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A WATCHUNG COMMUNICATIONS, INC. PUBLICATION The Westfield Leader and THE TIMES of Scotch Plains - Fanwood Thursday, January 14, 1999 Page 3

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New Morning Train Service Introduced By NJ Transit

WESTFIELD – On January 11, NJ Transit added a new train during its morning peak period which departs the Plainfield Station at 8: 30 a. m., makes stops at the Netherwood, Fanwood, Westfield, Cranford and Roselle Park stations, and arrives in Newark at 9: 01 a. m.

Passengers who will continue to travel on to New York will connect with a Northeast Corridor Line train at 9: 06 a. m., and arrive in Manhattan at 9: 30 a. m.

State Transportation Commissioner and New Jersey Board Chairman James Weinstein stated, “The investments we made in upgrading the Raritan Valley Line infrastructure will now reap operational benefits.

He said the new train has been introduced “with no additional personnel costs and will be a major help to working parents, who must catch a later train after dropping children off at school or at day care facilities.”

Acting NJ Transit Executive Direc tor Stanley Rosenblum said, “The year

of the Raritan Valley Line has been about customer service. During the year, we made improvements to service and facilities for the more than 8,000 riders who use the line each day.

“This additional train is in response to requests from the Raritan Valley Rail Coalition and Westfield commuters to fill a gap in service to make our train service more convenient for commuters,” he revealed.

The new train was made possible by completion of the $33 million Hunter Connection project. The project involved realignment of the existing 5,400foot ramp linking Conrail’s Lehigh Valley Line with Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor Line.

NJ Transit trains will use the connection to gain access from the Northeast Corridor to the Raritan Valley Line. The project also included construction of a new 1,700foot passing track. The new alignment will improve operational flexibility on the line.

Coalition Looks to Continue Efforts for Better Commute

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1

Mayor Jardim serves as Liaison to both groups.

“RVLCC is a commuterbased group,” Mayor Jardim explained. “They’re the folks who are doing the commute, day in, day out. RVLCC is focusing on improving the daytoday commute until we get Raritan Direct.”

By contrast, he said, the RVRC is made up of community leaders from along the Raritan Valley Line. The group’s focus is more long term – on getting the money, planning, political support and infrastructure for building “Raritan Direct.”

“There’s a lot to be done,” said Mayor Jardim. “Both groups need to work at full tilt, together and separately, to achieve our shared goals. One year isn’t enough time to solve all the problems on the Raritan Valley Line. We’re still working for improvements. We hope NJ Transit will work with us.”

The following improvements have been made as a result of Westfield RVLCC’s efforts thus far:

· A westbound express train (5: 55 p. m. from New York, 6: 23 p. m. from Newark) – serving Westfield, Plainfield and beyond – was added to the evening schedule.

· Some schedule changes were made to better accommodate the time needed for RVL commuters to make connections at Newark Penn Station.

· The 90minute gap between westbound trains after 9 p. m. was reduced to one hour.

· The ticket window at Westfield station now accepts credit cards and ATM (Automatic Ticket Machine) cards.

· ATM (and a stamp machine) were installed at Westfield Train Station.

· NJ Transit will now give some ticket refunds at the ticket window instead of only by mail.

· A NJ Transit information window was opened in New York Penn Station. Prior to this, NJ Transit commuters seeking information had to wait on a line with tourists at the Amtrak booth.

· Some new monitors have been installed at Newark and New York Penn Stations.

· An extra midafternoon train was added to the Raritan Valley Line westbound schedule for such “holiday eves” as Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and the day before Thanksgiving.

· NJ Transit has said that in 1999, it will refurbish the interiors of the train cars used on the Raritan Valley Line.

· A new morning train – serving points east of Plainfield – has been promised for early 1999 to reduce the 52minute gap between the 8: 12 a. m.

and the 9: 04 a. m. trains leaving Westfield.

· NJ Transit has said it will launch efforts this month to establish designated smoking and nonsmoking areas on the platforms of Newark Penn Station. Currently, smoking is allowed throughout the platforms, leaving nonsmokers with no smokefree places to stand.

The RVLCC said that, in addition to the lack of direct service and sameplatform transfers, some other problems which persist are:

· The gap between the 6: 29 p. m. and the 7: 12 p. m. trains from New York (6: 55 and 7: 34 p. m. from Newark) – 43 minutes is too long to wait for a train during the shoulder of the evening rush.

· Trains don’t stop at the same spot at the station every day, so commuters don’t know where to stand – and, as a result, are constantly running after or to train doors.

· Commuters still do not get frequent, accurate train information via station and ontrain announcements, gate signs and monitors.

· Platform transfers at Newark are made more difficult by heavy stairway doors. NJ Transit should replace the doors, prop them open or adjust the hinges so the doors are easier to open.

· There is still a need for a discounted ticket option for regular commuters (such as working mothers) who take the train three or four days a week instead of five.

Parttime Tax Collector Hired by Mountainside By KIMBERLY A. BROADWELL

Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times

Mountainside Borough Council representatives met Tuesday evening for their first work session of the new year. Before items on the agenda were discussed, officials mentioned two functions which will be held this Saturday, January 16, at the L’Affaire Restaurant on Route 22 in Mountainside.

