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Haas Supports Moving Stoplight; Resident Declares War on Mayor

Town Council's lone Democrat changes to supporting moving controversial stoplight's movement to intersection.

Councilman Dave Haas became the first Town Council member to publicly support the potential moving of the pedestrian activated stoplight on Central Avenue near the intersection with Clover Street.

Haas made his announcement during an emotionally charged meeting Tuesday night that saw one stoplight moving advocate declare war on Mayor Andy Skibitsky. Haas, who voted for the policies which led to the light’s creation, said that he cannot support the light’s current placement until he receives answers from engineering experts on safety of the midblock location.

“Now I am saying that I believe, that unless I hear from an engineer, that the best location for the light is at the corner,” Haas said.

The pedestrian activated light, placed as part of an overall project to improve the safety along the Central Avenue corridor, has been the focus of resident opposition since September. Central Avenue resident Adina Enculescu, who has the light on her front lawn, and her neighbor, Maria Carluccio, have been at Council meetings for 10 months for the light to be moved 150 feet to the intersection with Clover Street. Skibitsky and Council members have declined to move the light saying that they are awaiting data from a study of the light. The data is not due back to the town government until later in the summer or the early fall. The stoplight debate has led to several heated Council meetings, including one in the spring which pitted former Councilman Sal Caruana and Carluccio in a that spilled into the hallway.

Haas, who represents the third ward which includes the traffic light, noted that he has asked for the town’s traffic safety consultant, Gordon Meth, or for county traffic engineers to answer questions he has posed regarding the placement of the light. Haas, the Council’s lone Democrat, has not received answers to written questions he submitted earlier this year to Union County officials regarding the light’s placement. Central Avenue is a county road and county public works staff approved the final placement of the light on Enculescu’s front lawn.

Skibitsky voiced opposition to Haas’ comments, saying that the midblock location was the safest location for the light, based on all of the information currently provided to the Council. Skibitsky, who reminded Haas that he had voted for the entire project including the final placement of the light, said the information shows that a placement at the intersection with Clover would lead to potentially more accidents along with the need for a full stop light, instead of the pedestrian activated HAWK signal currently in place.

“I’m not going to move the light because we’re under flack to a less safe location,” Skibitsky said.

Skibitsky has declined having Meth speak at a meeting, saying that the engineer has addressed numerous meetings on the subject over the past several years. Several months ago, Haas and Councilwoman Vicki Kimmins the possibility of bringing Meth into a meeting. Skibitsky quickly quashed the idea at that meeting.

Skibitsky’s comments about the intersection being a less safe location drew a response from Enculescu, who was sitting in the audience.

“That’s not true,” she said.

Enculescu and Carluccio have said that the current location is less safe, saying that there have been frequent accidents and near accidents at the light. They have argued that on several occasions pedestrians crossing at the light have almost been hit by cars who have gone through the light.

With Enculescu and Carluccio claiming the decision to place the light on Enculescu’s front lawn was done in secret and they did not receive notification from the town, Haas defended the town’s actions. During his speech, Haas described the process as “open and transparent.”

Haas’ remarks followed the latest speeches from Enculescu and Carluccio, who have dominated Town Council meetings since September in advocating to remove the light. Both stuck to past talking points, noting the safety aspect of the light and questioning Skibitsky and the Council over the light’s placement. In a departure from , Skibitsky briefly engaged Carlucccio, saying that the data is still being collected and an analysis has not been completed.

Carluccio said that she believes she is now at “war” with Skibitsky, something the mayor quickly denied.

“We’re not at war,” Skibitsky said.

Carluccio said that she has been receiving anonymous postcards in the mail that she said that supported her and Enculescu. She also repeated several new cases where she said pedestrians were almost killed while crossing the street while using the light. She said she witnessed a couple almost hit by a car and that she recently helped a child cross the street out of fear the child would be hit by a car going through the activated light.

Carluccio addressed recent safety markings placed on the roadway.

“You’ve ruined my neighborhood,” she said. “I was duped seven years ago into buying a house on Central Avenue. Because it looked so beautiful. Now it looks like the landing pad for the Starship Enterprise.”

