 in county funds this year, per requests from Department of Recreation officials.
The governing body agreed to seek $80,000 from the county to fund an upgrade of the restrooms and storage
facility located near the Tamaques Park tennis courts. The remaining $20,000 will go toward improvements to other parks.
These include a park to be created at Rahway Avenue and First Street in honor of activist and entertainer Paul Robeson, who lived in the town in the early part of the 20th century, and the refurbishing of Clark Memorial Park. Officials are also seeking to create a pocket park on Central Avenue near
CONTINUED ON PAGE 12 CONTINUED ON PAGE 12
Courtesy of The United Fund of Westfield
A FAVORITE AMONG YOUTH...Jennifer Ryan, center, is shown here in a 1994 photo with members of the Westfield Youth Bicentennial Committee. Pictured, left to right, are: Jeannette Yudes, Meghan Bender, Miss Ryan, Courtney Bender and Brooke Wiley. Miss Ryan died suddenly Tuesday morning at age 28.
Page 12 Thursday, February 18, 1999 The Westfield Leader and THE TIMES of Scotch Plains – Fanwood A WATCHUNG COMMUNICATIONS, INC. PUBLICATION
CYAN YELLOW MAGENTA BLACK
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
Preliminary County Budget Shows No Increase in Tax Levy
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
Franklin Students Inspired By Government Leaders
Freeholder Ruotolo told the students thatFranklin Elementaryhasalwaysbeen a special school to her. The freeholder, who represents the 21 towns in Union County, stated, “You could each be a leader of the future.”
Mrs. Ruotolo explained some of the responsibilities that accompany the title of “freeholder.” She said she is accountableformanaging thecountybudget,and helpingtomaintain theroadsandbridges in the county.
Thefreeholder,whois alsoaliaisonto the Union County Board of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, detailed Access 2000, Project Pocket Parks, and a new funding ofcollege educationforcountyresidents if they maintain a B average and attend Union County College.
While explaining these projects, she stressed the importance of the county providing computertechnologyandsoftware, as well as new and improved parks for these leaders of tomorrow.
Mrs. Burkett, a representative for Assemblyman Bagger, spoke in his place because he was called away late Thursday afternoon for business in New York City.
Mrs. Burkett told the students that the assemblyman was a “proud product” of the Westfield school system, who graduated at the top of his class.
“He showed strong signs of becoming a leader early on,” she stated.
While running for Student Council at Roosevelt Intermediate School, Mrs. Burkett said that the assemblyman made light of his last name and wrote, “Vote For Bagger” on brown paper bags to encouragevotes.
“He always knew he wanted to stay in Westfield and was interested in the history and government of New Jersey,” Mrs. Burkett added.
She explainedthatAssemblymanBagger, who has passed 75 pieces of legislation, had been involved in Westfield government as a member of the town’s Planning Board and later as councilman and mayor before attaining the position of assemblyman.
Mrs. Burkett conveyed a strong message, which reflected the sentiments of Assemblyman Bagger, “Don’t let a disappointment in your life stop you from becoming a leader. Carry on with energy and enthusiasm and being involved.”
Mayor Jardim, the final leader to address the students, explained that the Student Council and its class representatives were examples of fine leaders.
“Part of their job is so that you know they represent you. Go to them with problems, issues and ideas so they can bring them into fruition in the best way possible,” he stressed.
The mayor pointed to Ghandi, Mother Theresa and Martin Luther King Jr. as important leaders of our time.
“You can also learn to be a leader,” he said. “You have to believe in your ideas. In order to be a good leader, you have to convince people to follow you.”
MayorJardim listedtheimportanceof being an “effective speaker, a good goalsetter,” an individual who is “honest, kind, confident, persistent, truthful, and willing to reach a compromise,” as important leadership skills.
“If you want to be a good leader, people have to know who you are. Also, you have to have a knowledge of current events,” he stated while noting the importance of reading the newspaper daily.
The Mayor added, “You don’t have to be an elected person in order to be a leader.”
He stated that the students could be special leaders by not giving into harmful behavior such as drugs and alcohol use.
