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ARTS and ENTERTAINMENT
THE BUCK STOPS HERE President Harry Truman had a sign on his desk in the oval office that read, “The Buck Stops Here!” HowPOSTMASTER: ever, the buck that “give ’em hell Harry” was talking about was not the same as the greenbacked paper variPUBLISHED ety that you carry in your wallet or handbag.
Harry’s nowfamousdeskreminder referred to a counter (a chip or disk) which was passed on from one perJoanna son to another to designate the next dealer in a poker game. Perhaps this little counter was originally made out of buck or goat (buc) hide, but we probably will never know.
The word buck, which is also used as a slang word for the United States dollar, came from the hide of a male (buck)deer, whichwaswidelytraded in barter by frontiersmen in the early 1700s. And that’s where this buck stops.
’99 State Budget Reflects State’s Financial Strength
By Senator Donald T. DiFrancesco
For several years now, New Jersey’s economy has been booming, its unem ployment level has been held under 5 percent for a year and a half, and tax revenues have been flowing into state coffers at a rate reminiscent of the late 1980s.
Therecently enactedfiscalyear2000 state budget reflects the great finan cial strength the Garden State cur rently enjoys by addressing the needs of all of our citizens.
The $19.5 billion budget document meets the priorities of New Jerseyans headon. In fact, it takes direct aim at the most pressing area of concern to our taxpayers: property taxes. This budget contains over $8.7 billion in property tax relief for New Jersey’s hardworking families and senior citi zens.
Not only does it provide a record total of $6.4 billion in education aid and $1.9 million in municipal aid, it also boosts spending on a host of new property tax relief initiatives, includ ing $170 million for the first install ment of the New Jersey Saver Pro gram, and $11.5 million for my pro posal to tie the level of municipal aid to the inflation index.
As New Jerseyans discovered in Aprilwhenfiling theirtaxes,thephase in of the property tax deduction gram has been completed, allowing
homeowners to deduct their property taxes from their state tax liability.
The budget also contains $24 mil lion to pay for a property tax freeze for eligible senior citizens and $5 million to exclude a greater portion of seniors’ pensions from state taxes, making it moreaffordablefor thoseonlow,fixed incomes to stay in New Jersey during their retirement years.
The budget also recognizes that safe and functional school buildings are essential to delivering a quality educa tion to our children. It therefore cludes $112 million as an initial payment
toward a $5.3 billion ment to construct and repair school facilities across the state over the next several years.
There is also $457 million in additional formula aid and $156 million in debt service aid to ensure that our schools have the funds they need to maintain excellence in the classroom.
Property tax relief and education funding have always been top cerns for New Jerseyans. However,
lastNovember,votersoverwhelmingly asked that this budget include $98 million to address the dwindling amount of open space in New Jersey’s rural, suburban and urban areas. The ultimate goal is to preserve one mil lion acres of open space beginning this year.
The budget also increases the Shore Protection Fund from $10 million to $20 million to protect our beaches from the threat of erosion, and invests an additional $14.3 million to vate the state’s parks and historic sites.
The viability of the state’s health care system and transportation work were also given serious attention
this fiscal year. That is why the state budget provides nearly $23 million to improve elder care and to provide Cost of Living Adjustment increases for
direct and personal care workers, as well as $500,000 for background checks for personal care attendants.
Our standard of living in New Jer seydependsnot onlyupontheeconomy and upon the availability of good jobs, but also upon the quality of services available to our citizens. This budget takes the necessary steps to preserve quality health care in our state.
Though often taken for granted, the state’s transportation network is also an important quality of life issue. The fiscal year 2000 budget lifts the cap on the Transportation Trust Fund from $700 million to $900 million to ensure that vital road and bridge improve ment projects get done in the coming year.
Maintenance of our infrastructure is vital to our commuters, to our busi nesses and to our continued economic growth.Transportationinvestmentsare always dollars well spent for our present and future prosperity.
