FOLD Candidates Forum Set
For Westfield Voters
WESTFIELD — The Westfield Area League of Women Voters will host a Candidates Forum in the Westfield Municipal Building on Thursday, October 22, at 8 p. m.
Citizens of Westfield are urged to attend and put their questions to the candidates for the Tuesday, November 3, Town Council elections. All candidates are expected to attend.
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization dedicated to informing the public on issues of public policy.
Membership is open to anyone of voting age. For program and membership information, please call (908) 6548628, or email lwv@ westfieldnj. com.
Campaign Forum ’98
Fanwood Dems Say Forum Would Have Been Informative
FANWOOD Dramatic candidates for the Fanwood Borough Council this week criticized their Republican opponents for refusing an invitation by the Westfield Area League of Women Voters to participate in a candidates forum.
Councilwoman Karen Schurtz and Kathy Mitchell, who also serves as head of the Fanwood Democratic Party, are opposing Republicans Dave Trumpp and Will Coronato for two seats on the Borough Council.
The League of Women Voters approached the candidates with an offer to sponsor a public debate before the Tuesday, November 3 election. The Democratic candidates said they “gladly accepted” the invitation to debate.
The League of Women Voters at that point decided to cancel the forum.
“We’ve attempted to keep the residents of Fanwood informed about what’s going on in the borough,” said Councilwoman Schurtz.
“A public debate about local issues would have been very informative, but our opponents don’t want to participate in a public forum.
“It’s too bad that candidates who claim to be listening to the people of
Fanwood are the ones who won’t debate,” said Ms. Mitchell. “They claim to be running for you, but instead they seem to be running from you.”
Councilwoman Schurtz was first elected to the Fanwood Borough Council in 1995. She is a member of the Fanwood Planning Board and Chairwoman of the Land Use and Historic Preservation Committee.
She is also Fire Commissioner and the council’s Senior Citizen Liaison. Councilwoman Schurtz is married and the mother of three children. She is a school teacher and a Eucharistic Minister at Immaculate Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church.
Ms. Mitchell is making her second run for a council seat. She is presently the Treasurer of the Fanwood Public Library. The candidate is a Past President of the Fanwood Recycling Association and she’s been active with the Clean Communities Committee and the Fanwood Environmental Commission.
Ms. Mitchell is a Trustee of Interfaith Council for the Homeless and is a blood drive coordinator and Social Concerns Coordinator at Heart of Mary Church. The candidate has lived in Fanwood for 44 years and is a registered nurse.
LITTLE MISS FANNY WOOD... Fanwood Democratic Borough Council candidates Kathy Mitchell, left, and incumbent Councilwoman Karen Schurtz, right, congratulate Kerry Plante, winner of the first “Little Miss Fanny Wood” Contest at the recent Fanny Wood Day celebration in Fanwood. The contest was sponsored by Enchantments, a gift shop on South Avenue in Fanwood. Tom Cusimano Advocate
For Infrastructure Review FOCUS ON INFRASTRUCTURE... Westfield Republican candidate for the Fourth Ward seat, Tom Cusimano, on the Town Council stands on the new Tuttle Parkway Bridge which connects North and South Avenues. Mr. Cusimano said he favors a comprehensive review of the town’s infrastructure.
WESTFIELD — Tom Cusimano, Republican candidate for Fourth Ward Councilman on the Westfield Town Council, said this week that he is a strong advocate for a review of the town’s infrastructures to include roads, utilities, water and sewer service, bridges, pedestrian walk ways and other structures.
“The Tuttle Parkway Bridge, a decaying and unsafe structure several years ago, has been transformed to safe and functional crossing from North Avenue to South Avenue. Under the leadership of former Mayor Bud Boothe, the necessary funds and permits were obtained to restore the roadway.
“Today, the bridge offers an alternative to the congested traffic circle joining North Avenue and South Avenue. It is important to continue improving the safety of towns resi dents,” the candidate said.
