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Stoplight Argument Spills Out of Meeting Into Hallway

Former councilman and stoplight removal advocate continue argument in Municipal Building hallway following meeting.

The debate over the Central Avenue stoplight devolved into a shouting match between one of two advocates to remove the light and a former councilman during Tuesday’s Town Council meeting and in the hallway following the meeting.

addressed the Council during the meeting to defend Mayor Andy Skibitsky and Council members over the placement of the pedestrian activated traffic light on the Central Avenue property of Adina Enclescu, just in from the intersection with Clover. Enclescu and neighbor Maria Carluccio have been advocating for the removal of the light from Enclescu’s lawn at Town Council meetings since September. 

“Every sign is on someone’s property. Every light is on someone’s property. Every speed bump is in front of someone’s house,” said Caruana in an address that was aimed at Carluccio and Enclescu during the public comment portion of the meeting. “Those decisions are made for the collective good of the community. When you balance all of the interests, we are trying to improve public safety. No one is trying to devalue anyone’s property."

Caruana, who voted for the placement of the light before his retirement from the Council at the end of 2009, addressed past traffic safety controversies from his seven-year tenure as a first ward councilman. These included public comments on the speed bumps placed on Benson Place and Gallows Hill Road, along with other traffic issues.

“This is not the only traffic improvement in the history of Westfield that’s impacted a local citizen,” he said.

Caruana addressed part of his comments to comments made by Enclescu and Carluccio earlier in the meeting about the impact of the light on Carluccio’s property value. Carluccio told the Council earlier in the evening that she had brought in three realtors to review Enclescu's property and ask what the impact of the light’s placement on her front lawn would be.

“They all said the same thing, that her buyer pool has been diminished considerably and the value of her home went down,” Carluccio said without identifying the names of the realtors.

Caruana jumped on this comment during his address to the Council.

“What this argument is about, is not about safety,” he said. “Realtors don’t come to talk about safety. It’s about property values. This is an argument about property values. One person’s property value.”

After telling Carluccio and Enclescu that Skibitsky and Council members have answered questions from the pair on past occasions, Caruana circled back to the property values argument. Earlier this year, Skibitsky told the pair during a Council meeting that he and Council members would not be answering further questions at meetings, saying that all questions had been answered.

“Let’s not make a mistake about what this is about,” he said. “This is an argument about my house, my property values, my neighbor’s property values.”

Caruana also said that he does not equate the quality of life issues being discussed by Carluccio and Enclescu with the quality of life issues raised by south side residents over the train whistles. This issue led to the town’s establishment of a quiet zone around the Rahway Avenue at grade railroad crossing.

Caruana’s characterization of the pair as “bullies” drew a response from Carluccio, who started debating Caruana from the audience. Caruana said he was referencing past statements by them at meetings, and the possibility that Carluccio had called Councilwoman Joann Neylan “crazy” earlier in the meeting.

During her earlier remarks, Carluccio referenced a letter to the editor in the Westfield Leader regarding work Neylan had done with a constituent in the second ward. During her remarks, Carluccio said a word that has been said by multiple attendees to be either “crazy” or “praising” before saying “Mrs. Neylan.” Neylan had taken offense at the characterization of being called “crazy” by Carluccio, at one point interrupting Carluccio during her remarks to ask the audience.

“Did anyone hear it?” Neylan said.

“Did you call me crazy?” Neylan asked a few seconds later.

Several members of the audience responded that they heard the word “crazy” used. Carluccio insists that she used the word “praising.”

During Caruana’s remarks, Enclescu approached the rail separating the Council from the audience and said she had the letter to the editor Carluccio was referencing. Skibitsky asked Enclescu to sit down.

Carluccio started showing a picture of an April car accident at the stop light to Caruana during his remarks and commenting from the audience about the bullying comments.

“You have some nerve,” Carluccio said.

“I’m just getting started,” Caruana said in response.

“You’re out of order. Please sit down, you’re out of order,” Skibitsky said to Carluccio.

Skibitsky also permitted Caruana additional time over the 10 minutes allocated to speakers, saying it was from the interruption from the audience. During previous meetings, Skibitsky has been consistent in reminding Carluccio and Enclescu of the time limit.

“She can come here until hell freezes over and say whatever she likes,” Caruana said. “My point is, the manner in which she says it and what is implying of the character and integrity of the individuals on this Council is outrageous. If this occurred in a school, it would be menacing, threatening, bullying and it would be dealt with.”

