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Page 4 Thursday, June 25, 1998 The Westfield Leader and THE TIMES of Scotch Plains – Fanwood A WATCHUNG COMMUNICATIONS, INC. PUBLICATION

Letters to the Editor

POPCORN POPCORN POPCORN POPCORN POPCORN ™

By Michael S. Goldberger

Can't Hardly Wait:

No Real Hurry Here

One Popcorn, Poor • Two Popcorns, Fair • Three Popcorns, Good • Four Popcorns, Excellent

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THE TIMES

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Westfield, N. J. 07091 P. O. Box 368 Scotch Plains, N. J. 07076

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Once upon a time, I sat with fellow Baby Boomers and discussed the rela tivemeritsof "TheHowdyDoodyShow," aTVmainstayof ouryouth.Onemember of the chat group took us aback when he vehemently declared: "Clarabelle was an idiot."

No matter that Clarabelle was the kiddy show's resident clown and, by virtue of that calling, was supposed to be an idiot. Doubtless, there must have been some unresolved issues at the root of this fierce intolerance.

The incident came to mind after expe riencing the teeny- bopping, generation rejoicing Can't Hardly Wait. Like Clarabelle, it is what it is. Its unpreten tious celebration of the rites of spring is guaranteed manna for the high school class of 1998 and younger. But older folk who can't (or won't) relate its copycat merrymaking theme to their own salad days should spare themselves from its rampant egomania.

It is nightfall following high school graduation in the fictitious suburb of Huntington Hills. Party time! And the only thing that matters more than who's with who is who's hoping to be with who.

The big buzz setting the mood for this rock- accompanied mating ritual is that top jock Mike and prom queen Amanda have called it Splitsville. Girl Whose Party It Is, as she is glibly referred to in

credits,has invitedvirtuallythewhole graduating class to the soiree. And for the purposes of a no- brainer story expo sition, practicallyeveryoneinattendance fits a ready stereotype.

First there's shy Preston (Ethan Embry), certainly too good for his own good, but obviously bright enough to get into Dartmouth per the yearbook- style introductory pics. He's been carrying a torch for the seemingly unapproachable Amanda (Jennifer Love Hewitt) ever since he sat next to her in freshman English, and tonight could bring his chance.

Playing his life- long Platonic pal/ soul mate is Lauren Ambrose as Denise, the humorouslycausticexistentialistheaded for New York University. Her ing quote in the yearbook: "Your good

friends stab you in the front." Other recognizable types include: Charlie Korsmo as William, the nerd valedictorian who, for a life- time of humiliation, has plotted revenge against narcissistic Mike (Peter Facinelli); and Seth Green as Kenny, the tomfool white kid who features himself a homeboy.

Unlike American Graffiti, the lectual granddaddy of this genre, Can't

HardlyWaitis moreconcernedwithwhen why. Character motivations rarely venture past the hormonal level. In that respect, not only is it more akin to less pensive progenitors like Fast Times At RidgemontHigh andTheBreakfastClub,

but actually has more in common with the pre- social conscience "Beach Party" films of the early 1960s.

All that's missing in this latest mutation, co- written and directed by Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont, is the naughty innuendo. But who needs it? This contemporary paean to the sexual arrogance of youth is as candid as a PG- 13 rating will allow. While the bald- faced honesty is somewhat liberating, parents who attend with their teens may have to suppress a wince or two.

Limiting the comedy to the house and grounds where the party is being held allows for condensed action in and around concentric circles of interest. Serving like subtitles, background sic supports the silly doings with hardly

subtle verve, whether identifying ebul lience or soulfully rationalizing a porary romantic setback (i. e.—" Love

Hurts" echoesmournfullywhenAmanda rejects Preston's initial solicitation). Vignettes intersperse and splice with running gags, move on to one sphere of concern, flit to another, and then recycle through the conveyor belt of stock tionships.

Butinthisrapid- fireensembleofquick little tales perfect for moviegoers with attention deficit disorder, the traditional emphasis inevitably returns to good old Preston of the abiding heartache and his unrequited love, the comely Amanda.

Neither Miss Hewitt nor Mr. Embry let loose any sparks in their suburban teen version of "Cyrano," though they

The Union County Alliance held a celebration recently that was five years in the making.

State Senate President Donald T. DiFrancesco, State Senator Raymond J. Lesniak, andmydistinguishedFreeholder colleagues and I were joined by hun dreds of local business leaders, friends and guests at the L'Affaire Banquet Cen ter in Mountainside.

