A new year brings new hopes and expectations. Westfielders shared some of their thoughts on what they'd like to see in 2012.
Westfield Schools Superintendent Dr. Margaret Dolan shared her expectations and goals for the district for 2012:
· Develop increased opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.
· Disseminate the District’s new(developed by a community-wide committee) to students, parents and staff members and continue efforts to encourage respect and anti-bullying;
· Perform a demographic analysis of projected enrollment to provide data in determining long range facility, staffing and curriculum needs;
· Revise and introduce curriculum to meet and exceed state standards and to engage students in a life-long love of learning;
· Provide new professional development opportunities for teaching and administrative staff
Lone Democratic Councilman David Haas said while he doesn't believe there are any new major initiatives planned for 2012, he expects to see something "come out of the efforts regarding the high school parking lot."
"I think we can expect the protests over theto continue," said Haas, referring to the pedestrian activated light on Central Avenue that has been a source of controversy since September 2010.
Installed as part of an overall project to improve the safety along the Central Avenue corridor, the light has been the focus of resident opposition. Central Avenue resident Adina Enclescu, who has the light on her front lawn, and her neighbor, Maria Carluccio, have been at every Council meeting for 15 months asking that the light to be moved 150 feet to the intersection with Clover Street. In July, Haas became the first Town Council member to publicly support the potential moving of the light.
"While there are other Council members who are sympathetic to Adina, they don't necessarily believe that it would be safer if it were moved to the corner," Haas explained.
"I expect that we'll have a difficult budget and taxes will go up but there's nothing new there. We'll continue to cut back to meet the tax caps we have to meet," he continued. "I hope the economy picks up and the people of Westfield who've been bitten by that are getting back in better financial shape."
Mark Censits, owner of CoolVines, said that at least in his business, things are already on an upswing in town and believes that for many in Westfield that will continue.
"Well, our holiday sales were more than twice what they were last year, which is probably mostly due to our relocation/expansion, but I think also that people were more upbeat this year...or perhaps just have found some balance and equanimity with the economic turbulence of this recession," said Censits. "I think 2012 is uncertain for the country overall, but I feel that Westfield has regained its footing and should be a decent, if not strong, year for the businesses. With recession can come the 'flight to value,' which will be tough for some of the premium stores in town, but should be good for stores like ours, where we focus on 'under the radar' great values instead of the overpriced big brand wines."
Daniela Palumbo, owner of the recently-opened interior design showroom, echoed Haas' and Censits' sentiments.
"I hope the new year brings success, health, happiness, and prosperity to all," she said.
"When one asks what you want in Westfield in the New Year, all of the normal wishes for peace and prosperity etc. come to mind," said Greg Kasko, a retired police officer. "After you get past these ultimate goals, you try to think of something attainable. What comes to mind is reasonableness. If political party affiliation could be put aside on the municipal level, all would benefit. If personal pique and stubbornness could be rejected by the majority, we wouldn't have results such as those recently witnessed at the federal level, in the House of Representatives, regarding taxes.
"Practicality of solution should transcend the egotism that sometimes bind us all to stupid comments improvidently made. All citizens of Westfield are human and thus subject to error. This mortal trait even extends through to elected and appointed officials. It would be unreasonable to require the Mayor and Town Council to be correct all of the time in the same way it would be unreasonable for them to act as if they are correct all of the time.
"It would be nice for the new year to see reason reign supreme. Priorities could be established and monies spent accordingly. Everything would be on the table. Just because an expenditure was made in 2011 is no reason why it must be made in 2012. Let's make use of the free advice we can get
from our state government and universities. Let's ask independent experts how things should be run and what it should cost and why. End the practice of depending on the opinion of appointees who have a vested interest in the opinion they give. If government ran solely on reasonableness, there could be no greater wish for Westfield."