Following the meeting, Caruana was being interviewed by Westfield Leader reporter Lauren Barr in the hallway separating the Council chamber from the Recreation Department and court office. Carluccio came up the two to address Caruana, showing him a photo of the April accident and saying that is part of why she is working on the removal of the light.

“It’s all about safety sir,” she said. “This has nothing to do with my property values. I am here for my neighbor.”

Carluccio also addressed Caruana’s comments during the Council meeting about her making comments about the character of the Council members, saying she has not done that. Caruana did not specify the comments he believes that Carluccio has made at past meetings. During past meetings, Carluccio has accused the Council of “” Enclescu’s life and said the Council is “.”

Carluccio told Caruana in the hallway that he did not like her message and her for delivering her message.

“I don’t like how you talk to me,” Caruana said. “I don’t like how you talk to me.”

“Who are you God?” Carluccio said in response. “You don’t like the way I talk to you.”

“You are a fraud. You are a bully. You are out of control,” Caruana said.

“What am I a fraud about? What am I a bully about?” Carluccio said.

“You are threatening people,” Caruana said.

“Who did I threaten,” Carluccio said.

“Your manner is threatening,” Caruana said.

“How is my manner threatening,” Carluccio said, before saying that she believed that Caruana was threatening her.

It was unclear if the exchange related to Carluccio’s comment during the Council meeting that she believes she could face retaliation for speaking out on the light. She told the Council that she makes sure to drive under the speed limit in Westfield to avoid being pulled over.

The heated exchange between the two brought a small crowd to watch in the hallway, including Enclescu, who sought to have Carluccio leave the hallway. A police officer who was in the meeting stood in the hallway, including moving to near the exchange. An unidentified person with a video camera started filming the scene from an open door to the parking before being asked to stop by a police officer. The individual could be seen continuing to film through the closed door.

Skibitsky started watching part of the scene from the Municipal Building’s rotunda. His presence caused the police officer to move to the mayor’s side. After Caruana left the exchange with Carluccio to answer a question from Barr, Carluccio addressed Skibitsky.

“When are you going to admit what you did to this woman is horrible?” Carluccio said.

Skibitsky turned and started walking away from Carluccio and towards his private office.

“If it was your house that light wouldn’t be there,” Carluccio said. “If it was someone you knew or cared about that light would not be there.”

