Westfield Police Recognize Council for Work During Sandy and More at Meeting
Tuesday, March 5, 2013 • 11:41pm
WESTFIELD, NJ — At the March 5 Town Council meeting, the town council announced that Westfield will purchase public safety equipment including a mobile command center to be used in emergencies, as well as for everyday needs. More about this story to follow.
The council also discussed the budget that will be introduced in two weeks. This year’s budget will keep taxes below the two-percent increase allowed.
“I think the residents of Westfield will be very satisfied with the budget,” said Councilman Sam Della Fera at a council conference meeting held earlier that evening. TAP will also have more on the budget in a story to follow.
Westfield Police Chief David Wayman surprised the council with a presentation on behalf of the Westfield Police Department and Policemen’s Benevolent Association recognizing the mayor, town council and Town Administrator Jim Gildea for their work during Hurricane Sandy and her aftermath.
On Feb. 21, a Westfield Police Department awards dinner was held during which several individuals were recognized for their actions “ranging from the heroics such as the arrest of a carjacking suspect armed with a loaded Uzi machine gun following a motor vehicle pursuit to the securing of the public safety by arresting burglary suspects and drug dealers … to the numerous successful lifesaving efforts taken by our officers,” said Wayman.
Wayman presented the same Hurricane Sandy Service Bar and Hurricane Sandy Service Certificate that was given at that dinner to police officers who served during the state of emergency during and following Sandy to the mayor, each member of the council and Gildea.
“Thank you, chief. That was very unexpected,” said Mayor Andy Skibitsky, who then praised the Westfield officers for putting themselves in harm’s way to protect the people of Westfield.
A representative of The Westfield Community Players gave a presentation that included information about their current production of “Proof.”
And representatives from H&R Block ">gave a presentation about their tax services.
During public comments, Karen Egert of the New Jersey Residents for Action told the council that she was disappointed “and kind of shocked” when she read a letter in The Westfield Leader by Mayor Skibtsky that responded to a letter by Councilman David Haas.
“I was disappointed by the language I saw in the letter,” said Egert.
Egert also told the council “There’s no traffic control” near Westfield High School when traffic is heavy in the mornings. “This is a safety issue,” she said.
Resident Greg Kasko, who has in the past told the council that crossing guards do not have the authority to direct traffic when students are not present, told the council that Egert was another person complaining of that same issue.
Councilman James Foerst said that Egert’s complaint was the opposite of Kasko’s.
Regarding the mobile command center, Kasko asked, “Is there a need for a vehicle such as that in Westfield?” He reminded the council that the municipal building has a backup generator. (The mobile command center will be capable of generating electricity.)
“We need redundancies. Generators fail,” answered Mayor Skibitsky.
Lori Bennett asked the mayor to reconsider singing Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
Regarding the high school, Bennett added, “There’s a lot of traffic and it’s kind of crazy before school … and after. It’s definitely a safety issue.”
Resident Dave Lovato later came before the council to say that he believed strongly in Second Amendment rights and that he believes that the legislation called for by Mayors Against Illegal Guns leads to more bureaucracy.
“This kind of legislation for this scenario is not going to solve the problem,” said Lovato. “I want to thank you, Mr. Mayor, for your leadership.”
Adina Enculescu once again came before the town council to argue against the HAWK light and crosswalk on Central Avenue just in front of her home. She asked Mayor Skibitsky if he had reconsidered changing the crosswalk’s location.
“Every time I use it I think of it and I think it’s working well,” answered Skibitsky.
Enculescu said that the mayor insulted her and others “who came here and said something you disagree with—every single person.”
Enculescu continued to speak after Skibitsky told her that her time was up. She began to talk about gun control, saying “I hate the guns,” before she was asked again to leave.
“You’ll hear me next time,” she answered.
Maria Carluccio also spoke about the HAWK light, saying, “Every time I activate it cars go through at such a high speed it’s unbelievable.”
She also complained that there was litter on and around Clover Street. “It’s a garbage dump. What’s going on?” she asked. “Have you ever issued a ticket in this town for litter?” She also complained of graffiti on the HAWK light.
She asked the council why they didn’t put a camera on the HAWK light to end the debate. She also complained that the town has no term limits.
Regarding the sewer fee, which Carluccio called a “tax,” she asked “Why do I have to pay it now, three months earlier than I did last year?”
Councilman David Haas responded that the fee was implemented as early as it could be last year and that the tax office had told the town that now is the optimal time of year for them to have people pay the fee. Haas said that the bill for this fee will be sent out regularly at this time of year from now on.