“Don’t do dumb things like drugs, or staying out too late or jaywalking, for that matter,” the Mayor stated.
As the Summit came to a close, Principal Dolan encouraged the students: “You can use whatever skills you have and whatever your personality is to be a good leader.”
She concluded, “Not only as an adult, you can start it right now.”
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
Tentative 1999-2000 Budget Explored By School Board
considering the climbing enrollment. The committee reported that the total enrollment in 1997-1998 was 4,878 students, while enrollment rose to 5,053 students for the 1998-1999 school year.
Components, such as the computer initiative for four sections of fifth grade students, will incur a total expense of $28,715. Twenty desks, four carts, four monitors, in-service training, and the lease of 20 computers and four printers are the elements of this computer initiative.
Another element of the budget, the computer initiative for 22 sections of fourth grade students will involve a total cost of $139,117. Approximately 110 desks, 22 display carts, 22 monitors, inservice training, and the lease of 110 computers and 22 printers are the components of this initiative.
The new language arts curriculum, whichwasrecently approvedbytheboard for students at Edison Intermediate and Roosevelt Intermediate schools, has also impacted the upcoming budget. New costs, with a tally of $96,261, will include 56 desks, 12 display carts, 12 monitors, in-service training, and the lease of 68 computers and 14 printers.
New textbooks for the World Language curriculum, which include Spanish instruction for second and sixth grade students and French instruction for sixth and eighth grade students, tallied $31,668.
Improved health textbooks for the elementary grades and the intermediate schools have added $37,474 to the budget, while social studies textbooks for the intermediate school students totaled $8,000. Other new textbooks for the fine arts/music and language arts/novels curricula have totaled $29,315.
This drafted budget has also reflected a need for an increase in personnel. More World Language teachers, health and industrial arts teachers, resource room teachers, aides and computer technicians will mean a cost of $499,600.
Business Administrator, Robert Berman, outlined the capital projects involved in the preliminary budget.
Jefferson Elementary requires “fascia and soffit” roof repair and completion. Washington Elementary needs a new bell and intercom system. Edison Intermediate School must have partial roof repair, while Roosevelt Intermediate requires an upgrade in heat controls. Westfield High School needs floor tile replacement and a new air conditioner in the nurse’s suite. Lincoln School must have its gym roof repaired and its fire alarm upgraded.
The total price tag for these capital projects is $536,000. Mr. Berman noted that this cost is a drastic reduction due to the $11.7 million bond, which was approved in December to improve schools district-wide.
The school board recently received a $617,779 increase in state aid. While expressing his gratitude for this increase, Dr. Foley observed, “We would like to
see more in the future.” The major revenue components of the budget are 88 percent, or $47 million tax levy, 7 percent, or $3.6 million state aid, 3 percent, or $1.6 million free balance, and 2 percent, or $1 million miscellaneous.
Mr. Berman noted that these components would be two-fold. The interest rate would drop, however, the funds and the bond would earn less than 5 percent.
Sixty-six percent of the drafted budget’s major expenditure components are derived from instruction, while 34 percent come from administration and maintenance costs.
The preliminary budget, as it stands, would have a tax impact of $122.69 on the average home assessed at $174,000. This means that the tax rate would increase by 2.63.
On Tuesday, March 2, the board will vote on the adoption of the tentative budget. The general public will have the opportunity to express their views and ask questions about the budget on Tuesday, March 23.
“Our budget is very reasonable,” stressedMrs. Jacobson.“Thesearethings we need to keep going forward.”
Board President, Darielle Walsh, added that a special emphasis report, detailing the drafted budget, will be mailed to Westfield residents before the election in April. She stated that each school’s ParentTeacherOrganizationwill meet during March and April to hold open public meetings to discuss the budget.
Dr.Foleyreported thattheboardwould be willing to arrange private meetings with concerned and interested groups to outline the budget’s components, just as the board had done when the bond was up for vote before December.
In a separate matter, Shelly DeJohn of Westfield approached the board to express her concern about the use of the Lincoln School playground.
Representing 40 families from the neighborhood aroundLincolnSchool,the mother of three noted her gratitude for new playground equipment, but stated that she didn’t feel the Lincoln School students were using the playground as much as they originally needed.