Gregory Kasko May 27, 2011 at 02:52 AM
Jay, I didn't say you couldn't argue anything. As a 38 year resident I can tell you that the Westfield Police Department is staffed with officers that would never put the lives of Westfield citizens in danger. The officer that you claim I failed to back up, had backup on the night in question. In fact, it was btoadcast over the radio that another patrol unit was going to back the other officer up. When an administration can't get complaints on an officer from the outside (citizens) they will generate them from within to try and get rid of them. Former chief Barney Tracy and Town Administrator Jim Gildea tried their best to fire me as did current police chief Parizeau and Captain Wayman. They are mired in their own problems now with ongoing investigations looking into their alleged misconduct. At least the Union County Prosecutors Office and NJ Attorney General are involved. No way for the town to buy or bully their way out this time. Also, you use the term "break the law", what law is it that I was suspected of breaking that you refer to? I believe that the safety of our residents is paramount and thats why I routinely put 75 to 100 miles a night on my vehicle riding through the residential district I was assigned. Jay, it is clear what your agenda is. I would rather focus on the topic of the pedestrian traffic light. You can continue to "shoot the messenger" in your attempt to silence the message.
Mike May 27, 2011 at 03:52 AM
I'm a Jefferson School Dad who is very nervous every time I cross at the new light. I'm especially nervous when I cross with my kids. To all the people who don't believe how an accident can happen at this light, I know there has been one major accident that required an ambulance (I saw it myself as I was about 7-8 cars behind the accident on my way home). I believe there has been at least one more accident as well. Also, my scientific analysis goes something like this. I ride my bike with/or without my kids almost everyday and have crossed at that light almost everyday since it's been working. I would say that 50% of the time at least one car blows through the light when it's red. It's terrifying when my kids are standing with me.
Mike May 27, 2011 at 04:12 AM
To just add a quick note to my post above. IMHO, the problem is that people don't expect a light that isn't at an intersection. Thus, when they aren't expecting to stop, often they don't. I've seen it many, many times already.
Christopher Beil May 27, 2011 at 04:40 AM
The issue here is simple: the Town Council allows this debate to consume about 90-120 minutes each session. Then they pass all resolutions and ordinances by voice vote in 5-10 minutes, and adjourn. There is no chance for education or debate on specific resolutions related to property demolition or ordinances relating to town matters of all different categories. From a legislative perspective, this does the Town a disservice by blocking debate and questions about these other resolutions and ordinances. Once again, who benefits? What would happen if the US Congress met for 5 minutes once a month and passed every law they had agreed to in non-public committee sessions by a quick voice vote? People would become suspicious of what those laws actually did. Just sayin'.
Lynn May 27, 2011 at 11:12 AM
Thank you!,,,,
NR9 May 27, 2011 at 01:13 PM
Mike wrote: "I'm a Jefferson School Dad... To all the people who don't believe how an accident can happen at this light, I know there has been one major accident that required an ambulance... I believe there has been at least one more accident as well. I have crossed at that light almost everyday since it's been working. I would say that 50% of the time at least one car blows through the light when it's red. The problem is that people don't expect a light that isn't at an intersection. Thus, when they aren't expecting to stop, often they don't. I've seen it many, many times already." This is a VERY helpful comment. IT IS ON TOPIC. It is NOT, like so many other comments, a character attack on Ms.E/Ms.C/Mr.K. I find it interesting that many comments in support of a light at the INTERSECTION are like this one by Mike whereas many comments in support of a light at MID-BLOCK are character attacks with no further support. The issue is NOT whether you like or don't like Ms.E/Ms.C/Mr.K The issue is... Which of the following TWO OPTIONS is the SAFEST and WHY do you support one of these locations more than the other? (a) Current MID-BLOCK location. OR (b) INTERSECTION of CLOVER/CENTRAL. That's it. That's all that should be commented on. This SHOULD NOT be a contest of whether or not you like or don't like particular people involved. Those who attack the messenger are probably doing so because they are unable to come up with solid evidence to attack the message!
Jay Stevens May 27, 2011 at 01:50 PM
I'm sorry, Greg, but it really seems as though you are holding a grudge against the Town since your dismissal and that is why you are putting so much effort into attacking Mayor Skibitsky and the Council. I understand that you are bitter because you feel that you were mistreated but it is time to move on and stop with these outlandish conspiracy theories- it's getting old and your extreme bias is obvious.
NR9 May 27, 2011 at 02:13 PM
@Jay Stevens... It is clear that you don’t like Mr. K. But, WHICH of the TWO LOCATIONS do you think is SAFEST for the traffic light and walkway? The current MID-BLOCK location or the CLOVER/CENTRAL INTERSECTION. Please support your response with facts/observations that are on topic. Please refrain from character attacks on the parties involved.
South Westfielder May 27, 2011 at 02:15 PM
