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Michelle H. LePoidevin
ARTS and ENTERTAINMENT
Letters to the Editor
Town Needs to Consider Alternatives Before Building Downtown Parking Deck
As indicated in a recent letter to the editor from Town Councilman Carl A. Salisbury, our Town Council for many years has expressed the mandate of the taxpayers and has not committed our hard earned tax dollars to building a parking garage.
We, once again, are faced with the possibility that parking garages will be built in Westfield. The underlying reasons seem to be that our retail stores and about 600 commuters want additional parking. Before we commit any further in this direction, we the taxpayers need to consider a few things.
One, alternative transportation, such as cycling, roller blading, walking, etc. works and would probably reduce the perception that additional commuter parking is needed. I have spent some 20 years, year round, cycling to the station.
Two, we need to develop an alliance of building uses such as retail, residential office and parking that then might financially justify building garages, if they are still found to be needed. It is suggested that senior citizen housing also could be combined with these structures. Then maybe we, the taxpayers, will be properly represented.
The transition of housing in our town has been a constant. There has always been a need for our mature citizens to
have a home in which to enjoy their golden years, and the need of our growing families for homes in which to raise our future generations. This is the opportune time to consider this alliance for the future of our town.
Your tax dollars will be spent for you, if you do not speak up on this issue.
Matthew J. Sheehy Westfield
Garden Club Thanks Reporter for Feature
On behalf of members of the Garden Club of Westfield, I would like to commend your reporter, Michelle H. LePoidevin, for her excellent feature article about our club on your Arts & Entertainment page of September 23.
We appreciate her tribute to the many members who contribute countless hours workingto promotebeautyinWestfield’s parks, library, and the eight tubs at the intersection of Broad and Elm.
She also compiled a helpful list of the many edible flowers that can grace our tables, including her own recipe for deep fried zucchini. Sounds delectable!
Jody Melloan, Publicity Chairman Garden Club of Westfield
Councilwoman Hopes to Fix Facilities, But Not at Local Residents’ Expense
As your Town Council member representing the Fourth Ward and as a member of the Recreation Commission, I want to reassure residents concerned over certain proposals contained in the Commission’s draft Master Plan for the Memorial Pool complex, which was developed by Kinsey Associates, a nationally-recognized park and recreation consulting and design firm.
First, I must express my thanks to the many residents who contacted me and allowed me to visit their homes near Memorial Park to see first hand from adjoining properties, the negative impact which would be caused by some of the proposals in the Kinsey draft plan.
In addition, I’m glad that many residents, not only from the neighborhood, but from throughout the community addressed these concerns to the Recreation Commission and the council.
As was explained at the two public meetings, the Recreation Commission forum was the first step in gathering
public opinion about the Kinsey plan. I agree that a group representing the stakeholders — neighbors, pool and field users and members of the Recreation Commission and staff — should be created to work with Kinsey to ensure that modifications to the current uses are compatible with the surrounding neighborhood.
Clearly, the complete project list containedseveralcontroversialimprovement projects, none of which will move forward without solid public support.
The goals of the Kinsey plan were to address our community’s need for additional and improved recreational facilities. I remain committed to ensuring that we will continue to raise the quality of our fields and its facilities, but not at the expense of its neighbors.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns at (908) 233-0189.
Janis Fried Weinstein Fourth Ward Councilwoman
One of Michael Jackson’s albums is named “Bad,” and according to his fans and critics, it is bad, which, of course, means good. Join us for a journey to the dark side of this word, before it gained respectability and came to mean good.
Bad is an Anglo Saxon contribution to English and is directly derived from baeddel, which in early English meant “homosexual.”
As the sexual connotation eventually receded, the general sense of evil emerged. Finally, according to the “AmericanHeritageDictionary,”bad came to mean “not achieving an adequate standard.”
You probably thought that the only things that improve with age are wine and cheese. As you can see, word meanings can improve with time as well. In linguistic circles, this process is called amelioration.
In the slang sense, in fact, bad has changed course 180-degrees, currently meaning “very good; great.” What goes around comes around.
Finderne Resident’s Recent Letter Was ‘Presumptuous’, Reader Says
This is in response to a “request” that was printed in the September 30 edition of The Westfield Leader from a man named Brian E. Hoyt of Finderne.
I would like to start off by saying to “Mr. Finderne” that, according to your definition, my wife and I are not fit to be Westfield residents. You see sir, we are not “rich” and we are not privy to an “obscene amount of wealth.”
My wife and I worked hard and made a lot of sacrifices to buy our home. We have not built a “lucrative empire” by forcing minions of non-Westfielders to do hours of hard, thankless work for us.