She said that because of this, neighborhood residents have been limited to use 75 feet of the 219 foot playground. However, she noted that she was pleased when she spoke with Superintendent of Union County Educational Services, Ed Hartnett, who agreed to a possible addition of 10 feet to the available space.
Mrs. DeJohn said she was “bothered by the lack of a proactive stance by the board.”
Dr. Foley told Mrs. DeJohn, “The boardcannot unilaterallychangethelease (of three years)” of the Lincoln School building with Union County Educational Services.
“They want that property for their use and that’s their position,” observed Dr. Foley.
Candidates File Petitions For Local BOE Seats
ThreecandidatesfromWestfield and one from Mountainside had filedpetitions forthisyear’sschool board elections as of yesterday morning, district officials in both communities confirmed.
In Westfield, incumbents Annmarie Puleio and Arlene Gardner will both seek reelection to their local board, while newcomer William Wallace has also announced his candidacy.
Susan Jacobson, a 12-year member and former President of the board, recently announced that she will not seek a fifth term.
Mr. Wallace has served on the Citizens Advisory Committee on Capital Projects, which dealt with district-wide improvements proposed under the $11.7 million school bond that was passed by voters on December 15.
Ms. Puleio and Ms. Gardner are each wrapping up their inaugural
terms on the school board. In Mountainside, there are two open seats on the board this year. Only Patricia Knodel, who has served on the board for 24 years, had filed a petition as this newspaper went to press. The other seat is held by John Perrin, who has been a member of the board since September.
Full school board terms are for three years each. Prospective candidates must file their petitions, which may be obtained from the board secretary’s office in their district, by 4 p.m. on Monday, March 1. Petitions must contain the signatures of 10 eligible voters in the candidate’s district.
School board elections will take place this year on Tuesday, April 20.
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
Westfield High School. She earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Rhode Island in 1992, but returned to Westfield shortly afterward.
Back in her hometown, she quickly became involved in the Westfield volunteer efforts to improve the downtown area and to celebrate the town’s Bicentennial. She also started her own business in town, Jennifer Ryan Landscape Design.
Linda Maggio, Director of the United Fund and Chairwoman of the 1994 Bicentennial event, said Miss Ryan, along with four Westfield High School girls, voluntarily planned and created the triangular Bicentennial Youth Square Garden at the corner of Mountain Avenue and Orchard and Lawrence Streets. A plaque there dedicated to the youth of WestfieldlistsMiss Ryanashandlingthe landscape design.
Throughthe project,Mrs.Maggiosaid, she developed “a close, warm relationship, such respect” for Miss Ryan. “She was such a talented, beautiful youth. I’m just overwhelmed with grief.”
Mr. La Place said that Miss Ryan first became involved in the effort to revitalize the downtown during 1993-1994, when she joined the former Westfield MainStreet group, a coalition of volunteers dedicated to improving the downtown.
She eagerly volunteered her time and effort to help the organization achieve its goals, and quickly earned the respect of those with whom she worked, according to people who knew her.
More recently, Mr. La Place had hired her and worked with her to develop a downtown plan of landscaping. “A lot of the field work was done. We were in the final presentation and drawing stages,” he remarked.
“She loved the work. She grew up here, which was so helpful,” he continued.“Shealways hadgreatinsightsabout what would be right here. She was very creative. It breaks my heart that she won’t get to see her results. It is a real loss to the whole community.”
At The Presbyterian Church in Westfield, Miss Ryan was known by the parish staff and its youth members. She was an adult adviser for the high school youth on Sunday evenings, and a small group leader for confirmation classes during the week.
AlthoughMissRyan hadbeenachurch member for years, it was not until two yearsagothatshe becameactivewiththe youthprogram.
“Two years ago, we needed to fill a space in a mission trip and someone mentioned Jennifer,” Reverend McCormick said.
“I remember calling her and saying ‘You don’t know me, but would you be interestedin goingtoAlabama?”,Reverend McCormick recalled. She said that Miss Ryan said “yes” unhesitatingly.
