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From The Pen of Tom Jardim
Tom JardimA dictionary definition of the word "Forum" reads: "The public market place of an ancient Roman city, where popular assemblies met, and most legal and political business was transacted." With the "Forum," the Westfield Leader's new addition to its excellent web site, the Leader continues its tradition as the Town's public market place. This Forum will allow for the immediate, un-filtered and un-edited flow of ideas and opinions on the issues currently facing our Town. I encourage you to visit this site regularly, and to respond back to me at Town Hall (789-4046), at home (233-5163) or by e-mail (tcjardim@i-2000.com) with your comments on the ideas and opinions expressed here.

The difficult part about being mayor of Westfield is sifting through the many suggestions I receive from residents of this Town about how to make Westfield government work better and more efficiently but to provide better services for less dollars. In truth, there are more good ideas in this regard than there are hours in the day for putting these ideas into action. What is important to remember is that Westfield need not "reinvent the wheel," as most ideas have been tried by other municipalities all accross the country. The tricky part, however, is understanding which ideas are right for Westfield.

Two suggestions were made to me recently, which both seem to me to be good ideas worth exploring. First, recently I was told about a municipality in Maryland which, on Saturday afternoons, rents out a small portion of its firehouse for childrens' birthday parties. The party costs $10 per child, and the fire department raises over $10,000 per year on these events. Besides cake and ice cream, the children are shown the fire engines and gear, and are taught about fire safety and 911.

A second suggestion, recently presented to the Town Council, was for the placement of "Welcome to Westfield" signs at entrance points into Town. The costs of these signs would be completely underwritten by local merchants who, in exchange, would have the names of their businesses on a portion of the signs. The signs themselves would, of course, be aesthetically appropriate and in keeping with the character of the Town and, the names of the underwriters would be small enough so as to be inoffensive.

What's your opinion on these ideas? Can you think of reasons why we, as a Town, would not want to take action on either suggestion?

I look forward to your comments.

May 5, 1997

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