Why call this a celebration? Because prior to five years ago, there was little reason to celebrate if you were a business in Union County.

Union County always has been the home to tremendous resources and ent, rich in history and tradition. Our

geographic location, equipped with an international airport and the finest structure on the eastern seaboard, makes

identifyUnion County the gateway to one of the

world's mostdesirableeconomicregions. And yet, five years ago, Union County was sliding into the background of the marketplace while others took the lead in economic development.

Five years ago, Union County faced a tremendous challenge and our choices were limited. We could travel the path of the past, cross our fingers and hope that some outside influence would turn nomic realities in our favor. And, with

intelour fingers crossed, we would have

watched taxes climb higher and nesses continue to exit Union County. Or, simply, we could do something about it. And we did. Not with crossed fingers or hopes, but with our own plan of action.

Under the guidance of Senators Lesniak and DiFrancesco, business and government leaders were brought gether to find ways, individually and

percollectively, to move Union County ward in the arena of economic develop

ment. Businesses no longer stood alone in the marketplace. The driving force of economic developmentbecamenewbusi ness partnerships.

The Union County Alliance was formed.

Themissionwas tomoveUnionCounty forward by creating a strong local economy. Attract business to Union County and new jobs are created. Help thelocalbusinesses growandyouachieve the same result — new jobs are created. New businesses, strong businesses, munerships and new jobs — the formula for a healthy economy.

To move forward and achieve success, temyou must learn from the mistakes of the

past. Five years ago, neglect and tive leadership led to Union County's economic deterioration. We are mined to never allow that to happen again. The role of this body of ment working with the Alliance is clearly reladefined. The single most important issue tified by the Union County Board of

Chosen Freeholders is economic opment. Last year, the first Freeholder board with a Democratic majority established the Union County Department of nomic Development. The mission of this

department is to create an environment for companies to grow and prosper. We moved the divisions of Policy and ning and Community Development into

this department, where with a single phone call, our team of experts can pro vide guidance to businesses.

We made Cultural and Heritage a full division and put it under the director of economic development, recognizing that quality of life goes hand- in- hand with economic development in our long- term plan. The creation of the Freeholder ordinating Council on Economic opment was another step on our way to

building a strong economic foundation. In the Wall Street Journal last ber, we announced to the world that our

business community was speaking with a single voice in a 12- page supplement highlightingthe advantagesofdoingbusi ness in Union County. Businesses sup ported the section by paying over $100,000 for advertising in its pages.

Union County Alliance Cheers Five Years Growth

COUNTY" "COMMENTING ON UNION COUNTY" "COMMENTING ON UNION COUNTY" "COMMENTING "COMMENTINGON ONUNION UNIONCOUNTY" "COMMENTING ON UNION COUNTY"

By DANIAL P. SULLIVAN

Chairwoman – Union County Board of Freeholders

Again in October of last year, the Freeholder board sponsored a conferthe ence entitled"TransportingUnionCounty in the 21st Century: A Leadership ference on Economic Development."

Over 200 participants focused on structure and transportation issues to promote growth, expansion and renewal in our region.

The County hired DCG Corporation Consulting to prepare what is called a Forward Action Plan for Union County — an Economic Development Master Plan. This provides us with a hensive look at who is doing business in

talUnion County and what it will take to

keep them here and make them ful. We see the types of businesses we infrashould look to attract and ways for Union

County to grow. Because we are a gateway to New York and the eastern seaboard, tional trade was identified as an area of

great potential. We hired Global Market Strategies to focus on this and the results are surfacing. A delegation of ers traveled to Luxembourg earlier this

year to demonstrate the attractiveness of Union County in the global marketplace.

Pacific West, a Luxembourg company ecolooking to expand into the United States,

wrote the following in a letter to holder Linda d. Stender. He said, "I busimentioned that we are looking into ferent regions in the United States. Fithan

nally, we come to the decision that we want to build our United States business in Union County. I want to thank you already now for all your help and support you have given to us."

From Luxembourg, I take you across tothe world to China. This week, the Mayor

of Wenshou, the most industrialized and forfree market city in China, will visit Union

County. We have already accepted his invitation to continue talking and will be sending a delegation to China in ber. We are hopeful of a sister city ment in these meetings.

Just a few weeks ago, a delegation from Saudi Arabia visited our area and discussed Union County's advantages with officials from our Department of Economic Development and the Union County Economic Development Com pany.