“It is through a comprehensive review of the town’s infrastructure and developing a long range plan that we can maintain, repair and improve roads, walkways, sewers and the like while working within the existing budget process. It is important to prioritize any capital improvement projects and plan for them so that they can be accomplished without any major tax increases.
“My 25 plus years of military service have taught me the importance of reviewing, planning, budgeting and carrying out major projects such as this,” stated Mr. Cusimano.
The candidate invites any resident of the Fourth Ward who has any comments, suggestions or concerns regarding any of the town’s infrastructure to contact him at (908) 6549660. Mr. Goldman Cites Initiatives
As Laws Committee Chairman
WESTFIELD Westfield Fourth Ward Councilman Lawrence A. Goldman pointed to his experience and ideas and cited recent initiatives of the Laws and Rules Committee, which he chairs, as he continued his campaign for reelection this week.
“When Tom Jardim and I were elected two years ago I requested the appointment as Chairman of the Laws and Rules Committee because I welcomed the challenge of crafting new ordinances and shepherding them through the adoption process,” Mr. Goldman said.
“I am particularly proud of the exterior property maintenance code which provides local officials with a new means to address unsightly conditions on residential and commercial properties,” he added.
“We worked very hard to develop an ordinance which balances the dual objectives of serving the rights of homeowners to have neighborhood eyesores acted upon and protecting property owners from unfair and obtrusive governmental action,” he explained.
Councilman Goldman explained that one purpose of the code is to
maintain and enhance the quality of residential neighborhoods.
“With that goal in mind, I also helped to draft a shade tree ordinance, which was adopted by the Town Council,” he noted.
Mr. Goldman also noted that when former Councilmen Kenneth L. MacRitchie and Donnell Carr proposed the creation of a housing commission to promote the rehabilitation of residential housing, he made the proposal a priority action item for the Laws and Rules Committee.
“I regarded the proposal as a means of assisting elderly or incapacitated residents in repairing deteriorating conditions on their homes. The Commission would be comprised of volunteers whose objective will be to seek out available grant money and make rehabilitation programs known to qualifying residents,” Councilman Goldman stated.
The full Council indicated its support for such a Commission at a recent conference session and the process of preparing the text of an ordinance is underway. Councilman Goldman also called up the Town Council to consider adopting a requirement that sales of multifamily residential properties be subject to the prior receipt of a certificate of occupancy from the town.
“This would provide some degree of protection to tenants who are living in apartments which have not been kept up to code by their owners,” he noted.
Mr. Goldman added that he does not take full credit for any of the foregoing programs.
“Discussion, compromise and respect of and for one’s colleagues are the hallmarks of getting things accomplished on the Town Council. Nine individuals will always have ideas that differ, but if a proposal is basically a good one, with a little tenacity a consensus can be reached,” he stated.
MAINTENANCE CODE AT WORK... The property pictured above, located in Westfield’s Fourth Ward, had been uninhabited and unattended to for many months when a neighbor brought it to Fourth Ward Councilman Lawrence A. Goldman’s attention. He suggested that a petition be filed by the neighboring owners with the town under the new exterior property maintenance code. While the matter is pending, and since the picture was taken, the town has performed some basic cleanup work on the lawn and foliage, providing some degree of relief from a neighborhood eyesore.
Scotch Plains Democrats Support Revitalization
SCOTCH PLAINS “The revitalization of downtown Scotch Plains has languished for too many years,” asserted Democratic Township Council candidates Franklin P. Donatelli, Tarquin Jay Bromley, and Geri Morgan Samuel in their weekly press release.
Mr. Donatelli stated that, “As a lifelong resident of Scotch Plains I understand the important role that a healthy shopping district can contribute to the overall economic health of the entire community.”
“Considering that downtown revitalization has been studied and restudied by the council for more than 15 years and countless numbers of recommendations suggested, one must ask,” stated Mr. Donatelli. “why hasn’t the council done more? It’s clear that a new vision is needed on the council if downtown revitalization is to get off the ground,” he said.