Despite thenation’srecordeconomic expansion, the ebb and flow of the state and country’s economic cycle will certainly continue in the next cen tury. With this budget, we will be able to withstand any economic downturn, and will be wellprepared to reap the bounty of future economic prosperity.
pro* * * * *
Donald T. DiFrancesco, a Scotch Plains resident, is President of the New Jersey State Senate. He repre sents the 22nd Legislative District which includes Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood and Mountainside.
Former Mayor Thomas TwoYr. Terms
Editor’s Note: The following ter was sent to Westfield Mayor C. Jardim and forwarded to the office of The Westfield Leader and
The Times of Scotch Plains
* * * * *
In regard to the articles in The Westfield Leader relative to chang ing the period of service of town officialsfromtwo yearstofouryears,
strongly oppose such a change. Ifoundfrommy sixyearsasmayor for three terms, as well as fourand onehalf years on the Town Council
to being mayor, that a twoyear term is definitely the proper period.
I hope that there will be no change in this procedure.
H. Emerson Thomas Westfield
Commission Says Nothing Yet Decided for LaGrande Building
Editor’s Note: The following letter was sent to this newspaper by Pamela Sayles on behalf of members of the Rec Commission.
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The members of the Fanwood reation Commission would like to set the record straight regarding the status of the proposed expansion of the LaGrande Park building, and our tion regarding the same. Simply stated,
and despite all the that you may have heard, as of our July 13th meeting nothing has been decided yet.
We volunteers who serve as ation Commissioners have but one goal — to make sure the parks in Fanwood
are the best they can be. We have received a grant of $100,000 to benefit our town. Our obvious next step is to meet with an architect to discuss the best possible options for the people of
RecFanwood as well as the park.
Our parks are as important to our families as they are to all Fanwood residents, so we have never desired
posinor considered turning the existing
building into a “banquet hall” ing additional parking spaces. While it is fortunate we live in a town where everyone is willing to get involved, it
Recreis unfortunate that these rumors have
circulated creating unnecessary con cern.
No one can deny that a small expan sion would enable more users and more uses for the existing building, which is currently little more than a small room with a supply closet.
One initial idea we have discussed would be to enhance the building by enclosing some of the area that now is covered by the awnings — and not change the existing perimeters at all. If that plan were not environmentally friendly, we could opt to do nothing at all. Only after we review the options, will we make a decision.
Citizens of Fanwood, we appreciate your patience and understanding of the work that we have before us, and given the good fortune of this grant, age you to dream with us of a better
Pamela Sayles Fanwood Recreation Commission Mayor Connelly Should Give Credit
Where Credit is Due on Grants
In the July 15 issue of The Times,
Fanwood Mayor Maryanne Connelly “attributed the borough’s success in obtaining grant money to Councilman Populus.” She said he had done much to“build goodrelationshipswithcounty and state legislators.”
Here’s the rest of the story: · WhenPopulusapproachedAssem Richard Bagger to get money for the rescue squad last year, he asked
Joel Whitaker to go with to show it had bipartisan support. Mr. Whitaker did so, and Fanwood got the money.
When Mr. Populus sought $100,000 from the state this year, he asked Councilman Lou Jung to go with him to meet with Senate President Donald DiFrancesco and men Bagger and Alan Augustine.
Councilman Jung attended not one but several meetings with Mr. DiFrancesco, Mr. Bagger and Mr. gustine. And he maintained close tact with them and their staffs.
Mr. Whitaker also has been active in urgingour legislativedelegationto“look out” for Fanwood.
encour· When Union County officials
divvied up a $5 million grant pie among 14 municipalities, Fanwood got $300,000. Simple math shows that if that grant was divided equally between the towns, Fanwood should have reBacks ceived $357,000. So we got less than
fair share. · For virtually all the grants attribmas uted to Mr. Populus, the applications were forwarded to him without request simplybyvirtueof hispositionasChairFanwood. man of the Administration and Finance Committee. They did not require traordinary research or expertise.
As Chairman of the Administration and Finance Committee, it is Mr. Populus’ obligation to apply for grants. The grants are often not awarded withI out the efforts of the Republican mem bers of council.
In years past, Andrew MacDonald, a Republican, and Bruce Walsh, a Demoprior crat, have Chaired the Administration andFinance CommitteeoftheFanwood BoroughCouncil.Itwas theirjobinthat position to apply for grants.