Our vision of becoming a force in the partglobal marketplace is, as you see, becom

ing reality. And, while we recognize the importance of our role in the world, we have not lost sight of the needs we have right here at home. ineffecLed by Freeholder Vice Chairman

Nicholas P. Scutari, we have initiated the deterUnion County First program, giving local

businesses the first opportunity to do governness with the county before we look out side our boundaries for goods or services.

The county authorized funding in the idenamount of $6 million toward the structure costs of the flyover at the

develMetromall, helping make that project a

reality. Successful completion of Metromall translates into more jobs and opportunity for residents and more

Ecoratables for tax stability.

The Cross- County Rail Link will turn Union County's municipalities into a single business community, linking east

Planto west. Share with me the vision of an

individual boarding the Cross- County Rail Link from their home in Plainfield and traveling to the Retail Skills Job TrainingCenteratthe beth. This connection will eventually

lead to employment and a better future for this individual and their family.

This most definitely is a cause for celebration.

CoInstead of throwing money at a Devellem,

we gave the residents of Union County a solution to the garbage crisis. As a result of a lease agreement with

OctoOgden Martin, we saved the taxpayers of

Union County $9 million this year. We made a promise to our residents and delivered by keeping their hard- earned money in their pockets.

And by lowering the cost of tipping fees, we make doing business in Union County more affordable and desirable.

We are making Union County a great place to do business. We also are ing on making Union County a great

place to live and raise a family. Our $3 million Access 2000 program willputacomputer ineverypublicschool classroom by the end of the year 2000. Project Pocket Park is giving municipali ties over a million- and- a- half dollars to preserve open space. Our HEART grants give local artists up to $5,000 to continue their work.

We've done all this and have been able to lower taxes to Union County residents in each of the past two years. That's good government in action.

So you see now why our meeting today is cause for celebration. We have met the challenges of five years ago and learned how to lead Union County through them. Our future, working hand- in- hand with each other as partners, is limited only by how far we are willing to challenge selves.

Scotch Plains Resident Laments Loss of Westfield Zip Code

Editor'snote:This letterwassentto the Westfield Postmaster and copied to

The Westfield Leader. Since the recent focusexpansion

of the Scotch Plains Post Office, six mail routes in Scotch Plains that are delivered by the Westfield Post Office,willbe handledbyScotchPlains carriers,starting mately 1,200 Scotch Plains addresses

will drop the Westfield zip code and switch to the Scotch Plains zip code, 07076.

* * * * * It hascometomy out any notice to, or input from, your

local postal service customers, you are planning a change in postal delivery service that will have a substantial pact upon many of your customers. To

those ofuswhohave beenservedbythe Westfield post office since our homes were built more than thirty years ago, and who therefore have used a field post office address and zip code

all these years, this is a disturbing turn of events.

I wonder whether anyone has con sideredthe inconvenienceandcostthat residents will incur (1) notifying our entire circle of family, friends, inSeptember.Approxizations to which we belong, cals to which we subscribe, and ally everyone with whom we do ness; (2) reprinting stationery, checks,

labels and other items; and (3) having our mail routinely delayed because many pieces will undoubtedly attentionthatwithtinue to be addressed to zip code "07090"andwillhave tobereroutedto reach us.

imI believe I speak for many residents

whoaresimilarlysituated, tion the reason for the intended change and for the manner in which the sion is being made.

WestBarbara B. Wecker

ourWestfield probResident

Fears Electric Power Deregulation

Causes Pollution

If Governor Whitman permits regulation of the electric industry and out- of- state companies are allowed to sell power in New Jersey, the already poor quality of New Jersey's air will plummet. Right now, asthma, espe cially pediatric asthma, has grown steadily worse because of smog. Many out- of- state companies have very low standards of environmental protection. organiWith deregulation, New Jersey resi periodidents would be held hostage by busiHow

business interests that neglect the health of

populations even in those states they call home.

It's important for all people in New conJersey to let the Governor know we

wantour airqualitystandardsimproved andnotrelaxed evenfurther.Byprovid ing citizens with clean air, the subse quent high costs of lung- related health careandenvironmentalclean- upsdown whenIquesthe road can be reduced. Besides, it's

the right thing to do. Keep New Jersey decibeautiful and clean.

Debbie Sager Westfield

Democratic SP Council Candidates Hear About deAir Noise from SPCAAN

As the three Democratic candidates for Scotch Plains Township Council, we wish to acknowledge and thank the Scotch Plains- Fanwood Citizens Against Air Traffic Noise (SPCAAN) for recently hosting an orientation ses sion for all candidates seeking election to the local governing body.