Mr. Bromley noted that, “Ample offstreet parking is the bottom line to encourage people to shop in a business district. Too often Scotch Plains government has moved in the opposite direction. The municipal government has eroded the number of valuable shopper parking spaces by granting variances that allow residential apartment units to be built above the retail shops.
“The township government’s effort to change the local zoning code itself to permit still more apartments over retail shops was another bad planning idea. Another issue is the disgraceful appearance of Route 22 as it runs through Scotch Plains.”
“You can’t blame motorists from gaining a negative perception of what the downtown must look like when the gateway to the community is such an eyesore,” remarked Mr. Bromley. “Good planning and zoning enforcement can lead to the cleaning up of the appearance of Route 22.”
Ms. Morgan Samuel added that, “The township government keeps missing many opportunities well within its grasp to draw shoppers to the downtown area. Building senior citizen housing miles away from the downtown area on the deep south side of Scotch Plains is indicative of the poor planning that the council has practiced over the years. Those seniors find it easier to shop in Clark and Fanwood than to travel to the center of Scotch Plains.”
“Downtown sales days could be bolstered by considering ‘pedestrian
mall days, ’” suggested Mrs. Samuel. “Communities about the state have found it advantageous to close off the main downtown thoroughfare for limited periods of time to create outdoor, malllike shopping. Local building codes can promote themes for front and rear facade improvements that would create a more aesthetically appealing central business district,” she explained.
The candidates emphasized in a joint statement that, “There’s still the need to remove the spectre of potential devastation of a flood. We have provided the leadership in calling attention to potential horrific damage that could befall the north side of Scotch Plains and the downtown business district itself if the Blue Brook over flows its banks an sends flood waters surging downstream into Scotch Plains as it has done three times since 1971.”
The candidates also explained that, “The plan to construct a 116unit townhouse project on a 7.7 acre tract of land on the north side of Route 22 in the flood way of the Blue Brook is not in the best interests of downtown Scotch Plains. Moving the business district’s development along requires a level of responsibility and accountability on the part of the council.”
LET’S CLEANUP ROUTE 22... Franklin P. Donatelli, Tarquin Jay Bromley and Geri Morgan Samuel, Scotch Plains Democratic Township Council candidates, standing along Route 22, have announced specific ideas for promoting downtown vitalization. Among them is a cleaning up the high way.
Councilman Walsh Notes Need To Fix County Parks, Fields Without Cost to Taxpayers
WESTFIELD — Westfield Third Ward Councilman John J. Walsh spoke this week about the need for action on the town’s parks and fields to overcome years of neglect.
“Everyone has been talking about maintaining the parks and fields but I am doing something about it,” stated Councilman Walsh, who is seeking reelection to a second term.
Last year, Mr. Walsh, as the council’s liaison to the Westfield Recreation Commission, asked the commission to come up with a proposal to create a separate Parks and Fields Maintenance Department whose sole function would be the upkeep of the town’s parks and fields.
“I was grateful for the prompt response of the Recreation Department which came up with a detailed, workable proposal. Unfortunately, the estimated cost would have been a terrible strain on the budget and I knew we had to figure out a way to do it without the general taxpayer bearing any of the cost, if possible,” Mr. Walsh stated.
Mr. Walsh suggested to the Recreation Commission that a Plan be devised to create a user fee program, such that the organized teams who obtain permits for the use of the fields paid a fixed fee which could be financed with minor contributions in team registrations.
He also suggested that the money from the permit fee could be used to partially fund the Parks Department.
The candidate noted that a transfer from the Public Works Department might provide the rest of the necessary funding.
“I spoke to a number of people in town about this idea and it received a warm response. People with children playing in organized sports thought it was worth a small addition to registration fees to put the fields in better condition,” Mr. Walsh noted.
The Councilman also stated that it was “a winwin situation,” because the residents obtained better services with no need to increase taxes.
Councilman Walsh also noted that the condition of the parks and fields has been the source of complaints by a significant number of the residents. He has been asked repeatedly by residents why the town cannot do a better job.