When they did so they did not pat themselves on the back and take sole
credit. If Councilman Populus has been able to obtain grant money, it is be cause he has been supported by Coun cilmen Jung and Whitaker. It would be nice if the Mayor gave credit where credit is due, rather than playing poli tics.
John Gurley, Vice President Fanwood Republican Club
Letters to the Editor
Girls Softball Director Weighs In On Condition of Westfield Fields
Well it’s great to see some overdue attention to the condition of the intown Assemblyplaying fields. My question is, is this
new news? As a director of the Girls Softball League of Westfield, as well as other traveling girls softball teams, this Auhas been a tremendous concern of mine confor the last five years, at least.
Without going into detail, I can guar antee you I’ve called The Leader many times about playing field conditions — with my emotions ranging from frus tratedtoirateto utterresignation,thelast
being the most reliable. Yourarticlewillhit manyanerve,but I feel you have overlooked an organiza tionthathasput upwiththeseconditions for too long, yet never is included in the mixofthings whenopinionsareneeded.
Need I add the fact that with over 500 girlsplayingsoftball atourhomeplaying fields — Memorial Park fields No. 1 through No. 4 — these fields are sup posed to be the equivalent of the boys home playing fields at Gumbert Park. Need I say more.
Also,is thereanythingmoredaunting than telling a recreation girls softball player“don’tbeafraid oftheball”when fielding grounders, as she is surrounded by imprinted size 14 spike prints, one letand half inch stones, and even the unour
Thopleasant sight of a lax “pooper scooper”
trail? Howaboutas anymotherwatchesand wonders if the new $4,000 braces are still going to be intact, or rather, will those $4,000 braces that were just re exmoved
be put back on, because of a bad hop?
I could go on and on but this is just to letyouknowthat youfouledtippedstrike numbertwo,and stillhaveanotherstrike left. And if you wish to make your at bat a productive one, I suggest you include our organization in any future discusPhotos sions, editorials,meetings,etc.,concernNo ingtheconditionsof theplayingfieldsin Westfield.
Thanks very much for your initial arNeed ticle.
Bob Guerriero, Director, Girls Softball League of Westfield Where Should the Responsibility Rest
For Maintaining Westfield’s Ball Fields?
Letters to the Editor
netOpponents to Apartment Plan Urge
Fanwoodians to Attend Meeting
Editor’s Note: The following letter was sent by Eric Hess, a member of the Fanwood Citizens for Responsible withmembersSueHess,
Peter and Pamela Sayles and Thomas and Ann Ryan.
* * * * *
The Fanwood Citizens for Respon sible Development (“ FCRD”) are again mobilizing the Fanwood community to attend and protest the apartment ing proposed for the former Dean Oil site
in Fanwood. The second Planning Board meeting, to be held on Wednesday, July 28, at 7: 30 p. m. at the Park Middle School rium, 580 Park Avenue, Scotch Plains,
will finally begin to allow residents to question whether the development of requirthis complex is in the best use for the
Fanwood community. At the last meeting we learned, among other things, that the proposed building height could still accommodate another level of units and the complex lacked sufficient storage space.
This complex is just a bad idea. The developer has not begun to address the community’s real issues, such as the effect that so many units in such a small area will have on the school system, the additional traffic and the loss of the general small town character of our munity.
The developer couldn’t even submit a complete or accurate application at the last meeting. What does he know about
this community? His poorly documented application laid out plans for the recy Decling bins to be maintained on the prevelopment,along
mises for curbside recycling when Fanwood doesn’t have curbside recyRecreation cling. What else is he missing?
Our concern is with the design of the building.Acomplex forthatmanypeople needs more common space such as green space, storage space and parking space.
buildThe children of the complex will have to
trek back and forth across a busy interreation section to get to the park across the street because there will be nowhere else for them to play.
AuditoThe bottom line is that the developers’
plans are irresponsible. What concerns us is the apparent support for the project from members of the Planning Board and even the local government.
