WESTFIELD — Plans to allow AT&T to build a 130-foot cell-phone tower at the Westfield Conservation Center will be moving ahead now that certain legal challenges surrounding the project have been resolved.
The installation, initially awarded to the wireless carrier after a public bid in November of last year, was temporarily waylaid when a neighboring Scotch Plains resident filed suit in New Jersey Superior Court on the grounds that the project would violate local land-use law and depreciate the value of his home.
On Tuesday, however, during a regular meeting of the Westfield governing body, Mayor Shelley Brindle said the project is now back on track.
“Wireless carriers and residents alike have repeatedly cited a need to improve cellular service in the southwest section of town, specifically Lamberts Mill to Willow Grove Road and Clifton Street, inclusive of Tamaques and Jefferson Elementary Schools,” Mayor Brindle said. “These areas have been identified as having wireless service gaps, specifically in the interiors of homes and buildings.” The terms of the contract with AT&T dictate that the carrier will pay the Town of Westfield $45,000 a year with annual rent increases of 3 percent for the duration of the monopole’s use. In addition, Mayor Brindle said Tuesday, the company will be required to contribute $100,000 to the town’s Parks Improvement Fund so the community can “more expediently address long-standing issues at Houlihan/Sid Fay Fields.”
The lawsuit, Town Administrator Jim Gildea said, resulted in a settlement with the resident, of which he said, “The details are still being finalized.”
Westfield residents also should expect to see some changes to the local traffic pattern over the course of the coming weeks thanks to a town ordinance that will add several onstreet handicapped-parking spaces and two new stop signs into the mix.
The ordinance, adopted Tuesday, calls for the addition of four new accessible parking spaces — one on Cacciola Place, one on Lenox Avenue and two others on Prospect Street near Franklin Elementary School.
Stop signs also will be added to the intersections of CoolidgeAvenue and Sherman Street and CoolidgeAvenue and Stevens Avenue.
Town officials additionally announced Tuesday that a traffic light at the corner of Lamberts Mill Road and Rahway Avenue has been activated after nearly two years of communication- related delays. The signal flashed yellow for several days and is expected to be fully functional by the end of this week. The Westfield Police Department has placed message board signs in the area to alert drivers to the new light.
Local paving efforts also are underway and could pose some traffic delays now that schools are back in session, Mr. Gildea said.
“These are all small inconveniences that will ultimately result in some major improvements,” Mr. Gildea said of the upcoming road closures and potential delays.
In other town news, this year’s Sweet Sounds Music Festival will be extended with several encore performances. The free concerts are slated to take place in the outdoor community space on Quimby Street each Friday in September, weather permitting.
“The Downtown Westfield Corporation had some money left in its budget this year, so they will be bringing back four of this summer’s most popular performances for a second round,” Mr. Gildea said. “The festival has been a great success this year, so hopefully, this will give us a chance to enjoy it for a while longer.”