Prominent examples of the problems include the baseball fields at Tamaques Park and the soccer field at Sycamore Street.
“Our fields are heavily used which aggravates their neglect. I am certain that the many organizations who use the fields will support this proposal as one that will enhance the safety and wellbeing of our children and adult players,” observed Mr. Walsh.
The Recreation Department is studying the user fee concept and Councilman Walsh said he looks forward to a report from the Department to the Recreation Commission in the near future.
Republican Freeholder Slate Responds to Latest Rumor
Juan Fernandez, Andrew MacDonald and George Gore, Republican candidates for the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders, reacted last week to a published newspaper report on a “rumor” that Union County Manager Michael J. Lapolla, working without a contract, would be leaving his position as the county’s chief administrator to become a judge.
Mr. Lapolla said the judge rumors were untrue. While he said he is “working at the pleasure of the Board of Chosen Freeholders,” it is his intention to seek a contract from the board next year.
The County Manager repeated an earlier statement that he “categorically” denies that he is seeking a judgeship.
Mr. Fernandez responded to the published story in noting, “History repeats itself.”
“A little over a year ago,” Mr. Fernandez said, “there was a rumor floating around the county that had then Democrat Freeholder Carol Cohen stepping down after the November elections to be appointed County Counsel. The three Republicans on the board at the time brought the rumor to light and stated that by waiting until after the election, the Democrats could appoint Mrs. Cohen’s replacement without going through the democratic process of allowing the voters to choose her successor.”
“Ms. Cohen denied the rumor,” Mr. MacDonald said. “She said the job had not been offered to her.”
A published news account reported that, “Scutari denied the Democrats are scheming to give Cohen the job.”
Mr. MacDonald also stated that then Democrat Freeholder Chairwoman Linda d. Stender claimed the Republicans were trying to create a political issue and that Daniel P. Sullivan, currently Freeholder Chairman, called the Republicans’ claims “purely political” and an “assump tion.”
Mr. Gore pointed out the hypocrisy of the Democrats, remarking, “Five months later, Carol Cohen resigned as Freeholder and (Freeholders) Sullivan, Stender, Scutari and the rest of the Democrats on the board appointed her County Counsel!”
“If this pattern continues, history will repeat itself,” Freeholder Fernandez said. “A new Deputy County manager was appointed, along with additional staff, even though the county, under Republican leadership, eliminated the position.”
“It seems that the Democrats are not only playing musical chairs with county tax dollars, they are now adding people like the Deputy County Manager to the payroll pending their new appointments to high paying positions,” Freeholder Fernandez added.
Mr. MacDonald stated, “When Ann Baran was the County Manager, there was no Deputy County Manager. One month after (Mr.) Lapolla was appointed, he handed out political patronage without regard to necessity or cost to the taxpayer.”
Mr. Lapolla stated, “I don’t want why they (the Republicans) keep spreading rumors.”
Mr. Gore responded that, “For reasons only they can explain, the Democrats insist on using ‘smoke and mirrors’ when addressing their inappropriate actions. Unfortunately, the Democrats on the Board of Freeholders never have to worry about anyone objecting to their questionable agendas because they have unanimous, 90 control.”
“At the Union County Administration Building, there has been a pattern of inappropriate behavior, fueled by an arrogance of power and disrespect for the people who place their trust in elected officials to put the welfare of the people ahead of personal, partydrive, political agendas,” they said in a joint statement.
Candidates’ Night Canceled in Scotch Plains
The Westfield Area League of Women Voters has announced with regret that it has canceled its planned Candidates Forum which had been scheduled for Wednesday, October 14, at 8 p. m. in Scotch Plains.
“The Republican and Democratic parties could not agree on whether to have oral or written questions,” explained a League spokeswoman.
“League of Women Voters policy states that we can’t conduct a debate with only one party in attendance,” she added.
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization dedicated to informing the public on issues of public policy. Membership is open to anyone of voting age.
For program and membership information, please call (908) 6548628, or Email the league at lwv@ westfieldnj. com.