“She then became committed whole
Westfield Grieves Following Death of Jennifer Ryan
heartedly to the youth,” Reverend McCormick remarked. “The kids (in the church) are devastated.”
Miss Ryan, in fact, accompanied a youth group on a recent weekend trip to Killington, Vermont.
Staffmembers metwithgrievingyouth andparentsonTuesday nightatthechurch to counsel them and discuss their concerns. ReverendMcCormicksaidchurch youth spent about an hour writing notes toMissRyan,and arepreparingajournal to give to her family.
Reverend McCormick also contacted the high school principal early Tuesday morning to inform him of Miss Ryan’s death and to offer help in telling the students there.
Reverend McCormick was then invited tothehighschool totalktostudents who knew Miss Ryan.
About 100 Westfield High School students are active in The Presbyterian Church in Westfield’s youth group. Reverend McCormick noted that about 50 to 60 came to the auditorium, where she informed them of Miss Ryan’s death.
Cas Jakubik, district guidance director, said the school offered distraught students achancetoleave classesortogo home.
Miss Ryan also was a member of Westfield’sArchitecturalReviewBoard, to which she had been reappointed this year.
“She was definitely one of the backbones (of the Architectural Review Board),” said Westfield Mayor Thomas C. Jardim. “She was a very nice person, sort of full of life and very positive. It is very sad.”
and Philadelphia, the Executive Budget Summary notes that transportation will be a key component of the county’s efforts this year. This plan includes the TransportationDevelopmentDistrict,or TDD, along the U.S. 1 and 9 corridor in the Port Elizabeth and Linden Airport area, and county’s Cross County Rail Link.
The TDD was developed in 1996 to formaspecial financingdistrictandtransportation infrastructure plan targeting investment along the corridor. The rail link will provide a east-west mass transit connection from Plainfield to Elizabethport, with access to Newark International Airport.
In addition, improvements in nonmotorized related initiatives, such as bikeways, walkwaysandpathways,sidewalks, signage and streetscapes will be be funded in this year’s budget.
Just this month the county announced a $10 million, five-year plan to improve thecounty’s roadways,including18miles of roadway this year alone.
Programs begun last year under the chairmanship of Freeholder Daniel P. Sullivan and continued this year under Freeholder ChairmanNicholasP.Scutari are the Access 2000, “Pocket Park,” and HEARTS county grant programs.
Access 2000 enables school districts to apply for funds that can be used to
purchase computersand/orequipmentto provide computers and Internet Access in allclassroomsinthe countybytheyear 2000. This year the county will fund $3 million, with a total of $8.2 million disbursed over the three-year program.
A totalof$1million hasbeenplacedin the budget for the Pocket Park program this year, following the successful initiation of the program in 1998 that saw the Freeholders distribute $1.7 million in funds to all 21 municipalities in the county.
Another $100,000 is included in the budget for HEARTS, a program which standsfor History,Education,ArtsReaching Thousands. All theater groups and individualartistscan applyforthecounty grants. A total of $154,000 was awarded to artists in 1998.
Among the projects in the budget this year are the reconstruction of the back nine holes at the Ash Brook Golf Course in Scotch Plains and the addition of a classroom at the Trailside Nature and Science Center in Mountainside.
Also on tap are the restoration of Upper Echo Lake, the first of 11 county lakesthatwillbe dredgedbyF.X.Browne Inc. of Lansdale, Pennsylvania. Lake Surprise in the Watchung Reservation will be dredged over the summer with preliminary weed harvesting beginning sometime in the spring.
This year will mark the grand opening ofTheAndrew K.RuotoloJusticeBuilding, located across the street from the Union County Administration Building in Elizabeth. Mr. Ruotolo, a Westfield resident, was county Prosecutor before succumbing to cancer in 1995. His wife, Mary, is now a county Freeholder.
A county employee day care center will be located on the bottom floor of the building.
Construction will begin later this year for the new Union County Police Headquarters andProsecutor’sForensicLaboratory at the Venneri Complex on North Avenue in Westfield as will work on a new juvenile detention center in Elizabeth.
The proposed budget has been turned over to the Fiscal Affairs Committee, chairedthis yearbyFreeholderAlexander Mirabella, to hammer out a final spending plan.
