A moment of silence honoring the victims of the tragedy in Boston was followed by Acting Mayor Jo Ann Neylan’s announcement that Mayor Skibitsky and Town Administrator Jim Gildea were not present, as they are conducting a number of workshops in Savannah, Georgia that involve planning for emergencies such as Hurricane Sandy.
According to Neylan, Skibitsky was contacted as a result Westfield’s actions taken during the emergency. Workshop discussions include community strategies, steps taken during an emergency and how to alert citizens.
“This is truly a testament to Westfield that other communities would (seek Skibitsky,)” she stated.
Subsequently, Central Avenue residents Maria Carluccio and Adina Enculescu again entreated council members to move the stoplight in front of Enculescu’s home. Carluccio said that she feels Councilman David Haas is the only one who represents her, and stated that Councilman Mark LoGrippo represents "the Mayor,” and stated that the council as a whole are “politicians who do what you do because of… power.”
According to Carluccio, she and her dog were recently next to the stoplight when a woman from Scotch Plains who was heading towards Westfield veered toward Carluccio, missing her by a foot. Carluccio explained that she didn’t call the police because the woman was so upset.
In response to her question about whether or not a crossing guard should report dangerous situations to the police, Haas told Carluccio, “I would hope so… but it’s not a job requirement.”
Additionally, Enculescu told the council that they had initially voted on false data and that in less than two years there were 14 accidents at the stoplight, “not because the drivers are not paying attention; not because the drivers are stupid, but because the crosswalk is… horribly, terribly placed.”
She added that she has seen the crossing guard sitting in her car and not assisting pedestrians.
Greg Kasko agreed, saying: “One of the primary functions of crossing guards is to watch out for the safety of kids, and if they’re not reporting dangerous situations, that’s an issue.”
According to Kasko, he observed the crossing guard at Grove Street directing traffic when there were no pedestrians in sight. He asked her why and she said, “They told me to.”
Kasko criticized Mayor Skibitsky’s “Dear Neighbor” letter, which has making public safety a top priority. He stated that he believes that the mayor has only reduced public safety in recent years.
“It’s only a matter of time before something tragic happens at that location,” he said.
Certified drivers’ education instructor Tony Del Duca disagreed with Central Avenue residents, saying that there is a law requiring traffic to stop for pedestrians at a crosswalk regardless of whether or not there is a stoplight.
Westfield resident Robert Burslem also asked the council that they monitor restaurants’ outdoor tables and chairs that impede upon sidewalks.
At the close of the meeting Councilman James Foerst explained a number of ordinances for an affordable housing plan. “It’s a unique situation with housing because usually the council doesn’t (get involved with what) the planning board (is doing,)” he explained. He went on to say that the planning board approved Fair Share on April 10—which includes six ordinances on affordable housing—and that it took two years for the plan to make it through the court system.
As a result of settling an ongoing lawsuit brought by Sunnyside Senior Housing, a development consisting of 24 units, which will carry age-resistriction, will be built 206 Springfield Avenue. Of the two dozen units, four will be deemed as "affordable units."
Foerst added that the plan also clears up a minor lawsuit involving a house on Springfield Avenue and will provide especially for senior citizens and those with special needs. “It [the plan] confirms existing properties in the plan and adds some,” he said.
According to Foerst, there have already been hearings on the implementation ordinances and on the planning board’s master plan. A fairness hearing, which is scheduled for June 10 at the Union County Court, will provide the opportunity for individuals and groups to voice their objections to all or part of the plan.
Finally, a town code involving Dumpsters has been amended to require that companies acquire a permit and comply with certain safety standards so as to keep dumpsters out of areas that could cause safety issues.