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Council Approves Naming Tamaques Field in Albert Moeller’s Memory; Appointments Announced for Mayoral Commissions


Specially Written for The Westfield Leader

Six Past Commanders of the Martin Wallberg Post No. 3, American Legion, were on hand Tuesday night to hear the Town Council approve a resolution honoring the late Albert J. Moeller, who was instrumental in the success of Westfield’s American Legion baseball program for some 35 years. A plaque will be erected in his memory in Tamaques Park in the vicinity of the baseball field.

Mr. Moeller, who died on December 15 at the age of 78, will be remembered by having a baseball field named after him at Tamaques Park. A plaque will be placed on a rock in the park honoring him. A ceremony will be held later this year.

Born in Jersey City, he moved to Westfield in 1951, working for Hallmark Greeting Cards for 45 years before retiring as Regional Vice President in 1983.

Mr. Moeller had been a life member and Past Commander of the Martin Wallberg Post. He also served as Service Officer, Membership Chairman and Baseball Team Manager. He was also National Vice Commander of the American Legion and Commander of the state and Union County American Legion organization.

Fourth Ward Councilman Lawrence A. Goldman said Mr. Moeller exemplified the importance of the "spirit of voluntarism in Westfield." He said it was a "great gesture" on the part of the council to honor Mr. Moeller.

Charles Townsend, a Past Commander of the American Legion, told the council that Mr. Moeller had "dedicated his life to baseball." The American Legion was also represented by Past Commanders Fred Molchow, Harry Powers, Richard Koski, Sam Fiorina, and current Vice Commander Robert Tinenmin.

Among those persons who played for Mr. Moeller was former Los Angeles Dodgers catcher and New York Mets Manager, Jeff Torborg.

Mr. Torborg wrote a letter to the council, a copy of which was obtained by The Westfield Leader, in which he stated that Mr. Moeller "meant so much to Westfield, especially to those ballplayers who were fortunate enough to play for the Martin Wallberg Post No. 3 team."

Mr. Torborg, who grew up on First Street, played for Mr. Moeller and legendary Westfield High School football coach Jeff Freeman, who ran the American Legion baseball team. Over the four years Mr. Torborg played on that team, they won three Union County championships.

"Tamaques Park will never be the same without Al’s shrill piercing voice, which he could have used for public address announcements without a loudspeaker, exhorting a young player with ‘atta baby’," Mr. Torborg explained in his letter.

He said the plaque will help Westfielders remember a man who "did so much for so many."

The idea for the dedication of the park came from Arthur C. Fried who first contacted Councilman Goldman about his request in January. The resolution was sponsored by Second Ward Councilman Matthew P. Albano, Chairman of the Building and Town Property Committee.

First Ward Councilman Norman N. Greco, a former American Legion baseball player himself some 40 years ago, said "it is people like Al" who made the difference in the success of baseball leagues in Westfield.

Councilman Greco played on the first American Legion team as well as in the Little League program which was launched in town in the early 1950s.

In other business, Mayor Thomas C. Jardim announced that ad hoc commissions he formed on municipal budget review, through service to New York City on New Jersey Transit’s Raritan Valley line, and on the town’s solid waste disposal system, will meet for the first time in March.

The Westfield Expenditure and Review Commission (WERC) will meet this Monday, March 3, at 7:30 p.m.; the Westfield Solid Waste Advisory Commission will meet Thursday, March 13, at 8 p.m., while the Raritan Valley Commuter Advisory Commission will meet Monday, March 10, at 7:30 p.m. All meetings will be held at the Municipal Building.

William F. Brennan, a former Town Council candidate, will head up the WERC as well as coordinate the work of the other two commissions.

Serving on WERC will be Maury Acker of Roanoke Road, Thomas Tweedie of Stoneleigh Park, former Mayor H. Emerson Thomas of Cowperthwaite Place; Kate Wertheimer of Nottingham Place; Robert Steitz of Bradford Avenue; Nicholas Ponzio of Harrison Avenue; Jeff Scheininger of Woodmere Drive; Monica Barrow of Roger Drive; Peter Echausse of Tuttle Parkway; David Haas of Shackamaxon Drive, and Fred Tompkins of Grove Street.