Mr. Hoyt, your “request” was presumptuous, obnoxious,andquitefrankly, insulting.
I saw what the residents of Bound Brook, Manville and beyond went through with Hurricane Floyd and I can’t
even begin to know what it must be like to lose everything.
My thoughts and prayers have been with them on a daily basis and I hope that they recover from this disaster as best they can.
My wife and I experienced some mild damage that does not, and will not, ever compare to what those people suffered and we are keeping our fingers crossed, hoping that our insurance will help us pay for the damage.
In the future, Mr. Hoyt, may I suggest that when asking people to donate anything, a simple “please” and a “thank you” go a lot farther than making outrageous assumptions and grossly overrated statements.
Your “request” simply came across as exaggerated groveling.
Patrick Cerria Westfield
Westfielder Calls Proposed Plans For Park and Pool ‘Disastrous’
Does it surprise anyone that the plans for Memorial Park came to us — like Athena from Zeus — full-grown to the last detail, with no input from those affected, and who have to pay for it?
Why was there no notice given the people that these so-called “improvements” were being considered?
The entire plan is disastrous. It’s unbelievable that a town like ours would even consider removing one of our last wooded areas, to pave over for a parking lot.
Memorial Park can’t and shouldn’t be expected to accommodate every sport. All this activity — traffic, lights, etc. — woulddestroy aviable,establishedneigh
borhood. It’s entirely too much for any one part of town to absorb.
As to the pool, it’s fine the way it is. Mr. Davis has been doing a good job, and we shouldn’t fix what “ain’t broke.” The idea of a wading pool for adults is so ludicrous that it’s beyond belief (my husband says, “Why not put a bar in there!”).
The other plans don’t even deserve discussion, unless we want Disney East there. Why can’t the diving pool just be repaired?
We should get our money back from the professional study group!
Helen M. Livesey Westfield Police, Fire, Rescue Squad Personnel
Deserve Credit for Aid During Floyd
I am writing in response to an article which appeared in the September 30th edition of The Times regarding Hurricane Floyd and Fanwood’s need to coordinate emergency efforts with Scotch Plains.
This article might give readers the impression that Fanwood’s emergency services were lacking during the hurricane situation. The author’s interest in “better coordination of emergency ser
vices” might suggest that Fanwood’s police, fire and rescue services fell short of resident needs.
And, while I do not believe that the gentlemen quoted in the article intended any such thing in their statements, I feel that further comment is appropriate.
During Hurricane Floyd, our police department responded to a minimum of 70 calls. Our fire department responded to countless requests for assistance which included efforts ranging from basement pumping to urgently needed evacuations.
In one week alone, our rescue squad volunteered over 120 man hours to flood relief efforts in Bound Brook. Our police and fire departments and rescue squad regularly provide supportive assistance to other communities and request aid when it is warranted.
Fanwood residents have ample cause for justifiable confidence and pride in our borough’s emergency services!
A comment in the September 30 article stated, “they (residents) want to know that a safety net of some kind is in place.” I hasten to add that Fanwood residentsmayrest assuredthatthe“safety nets” provided by our police, fire, and rescue personnel are very much in place and working.
Adele Kenny Fanwood
HUNG UP!! HUNG UP!! HUNG UP!! HUNG UP!! HUNG UP!!
By Milt Faith, Executive Director
Youth and Family Counseling Service
Rude Treatment by Adult Daughter Makes Mother Feel Angry, Abused
A frustrated mother writes:
I have a problem with my daughter. She is an adult, married with children. We used to have a satisfactory relationship, but in the last few years it has deteriorated.
My biggest problem is the way she speaks to me, as well as to others. I find her to be rude and disrespectful.
I have told her that I do not care for the way she speaks to me and that I am her mother, and regardless of whether we agree or not, she still should show me respect.
Her response is, “Well, I don’t like the way you talk to me!”
I find myself feeling angry and abused during telephoneconversations.Shelives far away, so the phone is our usual contact.
Other people notice her rudeness, and have commented to me, but never to her, so she thinks it’s only my problem.
How can I get through to her, that she is not only hurting me, and our relationship, but she’s hurting herself, and her relationship with many others? Help!
It is very frustrating to resolve any difficult issue, or a specific problem, when the two individuals do not live near each other and have to communicate on the phone.
I would be interested to find out why a satisfactory relationship in the past has become a problem in the present.
You could (if you haven’t already) ask her specifically why the rude attitude and after the phone call, try to assess what she said in order to reply in as objective a manner as possible.
If the two of you remain unable to resolve the situation, you have to decide if you want to expose yourself to abuse. If you want to continue the relationship because you care about her, there are grandchildren involved, etc., make your calls as brief as possible, stay on tangible subjects, and, if and when your daughter becomes disrespectful, tell her you’ll speak to her soon and hang up.
