Public Voices Concerns About Street Cleaning and Safety at Council Meeting
Citizens raised concerns about brush collection and the stoplight at Central Avenue.
The Town Council meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 29 covered topics old and new.
The hour-long session began with a presentation by Town Administrator Jim Gildea in which he acknowledged Department of Public Works Superintendent Claude Shaffer's recent recognition by the New Jersey chapter of the American Public Works Association as 'Director and Superintendent of the Year for 2011' for his 25-plus years of service.
Shaffer thanked his wife, who accompanied him to the meeting, and said that she often joked that with the long hours he kept he was "like a doctor."
Gildea said while the job is one of the most important in the community, it is often the most thankless. What made the award, presented on Nov. 17, even more memorable was the presence of former Westfield Town Administrator Ed Gottko, who had known Shaffer during their shared tenure, who said a few words at the ceremony.
Following Gildea's presentation, Mary Robinson, executive director of Imagine, A Center for Coping with Loss, slated to open in Westfield in spring 2012, spoke.
Robinson said the organization's mission is to provide grief support for families who are coping with loss, death and grief. She then thanked the Thomas Glasser Foundation for their support in recognizing the enormous need for the center and said that it will provide free-of-charge programs to children ages three through 18 and those 18 through their late 20s, as well as parents.
She said the organization is seeking space, funding and volunteers. Those interested in donating or being a part of the center can visit the group's website, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 908-334-5723.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Pamela Orbach of Embree Crescent addressed the Council and expressed concern over the condition of many streets in town. Orbach said there should be set guidelines and priorities in place for clearing areas in school zones ahead of other lesser-traveled streets following storms.
Orbach also questioned why cul-de-sacs and Stanley Oval were cleared ahead of other areas and said she had been told it was at the request of public officials. Gildea later addressed Orbach's comments and said that "areas are not receiving special treatment" and that crews were pulled off certain areas and sent to other parts of town because of milling and paving.
Gildea also asked residents to remember that brush and leaves cannot be co-mingled and stated that crews are proceeding with the brush collection and that the leaf crews are following.
Maria Carluccio, a proponent of having the pedestrian activated stoplight on Central Avenue moved, spoke about a recent incident she witnessed on Central Avenue that she believes was caused by the presence of the traffic light. Carluccio said a car "slammed" into the curb, mistakenly believing a street was there, and was stopped by the Belgian block.
"I was shocked," Carluccio said. "You guys should all be shocked, too."
Carluccio said following the meeting, that in the past 14 months she has not missed a single meeting and, as much as she doesn't enjoy attending, she will continue to voice her opinions.
Greg Kasko also addressed the Council on the issue of the light and distributed copies of an accident report, the veracity of which he questioned, specifically the number of feet from the intersection at which it occurred and the cause of the accident, which was reported to be "following too closely."
Kasko then asked if a summons had been issued to the driver for this offense to which the Council didn't have an answer.
Kasko also had a brief but heated exchange with Mayor Andy Skibitsky regarding the amount of accidents that have occurred on Central Avenue since the stoplight's placement. Kasko pointed out that four accidents have occurred within a six-month period, while Skibitsky cited statistics from previous years to assert that that number was not out of line with other years.
"You don't need to be a rocket scientist to know that there's something wrong with this crosswalk," Kasko said. "The issue needs to be addressed."
Regarding the copy of the accident report Kasko questioned, Skibitsky said, "One accident doesn't mean a thing. Accidents happen all day long."