The presentation given by this orga nization was well done and indicated a

virtuhighdegree ofpreparationandresearch

on the part of SPCAAN. This organization has labored long and hard and with considerable effec tiveness for many years to protect the Scotch Plains environment from un wanted air craft noise. When thinking of protecting the character and quality of lifeofScotchPlains wemustnotonly think of water, green spaces and proper zoning and planning, but also noise from the skies.

Franklin P. Donatelli Tarquin Jay Bromley Geri Morgan Samuel

Scotch Plains

Letters to the Editor Please See Another

Column on Page 5

Is It Best to Fund Road Improvements Through Debt or Capital Budget Funds?

Inaneffort toensurethatall streetsinWestfieldare included in the town's road improvement fund, the Public Works Committee of the Town Council is asking thefullgoverningbody toconsiderissuing$2 million in long- term debt to pay for the $5 million officials have estimated will be needed to complete the massive 10- year project.

The question of the day remains, is it best to take advantage of low interest rates by issuing new debt

Connow or is it best to wait and see if this project can be funded through the regular budget process?

infraOf the total amount of the Westfield improvement project that the Town Council is currently consider ing, $1 million will be generated from state grants with another $1.5 million coming from the municipality's annual appropriation of $150,000 as part of its capital improvement funded projects.

compreUnlike the surrounding municipalities of Scotch Plains and Fanwood, up until 1996 Westfield re quired curbs as part of all town road reconstruction

successprojects. Residents were assessed for the cost of curbs in addition to the cost for paving the shoulders ofthe roadways.Thatpolicyhas sincechangedasthe town no longer requires with curbs no longer re internaquired.

In addition, the town assumed the cost of the shoulder paving and reconstruction – thus leaving future assessments on residents at zero.

FreeholdHowever, under the old policy, a number of streets were not paved. If a street did not receive state funds and did not have curbing, the town did not pave it unless residents petitioned the Town Council and agreed to pay the assessment. Thus, the paving of a

Freenumber of streets fell through the cracks. Over the years, the town continued to pump

dif$150,000 into the annual budget to pave streets with additional funds generated through state grants. In 1998 alone,Westfieldwillspend ahalfmilliondollars on road improvements.

BothScotchPlainsand Fanwood,whicharenewer communities, use their capital improvement and op eratingbudgetsto fundroadimprovements.Depend ingonstategrants andthesizeof theroad,thenumber of streets paved each year varies. For instance, North Avenue will be the only street paved in Fanwood this

Octoyear at a cost of $116,000 to the borough.

agreeIn an effort to fully fund the $5 million estimate for Westfieldroads,Chairmanof thePublicWorksCom mittee John J. Walsh, has asked the Town Council to consider issuing the $2 million bond to make up the difference between state funding, the town's annual road improvements appropriation and the total.

TownAdministratorEdwardA. Gottkohassaidthe entirelong- termcostsfor roadimprovementscouldbe fundedwithoutissuingany furtherdebt.Heexplained that once Westfield retires the $6.5 million bond that wasissued1986,the councilcouldsimplyappropriate $600,000 as a line item within the budget for the work – the same amount as the annual payment on the remaining bond principal. The $6.5 million bond included the construction of the Westfield Memorial

busiLibrary on East Broad Street, among other projects. Thebondalsoincluded $1millionforconstruction of a parking deck opposite the Westfield Post Office

infraonCentral Avenue.Whenthebids fortheinitialphase ofthe projectcameinover budget,theTownCouncil optedto usetheallottedfunds forimprovementstothe Municipal Building and Fire Department Headquar ters on North Avenue.

Inaddition totheprincipalowed onthe$6.5million bond debt, Westfield will pay $104,000 in interest payments this year, $69,000 in 1999 and $34,000 in the year 2000. Thus, while the principal amount will remain constant, the interest will have dropped from $138,000 in 1997 to $34,000 in the final year of the bond.

MetromallinElizaWe agree with officials that the town should take advantage of the retirement of the debt to put more funds into the budget to pay for road projects. But why rush to start the debt this year and wind up

paying interest through the year 2000? Officialssaythe townneedstolook atthetotalcost ofinfrastructure improvements–includingbothroad andrecreationalfacility improvements.Iftheamount is say, $4 or $5 million, officials said a bond issue would be the more advantageous route. Also, the council could decide to dip into its surplus funds of some $9 million for these long- term improvements.