Carluccio also directly addressed what she believes Skibitsky’s actions have done to the neighborhood.

“This is our neighborhood you’ve ruined, ours, not yours,” she said.

Skibitsky lives close to the light in the Manor Park neighborhood and is a former third ward councilman. The mayor has been advocating for safety upgrades to the Central Avenue corridor since his tenure as a councilman.

Enculescu used her 10-minute address to cite what she said has been damage to her quality of life due to the light’s placement on her lawn.

“I see my property destroyed, my driveway destroyed,” she said. “I see in my house a red light like I am in the red light district of Amsterdam. I see it in all rooms. This is why I am not stopping until I get it moved to where it belongs. Republicans I want this moved.”

Enculescu said she has been receiving comments of support from residents in the neighborhood. She also noted that she believes that former Councilman Mark Ciarrocca, who was a proponent of the light’s location before his to become a , was lying regarding his son, Jack’s, use of the light. Ciarrocca said that Jack, a student at , uses the light to cross Central Avenue to get to school. Ciarrocca lives near the light’s location.

“Mark Ciarrocca’s son is a student at Edison and not ,” Enculescu said. “His son does not cross at the crosswalk. He could care less about the safety at this time.”

Enculescu did not offer evidence on whether or not Jack Ciarrocca uses the pedestrian activated light or another stoplight to cross Central. Skibitsky, a close friend of the Ciarrocca family, vouched that Jack Ciarrocca uses the pedestrian activated light to cross Central to reach the Rahway Avenue intermediate school.

When Skibitsky asked Town Administrator Jim Gildea to respond to a question from Enculescu about the data currently being collected about the light, Enculescu dismissed the answer.

“Mr. Gildea doesn’t know anything,” she said.

Enculescu later questioned Gildea directly.

“Mr. Gildea what did you do with my driveway?” she said.

“I did not do anything to your driveway,” Gildea responded.

Boulevard resident Joan Sanborn joined Carluccio and Enculescu at the podium advocating for the moving of the light for the second time. Sanborn said since her first appearance before the Council she has received an outpouring of public support.

“Everyone thinks it’s a bad idea,” she said. “People stop by my house and say thank you. I had no idea that people were so interested in this and thinking it was a bad idea. Move this light to Clover where it belongs or get rid of it.”

Sanborn questioned if there is a fine structure in place for drivers who ignore the directions of the crossing guard who is also at the intersection during school hours. The guard was put in place after Carluccio and Enculescu started advocating against the light. She said if fines are in place she would like them raised to encourage drivers to follow the crossing guard’s directions. She proposed fines ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.

Under state law, crossing guards cannot direct traffic and are only empowered to stop traffic to let a pedestrian cross. Crossing guards also are prohibited by law from ticketing drivers.

Independent Third Ward Town Council candidate Greg Kasko, an ally of Carluccio and Enculescu, spoke praising Haas and questioning Skibitsky over the data collection. Kasko, who stressed he supports having a light on that part of Central Avenue but would like the light moved to the intersection with Clover, said he would like to know when the data was being collected.

Kasko is challenging Republican Councilman Mark LoGrippo and Democrat Matt Sontz for the seat.

Skibitsky stressed the data was collected before the school year ended in June, a notion that Kasko questioned, saying he thought the data was being collected in the summer months. Kasko said that any data collected over the summer would be faulty since it would not include the high pedestrian crossing period.

Skibitsky defended the placement of the light.

“It would be less safe for children, that not seem to both you,” Skibitsky said of the move to the corner.

Kasko said that the HAWK light could be moved to the corner, citing a report he said he read saying that an intersection installment of the HAWK light in Tucson, Ariz. has shown a 97-percent compliance rate.

Kasko stressed he is in favor of having a light.

“I am against the current location of this light,” he said. “A light is needed on the Central Avenue corridor to protect our children and our residents.”