The Raritan Valley Committee will include Eric Garrielson of Prospect Street; Richard Aichele of Harrison Avenue; Cecilie Lofters of Woodland Avenue; Melissa Stanton of Cory Place; Christopher Dorman of Dudley Court; Joseph DiProspero of Kimball Avenue; Janice Karlen and Jon Tainow, both of Summit Avenue; David Judd of Leigh Drive; Elyse Webber-Sacks of Knollwood Terrace; Neil Grandstrand of Embree Crescent; Richard Andreski of Warren Street; John C. Lesher of Birch Avenue, and Michael Albano of South Avenue, West.

Named to the Solid Waste Committee are Ronnie Kaufman of Edgewood Avenue; Claudia Cuca of Montauk Drive; former Mayor Raymond W. Stone of Ripley Avenue; Richard Friedman of Carleton Road; Beth A. Tanzosh of Trinity Place; Joan Buhrendorf of Bradford Avenue, and William Kravec of Coolidge Street.

Mayor Jardim said anyone interested in either of the three commissions is invited to attend these meetings.

During the public portion of the meeting, several residents of Linden Avenue addressed the council over a recent letter concerning a tax assessment for improvements to their street.

Donald Curry said the February 5-dated letter from Town Engineer Kenneth B. Marsh noted that the proposed assessment has been set at $21 per square foot of frontage area for repaving of the street. Mr. Curry, who said he is opposed to the assessment, noted that the street is used by parents dropping off and picking up their children at the Wilson Elementary School.

He said he would like the town to apply for state grants for repairs on the street. Mr. Curry, a four-year resident, noted that the street has not been repaved in over 30 years.

Resident Ann Harris, a 30-year resident of the street, noted that the road’s shoulder is in poor condition and that there are many potholes throughout the street. She said the town has said it would pave the road in the past but only if Belgium block curbing was added, which residents rejected.

"It is the general consensus (of Linden Avenue residents) that the maintaining of streets is the town’s responsibility and not the residents responsibility," she said.

Second Ward Councilman James J. Gruba, Chairman of the Finance Committee, said that over the past 10 budgets, 23 streets in town were paved, with 18 paved through assessments on property owners with five paved with state funding. He said, based on the concerns of residents on the street, perhaps the council should take another look at improvements on the street.

Third Ward Councilman John J. Walsh, Chairman of the Public Works Committee, explained that he would ask the council to review its policy on how street improvements are paid for, including the tax assessment process. Mayor Jardim agreed that a "comprehensive" look needs be done at the town’s road improvement policy.

Mr. Marsh noted that if the council opts to include Linden Avenue on its list of road projects to be submitted to the state for its Transportation Trust Fund grant, a decision must be made this spring since the list must be submitted to the state by June.

He said Department of Transportation officials announce which projects will be funded in November. Thus, if approved, Linden Avenue would be a 1998 capital project.

Neil Koop of Linden Avenue noted that in 1942 he paid annual property taxes of $352 and now pays $9,000. He questioned why homeowners should have to foot the bill for improvements when the road is heavily used by motorists.

On another issue, Anthony M. LaPorta of North Chestnut Street, a former councilman and Mayoral contender, spoke of his continued opposition to the town’s Special Improvement District (SID).

He said he has a "serious problem" with the $226,000 budget approved by the SID board, noting that based on this figure, the SID might be looking to spend in excess of $1 million over the course of the next four years.

"I don’t think we are going to see much in terms of improvements" as result of approval of the SID budget, he told the council. Mr. LaPorta suggested that the SID board would better serve downtown landlords and merchants if it were an elected board chosen by the downtown community.

He said if the council approves the SID budget in April, it would in essence be giving a non-elected body the power to tax properties within the SID. Mr. LaPorta said at best the SID budget should be significantly slashed, recommending that permission be given for the SID board to use the Municipal Building as its headquarters, thus eliminating the cost for rent and utilities.

Town Attorney Charles H. Brandt explained that state laws regarding SID are very specific in that such boards must be appointed.

Mayor Jardim described the SID as a kind of "neighborhood association with dues." He said once the final budget is adopted, following a separate hearing the same night as the town budget is adopted, the Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce, merchants, landlords and residents must all embrace the SID projects if the entity is to be a success.

The council will meet next Wednesday, March 5, at 8 p.m. The change was approved by the governing body in an effort to allow residents to attend both Board of Education and council meetings. The council and school board hold their meetings on Tuesday nights.

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