Sometimes, I encourage the use of a three-minute timer so that you know you have a certain amount of time to talk and then end the call before a problem escalates.
I do not encourage you to tell her that other people find her rude; she will become defensive and verbally abusive. If anyone has feelings about her attitude, encourage them to talk to her directly.
The important question is: has this been a relationship that was good and turned difficult, or has it been a relationship that has had elements of control and power struggles in earlier years? If nothing changes, you may want to talk to a counselor once to obtain a better understanding of your feelings and options.
A young adult writes:
I am 21-years-old and my mother always accuses me of going out with men who do not treat me well.
I do like guys who know what they want, and kinda live in the fast lane. They like to have a good time, smoke pot, drive fast cars. They make me feel good and say they love me, but I think they just want to spend the night with me.
I am in college and I am trying to get my head together. Believe me, I do not write to newspapers, but my mom told me to write to you. She did 20 years ago and it helped her.
Thank you for writing. You seem to be a young person who is trying to find her way in relationships; you are also uncertain about what you want and you feel used; you are struggling with immediate gratification versus delayed gratification — trying to figure out what is best for you in the future.
Please speak to a professional counselor who will help you focus on your needs, goals, self image, etc. so that you can better understand yourself and seek healthierdecisions insteadofthosewhich make you happy for the moment.
Listen to a great song, the Shirelles’ “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” which asks the question in a relationship: “Is this a lasting treasure, or just a moments pleasure?”
A daughter-in-law writes:
What would you say if your wealthy mother-in-law, a controlling witch, told you that she will pay the expenses for an entire expensive wedding if my husband and I permit her to arrange everything, and permit her to escort the bride down the aisle.
We disapprove and we are tired of her attempts to manipulate us with her wealth. It would certainly be the wedding to end all weddings but we have had it.
Is there a way to tell her that we’ll do it our way with or without her money, but we want to be in charge?
You might try the direct approach and say “We’ll do the wedding with or without your money, but we want to be in charge!” Sound familiar? Just remember to stick to your resolve.
It appears this anger has been building and it is about time you take hold.
Letters to the Editor
Town Charter Deserves Complete Look; Not Just A Change in Length of Terms
A lot of my summer has been devoted to two causes — a committee studying the local government in the shore community where we have a summer home, and playing a role in the musical 1776 at Surflite Theater. There is some interface and relevance from both to the Westfield scene, particularly the current single issue crusade to change the length of terms of Westfield Mayor and Town Council.
The musical has a number of truths I thought of frequently during my terms as councilman, mayor and other decisionmaking offices. The Georgia delegate at first cannot decide if representing the people means relying on their judgment or his own; later he remembers Edmund Burke’sview, that“arepresentativeowes the people not only his industry but his judgment — and that he betrays them if he sacrifices it to their opinion.”
The Rhode Island delegate says he has never seen, heard or smelled an issue that was so dangerous that it couldn’t be talked about. And Franklin notes that most questions are clear when someone else has to decide them.
The citizens study group at the shore reviewed change of government reports and proposals from several communities, and heard from experts, all demonstrating the tremendous variety of standard forms available in our state, going under a variety of names.
Most changes these days around New Jersey are to the Council-Administrator form, which has a weak mayor, largely ceremonial, first among equals.
Ten out of 566 have special charters; Westfield is one. Looking at these other
communities with the benefit of hindsight and over 20 years personal involvement with Westfield government, I believe the architects of our charter in the mid-1960s did an outstanding job of combining the best features of a number of formats.
In 1961, the Westfield voters rejected one of the “off-the-shelf” forms which, incidentally, provided for terms of office — four years — longer than the two years our charter architects specified. Among other features, we have a strong office of mayor, the town’s CEO, and the only local government organization I know of in New Jersey which provides for two elected officials from each ward, givingthe opportunityfordifferentviews (and parties) to be represented from each of four different areas in town. Such is not permitted in existing off-the-shelf alternatives.
A lot of thought and effort went into our 1967 charter, and a lot of experience under it by mayors and council members has occurred. There may be features that need attention and consideration other than term of office — the same issues that have to be examined at the shore.
For example, partisan or non-partisan elections, continuance of the ward system vs. some or all council members elected at-large, continuation or modification of our committee system in light of the Sunshine Law, continuance of the present strong mayor features, and so on.
A quote from a New York Times column (September 3) seems in order: “When public officials tinker with the Constitution, which is what the City Charter is for New York, they step on delicate terrain. At a minimum, they must show that their motives are pure. On that score, Mr. Guiliani has left a lot of New Yorkers unconvinced.”