Walter Korfmacher July 13, 2011 at 12:20 PM
I have used the light on several occasions to cross Central. I have seen cars speed through the light after it turns red. I have to wait until the cars stop in order to cross safely.
JerseyGirl3624 July 13, 2011 at 12:47 PM
Move the light already; we are spending too much time on this issue. There are more important issues to be addressed like our extremely high property taxes.
Ed Muskie July 13, 2011 at 01:09 PM
Bravo Mr. Haas- Hope you or Mrs. Kimmins or Mr. Loughlin become Mayor one day - The Council meetings have become a circus like atmosphere. Get rid of the stupid light already and move on with more important topics. Things seemed much smoother when Tom Jardim ran things...just sayin...
John Mancini July 13, 2011 at 01:47 PM
Adrina & Maria , there r a lot of people behind U !!! Clap,clap,clap to Dave Haas!!! The engineer who said this light belongs here, is he the same engineer who built 6 speed humps all over ward 2 , or is he the same guy who built the "bump out" on Benson? Move the stupid light , oh by the way the neighbors on Benson had that bump out removed. Ladies U may need to know the right people to get this corrected.
General Petraeus July 13, 2011 at 01:54 PM
I will volunteer to lead the War. Looking for soldiers that have experience with traffic lights.
Sally McBride July 13, 2011 at 04:16 PM
then we should put a gate with flashing lights a a big horn so that it is safe for the kids
NR9 July 13, 2011 at 04:58 PM
@Sally McBride - They just need to move the light a few feet north to the intersection, where it should have been installed in the first place. Intersections are where people expect to see traffic lights. Your gate and big horn idea is a little extreme.
Scott Zilberberg July 14, 2011 at 03:25 AM
It seems to me, that the traffic pattern plans were held upside down after the traffic study was completed. Everything concerning the Central Ave corridor, especially at the intersection of South Ave. and Central Ave., has caused havoc in traffic flow and has become more dangerous than it was. Traffic on South Ave Westbound usually backs up all the way to Garwood at multiple times during the day. I really wish that the traffic pattern that was created would be assessed and corrected, before someone gets hurt.
Janet Silver July 14, 2011 at 04:56 PM
I completely agree with Scott's comments regarding South and Central Avenue. Since the "improvements" Central Avenue traffic blocks traffic onto Cacciola Place and onto/off off New Street. Its made more dangerous since people cannot turn onto or from the side streets when they have the light. Thumbs down on the traffic consultants & projects which detract from safety.
maxxkelleyy July 14, 2011 at 05:05 PM
I attended every metting held at the municipal building that related to the Central Ave and Clover St issue. At the first discussions it was sugested that everyone who attended signed a sheet, and if they had one, included their email adress or phone number. I was notified by email prior to each meeting (and there were several). At the LAST public meeting a agreement was reached by the majority that a pedistrian actived traffic light was to be installed at the INTERSECTION OF CENTRAL AND CLOVER. Somehow, after that LAST public meeting, someone backdoored the issue and changed the placement of the light to it's current location. I guess the Westfield Town Council didn't feel it was important to notify us about this "last minute change". If I would have know that this light was going to be placed in front of someone's home I would have never voted for it. Westfield Town Council, please admit your mistake and place the pedistrian actived light where you promised it was going to be placed.
maxxkelleyy July 14, 2011 at 05:24 PM
It's a death trap waiting to happen. The town Council has been told on numerous occasions but all they do is install additional signage, line stripping and pictures in the road. The person I really feel sorry for is Ms. Enclescu. This poor woman has had her life turned inside out by this town. I under stand that Councilwomen Nyland went through a process to have a tree removed from a resident's driveway because it presented a dangerous condition to the homeowner when the were exiting their driveway. What about the dangerous condition that the Town of Westfield has now imposed upon Ms. Enclescu. She now has to manuver around (1) a large oversized traffic light post, (2) a cross walk light post and (3) a large 5 foot tall black box that houses all the electrical components. COUNCIL - WHAT WERE YOU THINKING !!! Each and everyone of you (except for Councilman Hass) should resign.
Jay Stevens July 14, 2011 at 05:44 PM