Last year the committee, headed by Freeholder Linda d. Stender of Fanwood, slashed the budget, thus producing a decline in the overall tax levy for the second consecutive year. Taxes to be raised in 15 of the 21 towns in the county declined as a result of drop in the tax rate.
TROOP OPEN HOUSE…Members of Boy Scout Troop No. 79 worked on a service project under the direction of Dr. Martin Curlik this past summer at Sabattis Adventure Camp in the Adirondac Mountains of New York. Twentytwo scouts worked over 100 hours on the project. The troop, which is chartered by St. Helen’s Roman Catholic Church in Westfield, will hold an open house for Webelos Scouts on Monday, February 22, from 7:45 to 8:45 p.m., in the Parish Center. For more information, please call Jim McCloskey at (908) 654-3916 or Steve Tullo at (908) 233-1926.
WESTFIELD POLICE BLOTTER TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 9
· A window on a side door of a South Avenue business was discovered broken, according to police, who said there was no further damage and access to the establishment was not gained.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 10
· Danny Ruiz, 18, of Westfield was charged at police headquarters with burglary and theft in connection with an incident which occurred on January 22.
In that case, police said assorted items valued at approximately $1,300 were taken from a Forest Avenue apartment. They included a videocassette recorder, video camcorder, personal papers and a blanket. Ruiz was being held on $3,000 bail.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 13
· A Union resident reported the theft of his cellular telephone, valued at $80, which had been left on top of his vehicle
in the 500 block of Springfield Avenue.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 14
· A Sandra Circle resident reported the theft of a 1994 Jeep Cherokee which had been parked in front of her residence.
· A Clark resident told police that her brownleather pocketbookwastakenfrom her shopping cart as she was loading groceries into her car outside a local supermarket.
The pocketbook, minus the victim’s credit cards, was later recovered nearby, authorities said.
· Michael A. Calascione, 25, of Glen Ridge was arrested at Tamaques Way and charged with driving with a revoked license, according to police.
He was also taken into custody on warrants issued by the Municipal Courts of Millburn, Livingston, South Orange, and the Union County Sheriff’s Office, authorities confirmed.
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 3
during his nine-year tenure on the governing body.
Mr. Turner pointed out that these salaries would cost the borough a combined total of $12,000 per year, an amount he cited as minimal as far as its impact on Mountainside taxpayers.
Councilman Schon, who has served 17 years on the council, reported that he charted all of his expenses for four months and concluded that the expenses incurred exceeded the $100 per month that the unvouchered expenses allowed. He asked his fellow residents to “think before you criticize” and “to use empathy” in looking at the salary situation.
He stated that council members work very hard for the borough and that the “lowest effective tax rate in Union County, as is the case for Mountainside, does not happen by magic, but by the hard work done by your council.”
Council President Thomas Perotta, who said that he has been a volunteer fireman for 15 years and a councilman for the past threes, stated that this decision was thought out carefully, presented and passed before the local Ethics Board.
“The best interests of Mountainside are always in my mind,” he added.
Councilman Paul Mirabelli noted that, “it astonishes me that there is so much hoopla over a $12,000 item in our budget, when other expenses such as our recent $250,000 cost to join the Rahway Valley Sewage Authority goes without public comment.
“So many of the important issues that we deal with on behalf of the
Mountainside Council Salaries Cause Stir
borough go unnoticed and without public comment, which leads me to believe that we are doing a good job.”
He also stated that if the $1,500 per year salary brings in “good, qualified people to the council then it is money well spent.”
Council member Glenn Mortimer noted that when he decided to run for council a year ago, one of his concerns was how much money he would need to spend for his duties as a councilman. He stated that although members of the audience indicated that $1,000 to $1,500 was not a lot of money to them, it was to him.
The councilman said he could not see missing the chance to have qualified people serve the borough simply because the borough could not bear the financial burden of being a council member.
Councilman Schon stated that he did not feel that only wealthy citizens should serve on the council.
He added that he did not think that council members should necessarily be paid, but that potential members should “not be penalized due to (their annual) income.”