The first is a retirement dinner for Detective Steve Semancik, who has served the borough’s police force for 33 years. The other is the annual dinnerdance for the Fire Department.

Under other business, it was announced that a parttime tax collector was hired, effective January 5. Connie Ludden will be working for the borough approximately 14 hours per week.

In other news, it was announced that Police Officer Allan Attanasio has applied

for membership to the Mountainside Volunteer Fire Department. Also, Gloria Dickerson was appointed to represent the borough on the Union County Arts Council and Heritage Committee.

Finally, Mayor Robert F. Viglianti discussed an underground seepage problem that was reported on Outlook Drive West. The Mayor indicated that there might be an underground river, stream or spring that was causing the seepage and that Borough Engineer Michael Disko was presently looking into the problem.

Mayor Viglianti also indicated that a possible solution might be to put in some additional storm sewer drains. He stated that Mr. Disko will give the council a full report on his findings within the next two weeks.

Planning for Parking Deck and Jitney Service Top Westfield Mayor’s ’99 Agenda for Council

By PAUL J. PEYTON

Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times

WESTFIELD — Developing plans for a parking facility, jitney bus service and making the town’s Building and Public Works Department more customer friendly highlight Westfield’s Mayor Thomas C. Jardim’s blueprint for the Town Council in 1999.

During a special council conference meeting Tuesday night, Major Jardim, beginning his second twoyear term, said he would like the council to look into the possibility of soliciting private firms that might be interested in operating a taxi service in Westfield.

All in all, Mayor Jardim said he wants the council to be “as efficient as possible,” so that it can be “proactive” rather than “reactive” to matters which come before the town.

“I don’t want us to come to these meetings without a clear sense of where we are going to be this year” in terms of the council’s goals and objectives for 1999, Mayor Jardim explained.

Council members agreed that planning for the construction of a multitiered parking deck would be the major issue facing the governing body.

“We recognize we have a shortage of supply” of parking spaces, explained Third Ward Councilman Neil F. Sullivan, Jr., noting that the council has realized it needs to regulate the current parking system, while also adding additional spaces.

Town Administrator Edward A. Gottko indicated that the most viable locations for a deck, at this point, appear to be at North and Central Avenues, behind the Rialto Theatre on

Central Avenue, or behind The Gap store on East Broad Street.

Third Ward Councilman John J. Walsh viewed the selection of where to build a deck as the biggest task for the council, even above financing such a facility.

Second Ward Councilman James J. Gruba said the final solution for creating additional parking spaces might come from surface, or groundlevel, parking as opposed to a garage.

A consultant would be asked to provide estimates on how much it would cost to build such a facility, to operate it, and what the town could anticipate receiving in revenue generated from a deck.

“We have a lot of ideas, but we don’t have a lot of specifics,” explained Mr. Gottko.

He said the council needs to decide on the number of spaces the deck would have, as well as other pertinent information.

In terms of a jitney service, Mr. Gottko noted there that there are currently no plans for the Westfield/ Mountainside Chapter of the American Red Cross to operate a program of this kind.

He said the organization, which reportedly had been considering running a jitney service, was concerned about ridership.

Mr. Gottko noted that the Red Cross would only be interested in providing transportation for senior citizens if it did operate such a program.

If jitney service is to become a reality as a transportation mode to the downtown for commuters as well as seniors, Mayor Jardim said the council will have to fund a portion of the costs in the municipal budget to cover labor expenses.

Councilman Walsh said the governing body first needs to ensure that a jitney service is “appropriate” for Westfield before moving ahead with any specific plans.

While Mayor Jardim has proposed that a jitney bus service be operational by January 1, 2000, Councilman Sullivan said he would like such service initiated by Labor Day.

Mayor Jardim said the council may want to take a look at current restrictions imposed by the town for the operation of a private taxi service in the municipality in terms of fees charged.

“One of the nails in the last agreement (for a taxi service) was insurance costs,” explained Councilman Gruba, now in his eighth year on the governing body.

In terms of changes in the Public Works Department, officials said the department will be reorganized to focus on “front end services” the department offers, such as the processing of building permits.

Also, the processing of complaints received by the Public Works and Building Department will be computerized, with an effort made to better track and respond to such complaints.

Other areas on which Mayor Jardim has asked the council to move forward are pedestrian safety improvements, providing better programming on Westfield’s local cablevision access channel, TV36, and a renewed effort to “breathe new life” into the neighbor hood preservation program in and

around Cacciola Place and Central Avenue on the south side.

The initiative suffered a setback when the state changed the criteria for the program just as Westfield was making its application.

In terms of TV36 programming, currently organized by the school district, the Mayor indicated he favors including funds for a parttime employee in the budget to help the effort move forward.

Mayor Jardim also said he would be interested in the town starting a “Youth in Government Day” program, whereby high school students would run a council meeting by playing the roles of mayor, council members and officials. Similar programs are offered by the Union County Freeholders and the Scotch Plains Township Council.

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Copyright 1999 - The Westfield Leader and The Times of Scotch Plains-Fanwood