Westfield's total debt stands at $3 million — $1.3 million of which is for the library bond. Scotch Plains' total debt at the end of last year was at $14,460,931. The Township Council recently issued temporary debt of $4.4 million this year.

Bycomparison,Summithas asanoperatingbudget similar to Westfield, but only $4 million in surplus and higher debt. Scotch Plains surplus was $2.4 millionatthe endoflastyear. Westfieldappearstobe in a strong financial position compared to other towns.In fact,ifWestfieldjust useditsannualinterest of $800,000, the Town Council could achieve its long- termroadimprovement projectandmore.These funds are currently used to offset taxes in town.

Scotch Plains, on the other hand, has an aggressive plan for improvement to purchase the former Scotch PlainsZoo(a. k. a.TerryLouZoo) propertyforatown park. As part of the $4.4 million bond mentioned above, a total of $560,000 has been set aside for the purchase and creation of the park. Sunrise Assisted Living, which owns the property and plans to build a facility onthesite,has threatenedlegalactionshould the council attempt to acquire the lot through the condemnation process. Of the total, $100,000 has been included in a grant issued by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders as part of its "Project Pocket Park" program.

Also, $1.7 million of the Scotch Plains bond has been geared to upgrade the township's south side sanitary sewer system with $142,000 set aside to automate the Scotch Plains Library. In terms of road projects,ScotchPlains received$455,000inDepart ment of Transportation grants for municipal road improvements last year.

Unlike Westfield, Scotch Plains must assume debt to achieve their ultimate goals.

Meanwhile, Fanwood's total debt stands at $4,122,632. The borough will reduce that figure in 1998 by $490,000 in principal and $144,219 in interest payments on the total debt.

In addition to Scotch Plains' funds for the county's "Project Pocket Park," Westfield's budget has an item to appropriate $200,000 for the purchase and creation of a park on the former Excellent Diner site on North Avenue as part the county's grant program. Fanwood has included $250,000 in an appropriation to create a park next to the borough's Fire House on Watson Road. A portion of that amount has been gearedfor"in- kind services.""ProjectPocketPark," a dollars- for- dollar matching grant program, is the county's effort to preserve open space.

The importantthingforour electedofficialstonote is that our roads, parks and related recreational facilitiesare allassetsandneed tobemaintainedover the years. The key for officials is to develop a long range plan, like Westfield is contemplating, in order to ensure that our roads are taken care before they deteriorateandsignificantly increasetheoverallcost of projects.

We believe that it is good management policy for municipalgovernmentsto maintainastrongfinancial position. Just because a town has the money does not mean it should be spent. However, pressing needs or good opportunities require action such as in the case of Scotch Plains. In their case, stretching now seems to be in the best interests of the residents. However, this leaves them little room for other opportunities or needs until the debt is minimized.

ForWestfield,astrong foundationhasalwaysbeen the policy on a consistent basis over the generations. We support this type of fiscal responsibility.

ACCORDING TO HOYLE

Providing the English language with an eponym (a word derived from a real or imaginary person's name) is one of the bestways toachieveimmortality.Edmund Hoyle (1672- 1769) eponymical contri bution is a case in point.

In 1742 Hoyle wrote "A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist," which was the first of his several pamphlets setting forth the rules of Whist, a popular card game of the day and the forerunner of Contract Bridge. Robert F. Foster was instrumental in immortalizing Hoyle's name when his book, entitled "Foster's Hoyle," was published in 1897.

"Played According to Hoyle" remains in use as a colloquialism meaning "any action or game played in accordance with the rules." You could say, therefore, that immortality is "all in the cards." If you did, however, you'd probably Whist you hadn't. are adequate in establishing the broad

cliche. More engaging is the second ba nana sub- plot involving sarcastic Denise and the ebonically eloquent Kenny, acci dentally locked together in the upstairs bathroom for the duration.

Mr. Green provides the movie's only original moments of humor. Miss Ambrose'sself- imposedwallflowergives thefilm oneofitsfew bitsofrealthought.

But you can't even pretend to see the primal rantings of Can't Hardly Wait for any cerebral advantage. Just as you wouldn't choose Clarabelle to have a discussion about Kafka.

* * * * * Can't Hardly Wait, rated PG- 13, is a Columbia Pictures release directed by Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont and stars Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ethan Embry and Lauren Ambrose. Running time: 95 minutes.

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