Finally, by bringing the term of office change to a vote in the dog days of summer,a fundamentalifunwrittenlongstanding rule of Westfield politics/government was violated: if at all possible, do not bring controversial items up when people are away or focusing on other things; they resent it and accuse you, with varying degrees of validity, of trying to sneak something past.
I think going to the Legislature, or the Westfield voters for that matter, with a hastily cobbled proposal to deal with only one aspect of our government, terms of office, is the wrong way to proceed. The legislative history for same would consist solely of newspaper accounts of varyingopinions expressedbythepresent Mayor and Council.
A non-statutory study committee, which would be open to participation by all residents who are interested in making a serious, knowledgeable contribution to governance of this town, would not be untimely after 40 years. Maybe everything in the present charter, other than term of office is absolutely perfect, but human experience suggests other things at least deserve a look-see.
Obviously such a committee should draw on the many leadership resources in our community and should, in a thoughtful process, address the experience and benefits of other forms and other communities, as to terms of office and everything else. That is the right, the Westfield, way of doing things.
Garland “Bud” Boothe Former Mayor
www.goleader.com More Letters
On Page 16
Officials, Residents Need to Work Together To Develop Best Use for Dean Oil Property
Now that hearings on a controversial application for apartments at the Dean Oil site in Fanwood have been concluded by the Planning Board, it is time for borough officials and residents to begin working together to develop an appropriate plan for the 1.3acre site.
Hearings on the controversial proposal – which often seemed epic in the amount of testimony and emotion it generated – ended last week with a 6-1 vote by the board to deny the application. Board members, who felt the planned 25-unit complex, was too dense for the site, also had lingering concerns over potential seepage of contaminants onto the property, among other issues.
Such issues included the anticipated impact the development would have on plans to revitalize the business district, and fears that it would create an unwanted spurt in the local school population and an increase in education costs.
Developments in neighboring Scotch Plains over the last few years have caused the district to complete a facilities plan (to be unveiled at the Scotch PlainsFanwood Board of Education’s Tuesday, November 9 meeting) to determine if and where additional classrooms are needed district-wide.
Developing a good economic plan for the borough is not just about tax ratables. It’s about developing a vibrant downtown that can attract residents and visitors alike. This long-vacant site presents a major opportunity for Fanwood.
The first course of action, though, must be further investigation into possible contamination of the lot from neighboring sites, to the satisfaction of not only Fanwood officials but also the state Department of Environmental Protection.
We expect to see many proposals put forth for the Dean Oil site, including more discussion on a proposal by Borough Councilman and Republican Mayoral contender Louis C. Jung. His plan would relocate the Fanwood Post Office to the site from its current location at the intersection of South and Martine Avenues.
He has said the current building is too small for the Post Office’s customer base, and that the new location would create a so-called “anchor store” by generating
foot traffic for businesses along South Avenue. All avenues for this site need to be explored, however, before a final resolution of the property is reached. The property is zoned for commercial use, although the borough’s revised Master Plan calls for it to be rezoned as general commercial. Borough Council members are expected to adopt Fanwood’s revised zoning ordinance before the end of the year.
On Election Day, Tuesday, November 2, voters will decide through a ballot question whether they feel the borough should pursue acquisition of the site through the right of eminent domain. The ordinance to create the non-binding referendum, adopted by the Borough Council in June, was first presented to the governing body inMaybyCouncil PresidentWilliamE.Populus, Jr., the Democratic Mayoral contender. It is imperative that all Fanwood voters take advantage of the opportunity to let their voices be heard on this issue.
The borough’s long-range plan, entitled “A Future for Fanwood,” calls for improvements to the municipality’s downtown,commuterandrecreational areas, as well as the municipal complex — some of whichhavealreadybeen achieved.Forthedowntown, the plan includes enhancements to the back areas of stores along the west side of Martine Avenue, additional parking stalls, decorative paver blocks and lighting,plus therecently-unveiledMillenniumClock.
Officials are seeking to tie together the central downtown area with the remainder of the downtown, including the section encompassing the A&P shopping center on South Avenue to the west of Martine Avenue and offices along Old South Avenue. The entire downtown area would reflect a Victorian streetscape theme.
The borough has received a total of $400,000 in state and Union County grants to move forward with its revitalization plan. Fanwood’s governing body is also hoping to receive an additional $10,000 from the county for a consultant to perform a marketing analysis of the Dean Oil property to determine the best potential use for the site.
The future of this site will have a major impact on the future of this small community of just 1.3 square miles. We urge residents and officials to continue to take a proactive stand on the future of this property.