Westfield resident Pamela Orbach spoke before the Town Council Tuesday evening to voice her frustration regarding leaf and debris pick up and to make suggestions on how the Westfield Police Department could improve public safety.
In November of 2011, Orbach spoke before the Council on the same subject, which she noted on Tuesday evening.
"I understand that you have no control over the Board of Education calling for repeated elections in an election year that cost the town $30,000 each," Orbach stated. "But the Town does have control over other issues. I was here recently to complain about a lack of leadership at public works. Institutional memory, rational thinking? I know they work hard but I believe they need guidance and somebody needs to be setting policy because they still do not seem to act rationally."
Orbach said year after year while serving on the Parent Teacher Council she and others asked that street cleaning near schools be made a priority.
"Yet, I live in Zone 1 and once again they didn't clear the leaves all around Franklin School," said Orbach, who added that for schools without parking lots leaves and debris cluttering roadways is a problem and not only at Franklin but at McKinley and Wilson as well. "Yet they don't seem to remember from year to year so people can park and park safely."
Orbach said she wished that the Town Council would form a group or that Town Administrator Jim Gildea would "take leadership" of policy setting for the public works department.
The Embree Crescent resident also questioned if there was a policy in place for managing snow removal. She suggested that rather than posting signs, a town-wide policy be set with parking designated on either odd or even sides of the streets so plowing could be completed. She also recommended that residents wishing to have their driveways plowed park in the Memorial Pool lot so as not to obstruct the snowplows.
Orbach said she is also concerned about driving and pedestrian safety in town. She stated that the public perception within the Westfield community is that “it's very unsafe to be a pedestrian here.”
"One reason that people drive their kids everywhere is that they don't trust other drivers,” she said. “I think we have a real problem in awareness of public safety laws.”
Orbach proposed that through “social networking,” police target a specific driving offense, such as idling or failure to yield, on a month-by-month basis and issue warnings. She said she believes this would get residents talking and raise awareness without any cost to the town.
Finally, Orbach said she believes the Town is paying more than it needs to for crossing guards to accommodate parents “who won’t follow the rules.” The 28-year resident said when her children were attending Franklin School they walked the route where a single crossing guard was stationed.
"It’s costing us money to have a crossing guard at every single junction," said Orbach.