A strong community turnout is the only way Fanwood is going to stop this project. The developer isn’t pulling back and we must continue to keep the presblyman sure on by attending the public meetings on this proposal and speaking out. EveryCouncilman one has better things to do on a Wedneshim day night, but the people of Fanwood need to make time for this hearing.
We welcome volunteers. Anyone in· terested should contact us by email at FCRD@ home. com or by phone at (908)
Eric Hess Fanwood Citizens for Responsible
In response to many requests from area softball players, we have published investigative stories over the past few weeks concerning the condition of Westfield’s ball fields. The players have been frustrated for the last few years, as they view the field conditions as not measuring up to the stan dards of other fields in Union County. Compound ing their frustration is the difficulty they have experienced in finding a responsive ear in town government.
Aftercompletingthistwopart series,it’sunclearto us who’s in charge of maintaining Westfield’s parks — particularly the softball fields. We know that after themeetings,studies, strategicplans,committeehear ings, department reviews, interoffice communica tions, county Pocket Park grant funding and other government actions, someone instructs a crew from
inthe DepartmentofPublicWorks (DPW),fromtimeto
committime, to do something.
The working crews are most visible, and they get theheat fromtheplayers.But, doestheDPWactually call the shots? We don’t know.
The town’s Recreation Department (and Commis sion)seemsto beinchargeof mostthingsthathappen with the parks. At least, when they want to be. The department exercises authority in approving, disap conproving
and initiating most things. This includes managingmoney, schedulingandprogrammingsports activities, creating and funding improvements, re viewing parking spaces, developing fencing initia tives, adding playground equipment and administer ing municipal pool memberships.
But the only things that physically get done with respect tofieldmaintenancecome fromtheDPW.The DPW is under different leadership and has many priorities.
Apparently, there is a gap in the system. The town renodoes
not seem to have direct accountability lines for the daily maintenance of fields in the community.
In the second segment of our series, which appears inthisissue, theofficialswespoke tosaidmoremoney is needed to fix the problem. But even if that is the solution — and we are not sold on that answer — in our judgment,someoneshouldbe clearlyinchargeof
and accountable for maintaining the town’s fields. Let’s get a bigger slice of the taxpayers money through the planning process and to the actual doing. A little maintenance saves a lot of capital dollars and avoids many bond referendums. In this case, it leads to many more satisfied customers.
In our view, there are no good guys or bad guys on this issue. Everyone’s trying to do the right thing. Everyonehasa lotontheirplate. Andtheseissuesare becomingmoreimportantto thecitizens,aseveryone seems to enjoy the town’s facilities. There are record turnouts for most activities. So, give government credit for the past work in creating this fine environ ment.
In finding the best solution to maintenance of the fields,let’s askhowothertowns suchasFanwoodand Scotch Plains get it done. Let’s ask the players. Then, organize and put a complete plan into action.
The many leagues that use town fields should be approached to help in any way they can. This has already beendonewithgreat successatGumbertPark inWestfield.
While an open space referendum, as suggested by someofficials,would generatemoretaxablerevenue, weurgea cautiousapproachinthis area.Afterall,the town is in the midst of planning for its first parking deck.Amajor bondhasjustbeen passedfortheschool system by the taxpayers.
In addition, the County of Union is considering an overall $46 million upgrade of the county’s recre ational grounds and facilities. All of these longterm projects will have a direct impact on local taxpayers. It is vitally important that the town reach out to the countyand theschoolsystemto seewhatimpactthese proposalswill haveontheoverall propertytaxbillfor Westfielders.
While longterm projects such as those proposed for Memorial Park and Sycamore Field are needed, a solution for daily upkeep must be developed before these efforts are completed.
Westfield is a great town in which to live. Let’s maintain the parks and recreational facilities. All residents and visitors are proud of the town and what it offers.
*** Ideals are like stars; you will not succeedin touchingthemwithyour hands. But like the seafaring man on the desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them you will reach your destiny.
– Charles Schurz
SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS… The Scotch Plains Business and Professional Association has announced the names of its scholarship recipients. Pictured, left to right, are: recipients Latasha Nehemiah, Robert Leichner, Scott Paterson and Adena Plesmid.