Resident Ted Zawislak said that he felt the new salary structure was “reasonable” and suggested that the salary ranges include a cap that cannot be revisited for three years. He also commented that “any change causes a stir” in a community.
The ordinance, which was first read before the public at council’s regular meeting in January, provoked no public comment at that time.
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
the Krauser’s convenience store. Prior to making its decision on the grant money, the council considered a proposal to apply for $75,000 in county funds to upgrade Tamaques Park restrooms, and $25,000 for new bathrooms at Gumbert Park.
The latter proposal, however, drew mixed reactions from council members, and was removed since it was funded in part in the 1998 municipal budget.
The use of funds for the Gumbert bathrooms was questioned by several council members, who said the Westfield Baseball League had promised to raise at least some of the funds for the project.
“I just have a hard time giving (the) baseball (league)moremoney,especially when they only want to include that one specific area (of the park),” said First Ward Councilman Gregory S. McDermott, referring to the $70,000 in county and town funds earmarked by the town for the bathrooms through the 1998 “Pocket Park” program.
The Recreation Commission’s 1999 capital improvement budget includes $160,000 for the Tamaques bathrooms, and $120,000 for Gumbert restrooms.
The Commission has also proposed $50,000 for improvements for the various projects as outlined above.
The Tamaques proposal will include $80,000 from the county, with an equal match from the town.
In addition to the Gumbert project, last year the council agreed to earmark $60,000 for improvements at Sycamore Field,$40,000 forTamaquesand$30,000 for “various parks and recreational facilities.” Another $34,000 was included to upgrade the playground behind the former Lincoln School on Westfield Avenue. All projects were to be split be
tween county and town funds. Last year, the county disbursed $1.7 million in funding for park improvements to all 21 municipalities in the county. This year, $1 million is proposed for the countyprogram.Each townmayapplyfor up to $100,000 in funds, which must be matched by the municipality.
Mr. Gottko noted that the first round of applications are due on March 1, with the second round due by May 1, provided there is money available for additional projects after the first go-around.
Mr. McDermott said the council could put all of this year’s “Pocket Park” funding into Tamaques Park to complete that project. At that point, Third Ward Councilman Neil F. Sullivan, Jr. proposed the plan that was agreed to by the council.
“I’m not sure the Tamaques project is worth the entire thing,” asserted Mayor Thomas C. Jardim.
In other business, Mr. Gottko noted that projected savings to town government, based on the deregulation of the electric industry in New Jersey, will be around $2,500 this year. He said the major part of the town’s $100,000 electricity costs are from street lights, which are not part of the savings.
Under the newly enacted law, all electricity customers in the state will receive a 5 percent mandatory cut in their bills effective Sunday, August 1. Another 5 percent cut will be spread over a threeyear period.
This cut does not include servicing of equipment and power lines, which will continue to be regulated.
Additional savings can be generated if towns and organizations join a purchasing aggregation, or purchasing pool, system to gain favorable prices through competitive bidding.
Council Debates Best Use Of ‘Pocket Park’ Funds
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
Tamaques Elementary Welcomes Interim Principal
Prior to her current position as principal,shetaught graduatecoursesinschool administration, early childhood, learning environments and classroom management.She alsosupervisedteachersat Columbia International University in Columbia, South Carolina.
Dr. Divisek told The Westfield Leader
that she was looking forward to the next five months as interim principal of Tamaques Elementary School.
“I have always enjoyed working with the students and community,” she explained of her experience with Westfield Public Schools.
She noted that Tamaques Elementary has “an active parent community, a staff thatisveryprofessional, (asaretheother staffs in the school system) and innova
tive in approaches.” “They (the Tamaques School community)extend themselveswellbeyondwhat is normally expected,” she added.
Dr. Divisek stated that a search is currently being conducted by members of the Westfield Board of Education to fill the permanent seat of Tamaques Elementary School Principal.
Sheaddedthatthe boardhopestohave a new principalship in place by the closing of the school year.
When asked about her goals for Tamaques students for the five months during which she will serve, Dr. Divisek stated that she strives “to maintain the excellent programs that have been in already been put into effect.”