if it is determined that the current location of the light is more dangerous than at the intersection, then I would support the move. There isn't any proof that the light is less safe than if it were moved. Attributing the cause of the accident that occurred because one driver was too close to the car in front of him/her automatically to the light is suiting the desires of those who are bound and determined to get it moved no matter what the facts say. I have seen accidents almost happen every day along Central Ave. I have seen drivers pull out into oncoming traffic from the side roads (including Clover) and then stop suddenly to make the first turn off the street. I'd be willing to bet that even if the light were moved, there would still be an accident at the light. Would you be so willing to blame any accident that would occur there to the placementof the light? What about the accidents that happen on Central and Sycamore/Clifton? That is an intersection.
Gregory Kasko May 27, 2011 at 02:17 PM
Jay, What you perceive and what is reality are two different isuues. If what you perceive were true, I would have embarked on what I am doing immediately after I retired in 2007. It wasn't until after I met with Mayor Skibitsky in the fall of 2010 to discuss concerns I had as a Westfield resident and retired police officer that I decided to get involved in that which I belive I could be of some assistance. During my meeting with Mayor Skibitsky and his legal rep Robert Cochren, I was categorized as a "former disgruntled employee". I corrected Mr. Cochren and told him I was a disgusted resident. This meeting took place after I had witnessed, at a council meeting, how Adina Enculescu and Maria Carluccio were being treated by the Mayor and certain members of the Town Council. I was once bitter about the circumstances surrounding my forced retirement. Since then, I have moved on but in doing so I want to try and make a difference in how town goverment operates. I believe that Mayor Skibitsky is a good person but don't like what he has become as a politician. I would gladly shake his hand outside of the "ring of politics". However, for now I wish to continue supporting my fellow residents in their efforts to seek a government that is truly a representative of all the people and for all of the people and not just serving some of the people.
Gregory Kasko May 27, 2011 at 02:30 PM
Southside Transplant, The Mayor has adamantly insisted that the mid-block location of the pedestrian light & crosswalk is in "the safest location" without offering any expert proof or written documentation. I know, because I have asked for the information. The reports and documentation I have obtained do not make reference to this location as being safer. In fact, they reference the intersection of Clover and Central as the location for the crossing. I don't dispute that accidents happen at intersections because they do. What is being disputed is the process that took place, to place this signal at it's current location. The Mayor had first stated it was a County project in an attempt to evade residents questions, directing us all to the County. I have the documents, including letters from Town Admin. Jim Gildea that acknowledge this was a Westfield design engineer's request for a mid-block crossing contradicting the County's "Signal Warrant Analysis" that was done in 2007.
Ben Harmon May 27, 2011 at 02:33 PM
Greg Kaskso said in defense for falling asleep on the job: "The officer that you claim I failed to back up, had backup on the night in question. In fact, it was btoadcast over the radio that another patrol unit was going to back the other officer up. " Are you kidding Mr. Kasko? So your defense for not responding while you were sleeping on the job is, "someone else will be there." Very weak!
South Westfielder May 27, 2011 at 02:35 PM
Mr. Kasko, Assume that I accept your argument that the current location is not more safe than the intersection of Central and Clover. Now that the light is where it is, what proof do we have that the current location less safe? We don't know.
NR9 May 27, 2011 at 02:44 PM
Now we're getting somewhere. We are on topic. And, I appreciate your statement of: "if it is determined that the current location of the light is more dangerous than at the intersection, then I would support the move." And, I agree with you that there have been and always will be plenty of accidents on Central Ave. The recent accidents in that area- Is it possible that those accidents still would have taken place if there was no mid-block light/walk or if the light/walk were at the Clover/Central intersection... Yes, I'll agree with you there - certainly, it is possible that those accidents would have happened anyway. Based on what I do know of those accidents and where they took place, I doubt it, but, I will for the time being, give you the benefit of doubt on this and go on the assumption that they would have happened anyway. So, where does this now leave us in the discussion? Well, we have MANY observations from MANY pedestrians/motorists saying they have made, almost made or witnessed MANY near-accidents right there at that mid-block light/crosswalk. That alone, should tell us further investigation is warranted. When SAFETY is involved, it is very short-sighted of our politicians to simply say, "well, that's where the light is now, so, well, let's just leave well enough alone." It would be nice to see, from readers and politicians, some solid points as to why some think the Clover/Central intersection is worse than mid-block. I've seen no such points so far.
NR9 May 27, 2011 at 02:47 PM
@Ben Harmon, It is clear that you don’t like Mr. K. But, WHICH of the TWO LOCATIONS do you think is SAFEST for the light and walkway? The current MID-BLOCK location or the CLOVER/CENTRAL INTERSECTION. Please support your response with facts/observations that are on topic. Please refrain from character attacks on the parties involved.
Ben Harmon May 27, 2011 at 02:57 PM
NR9, in fact I believe the light should be moved. I was simply responding to an indensible act that Mr. Kaskso himself posted..which in fact also relates to public safety. Where are your comments to Mr. Kasko to remain on topic?
Gregory Kasko May 27, 2011 at 03:05 PM
No, my defense includes the Audio CD containing the other officer transmitting he and his partner were responding to backup the officer. When you don't receive a transmission over the radio you can't be accused of not receiving it. Also, Verizon phone records proved my "awake" status during the time I was accused of sleeping. But I'm sure you already have your mind made up about the whole set of circumstances. This forum is about the mid block crossing, not some frivolous departmental issues that are over.