@maxxkelleyy she has to "manuver around" all of that?? None of it is in the street. If she cannot pull out of her driveway without hitting signs then maybe her driving capablities should be brought into question. My son uses this light to go to Jefferson for playground camp every morning and there has never been an issue. It works. These ladies are only upset because they think their property value has decreased. They are being selfish at the expense of not only the kids who cross there but of the taxpayers who would like the Council to focus on other issues besides this.
Jay Stevens July 14, 2011 at 05:47 PM
South Avenue traffic is definitely not affected by this crosswalk. It's like three miles away. But I do agree the intersection of South and Central is a mess, but it has always been in the 15 years I've lived here.
NR9 July 14, 2011 at 05:57 PM
@Jay Stevens. I agree that Mrs C and Mrs E have focused a lot of energy on the presumed decline in value of their homes. If putting up the walkway/light where it is now is making everyone safer, then I agree that Mrs C and Mrs E must simply deal with it. It wouldn't be "fair" to them but, like the saying goes, "life isn't fair." However, the real question that remains unanswered is why the Town Council chose that location as opposed to the location that MANY (!!!!!) Westfield residents (including many who have made comments on Patch) think would be SAFEST for all, which is a few feet to the north at the Clover intersection. The Town Council and Mayor Skibitsky have not been able to backup their reasoning for choosing this ridiculous mid-block location despite the Clover intersection, a few feet to the north, having been recommended by the traffic consultant hired by the town to perform the study.
Jay Stevens July 14, 2011 at 06:21 PM
If it ain't broke don't fix it. I understand how you don't think it is the BEST location but it is still accomplishing the same goal as if it were on the corner. It is safe and that is all that matters. I can think of 1,000 better places for my taxpayer money to go than moving this crosswalk fifteen feet.
JR13 July 14, 2011 at 08:42 PM
@Jay Stevens Totally agree! Carluccio and Enculescu need to stop being so selfish and let the Mayor and Council get back to work on issues that really matter! The light is fine where it is!
Steven Lee July 15, 2011 at 03:49 AM
The pedestrian controlled traffic light is still working very well exactly where it is located. My family and I, as well as our neighbors on both sides of Central continue to use the light to safely cross Central Avenue. The Mayor is correct, that the fact that you do not have vehicles directly turning in to the crosswalk is a safety benefit. The signal and sidewalk that children and adults are now using to safely cross Central are on County land, adjacent to a County Highway on which approximately 18,000 cars and trucks can pass during the course of a day, not anyones private property. The pedestrian controlled traffic light is working fine where it is and it should stay where it is currently located. Steven Lee
Lee Wang July 15, 2011 at 10:54 AM
That sounds like it was paid for and endorsed by Skibitsky for Mayor 2013. The light was supposed to be at the corner. Thats what we were all told at the meetings several years ago.
aclarke3 July 15, 2011 at 06:33 PM
Close Central Avenue from South Ave. to the Clark border and make it accessible only to bicycles and pedestrians.
ANS July 20, 2011 at 06:09 PM
I was watching the meeting on TV36 and I was really dismayed by the Mayors dismissive and extremely rude attitude. Even if he does not agree he has a civic duty to address the concerns of the townspeople in a fair and non- judgmental way, however he appeared to not even be listening to the concerns of the residents and even rudely reminding them of their time limit and cutting them off abruptly when there time was up. Very unbecoming IMO.
harry December 26, 2011 at 09:36 PM
Iya think thata the light where it is, isa no too good. Maybe inastead we coulda move this a lighta ... say maybe a fewa feeta to a more a bettera place or maybe insteada ofa that we makea the offer no cana refuse, yes this mighta work. Maybe this would a solva all this nonsensea and we cana return to makea the money the olda fashioned way. ;)
karen egert April 02, 2013 at 04:03 AM
Well it's seems that Mayor Skibitsky hasn't changed one bit . Since I have been coming to the Town Council meetings I have seen him being rude and dismissive to residents and he's been rude and dismissive to me . He does not deserve to be our Mayor . David Haas has my vote this time around !!
Aman77 April 02, 2013 at 01:04 PM
Well Karen, if you're as effective an advocate for Haas as you are for gun crontrol I think your current mayor has nothing to worry about with you on the other side!

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