NR9 May 27, 2011 at 03:05 PM
Kasko is simply defending himself from your off-topic comments and other peoples' off-topic comments. He is not initiating those off-topic comments. As for moving the light, it looks like YOU, ME AND KASKO all agree FOR INTERSECTION and AGAINST MID-BLOCK. This article is about the light, not about Kasko. If you have points to make in support of OUR position that you and I agree on, please do so. We need more people to speak up. Because, when attacking Kasko in the context of this Patch article, you are giving the appearance of attacking his position on the light. Attacks on Kasko... good guy, bad guy or whatever, belongs somewhere other than in this discussion thread.
Ben Harmon May 27, 2011 at 03:19 PM
NR9 - Relax...take a deep breath. Clearly your passionate about this topic...however limiting people's right to free speech isn't the way to go. Unless you own this site, which you clearly don't, you shouldn't expect people to follow your rules just because you say so. If you can't deal with a free give and take, then I suggest you go to another forum.
Gregory Kasko May 27, 2011 at 03:25 PM
Westfield’s own consulting engineer, Gordon Meth, authored a report titled “Traffic Calming and Safety Improvements for Eight (8) Locations. This report was authored in July of 2006 and submitted to the Town during the planning stages of the Pedestrian light. In that report it lists “Traffic Facts”. One fact listed is: “There were 10 motor vehicle collisions in 6 years” at the intersection of Central & Clover. Central & Clover is the original proposed location of this Pedestrian light until the Westfield Town Council made themselves the “experts” on traffic safety and had it moved away from the intersection. That statistic reveals that an accident occurred, on average, once every 7.2 months. The Pedestrian activated light at the current mid-block location became operational on February 4th 20011. It has already surpassed that aforementioned average thus making the current “Skibitsky/Ciarrocca” backed location of the Pedestrian light less safe…and much more dangerous. If you consider the amount of time that this light has been operational, the “accident occurrence rate average” at the current mid-block location would be one accident every 81 days or 4.6 accidents a year….or 27.03 accidents in the same time frame as the study done at the intersection of Central & Clover which revealed only 10 accidents. That is almost a 300% increase.
Ben Harmon May 27, 2011 at 03:25 PM
Mr. Kasko, this is interesting. Can you give some raw numbers as to the # of accidents during the 81 days you're evaluating. Thanks.
Ben Harmon May 27, 2011 at 03:36 PM
Mr. Kasko said: " But I'm sure you already have your mind made up about the whole set of circumstances." No, my mind isn't made up. But since you said this, I am curious for further clarification. You said an audio CD depicts other officers responding...that I understand. But then you said you can't respond to a transmission that isn't received...so you're saying you didn't hear the transmission? Can you clarify that?
NR9 May 27, 2011 at 03:47 PM
I'm all for free speech. I'm pointing out that many commenters appear to have formed opinions as to what is the safest location based on whether or not they like or dislike those three people. In making decisions about traffic safety, we should not base what we do on a popularity contest for/against those three people. My concern is for the children and adults who walk and drive on that block every day.
Gregory Kasko May 27, 2011 at 03:52 PM
I am not going to continue to facilitate this discussion while the issue is about the mid-block pedestrian crossing. What I will do to answer your questions is to post the audio I have obtained and will dedicate a Sunday evening Internet radio show on the topic. Feel free to call in and ask me anything you want. You can go to www.07090.blogspot.com to access both the show and audio after I have posted it. I will post the date and time of the show on the site. You can also contact me through the site's email address. You can also listen to any of the archived radio shows I have done by accessing them on the link provided on The Fact of The Matter at www.07090.blogspot.com
francis May 27, 2011 at 07:48 PM
I thought the topic of the article and the accompanying video was about the appalling and uncivil way that the stop light advocates from both sides were conducting themselves.
MK_Westfield74 May 27, 2011 at 10:03 PM
I had totally forgotten about Kasko's indictment until he reemerged- I think the Patch should look into his background as an unbiased party so we know how credible he really is or is not. That story literally dominated the headlines for months.
Gregory Kasko May 27, 2011 at 10:35 PM
Your choice of the word "indictment" to describe the departmental charges that were dropped is no different then Mayor Skibitsky suggesting that my employment was terminated when he knows that I retired in good standing. He signed the paperwork. The isuue did not dominate the headlines for months, it carried on from November of 2004 when I first tried to report the use of police computers to do illegal background checks on residents until I retired in November of 2007 which could be construed as years. It is now the holiday weekend, enjoy the great weather.
Sally McBride June 15, 2011 at 04:24 AM
I am not a lawyer, can someone explain the difference to me between "charges were dismissed" and "proven innocent". Nice to hear that the people in charge of the police in Westfield cannot give a credible testimony.
bob05261958 June 23, 2011 at 12:57 AM
Wow!! This seems like a very mature and useful debate that is really contributing to solving the problem. This is a town where the mean income and education level is well above the national average...heaven help us all!
harry December 29, 2011 at 09:21 PM
"I’m just getting started,” t-shirts and bumper stickers are now on sale.

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