Council Votes to Improve First Street, and a Move Will Save Taxpayers Thousands

Maria Carluccio Credits: Jackie Lieberman
Councilman David Haas and Councilman Frank Arena Credits: Jackie Lieberman

WESTFIELD, NJ - At the June 5 town council meeting, the council approved a resolution put forward by the Public Works Committee to award a contract for the 2012 improvement of First Street. Mayor Andy Skibitsky was absent. Councilman James Foerst noted that the much-needed work will begin soon after school closes for the summer and will conclude before school begins in the fall.

The council also approved an ordinance to refund bonds in order to lower interest rates, which they estimate will save the town about $182,000 dollars. In addition, the council approved an ordinance fixing the salaries of certain employees of the police and fire departments and another affecting town officers’ and employees’ positions and salary schedules.

Later, after an hour spent in an executive session that was closed to the public, the council voted in favor of authorizing the town to execute a settlement agreement regarding Sunnyside Senior Housing Corporation vs. Town of Westfield. The council also voted in favor of authorizing the mayor to execute a letter urging action on behalf of state legislators regarding NJ DEP vs. Occidental Chemical Corporation, et al.

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When the floor was opened to public comments, resident Greg Kasko asked the council for its alternative plans should grants the town applied for—including the SAFER grant offered by FEMA to help pay for increased manpower to fire departments—fall through. Neylan replied that they would get back to him with answers.

Kasko also asked what plans the council had for generating revenue and reducing wasteful spending, which he said included the Westfield Police Department’s Emergency Service Unit, which he believes duplicates a service provided by Union County.

“Perhaps there’s a plan to phase this out. I don’t know,” said Kasko.

He also suggested that the Dodge Durango driven by former Chief of Police John Parizeau be used by the detective bureau. Several months ago, the town purchased a similar vehicle for use by that same bureau.

Kasko also spoke against the HAWK light and crosswalk on Central Avenue, which he believes should be moved to the intersection.

Kasko, Adina Enculescu and Maria Carluccio regularly attend Westfield town council meetings, arguing again and again against the HAWK system, which sits in front of Enculescu’s home. They have complained that the configuration is confusing and dangerous, that Enculescu’s driveway now appears to be a road on which to turn and that the signal devalues Enculescu’s property.

When she spoke to the council that evening, Enculescu said that she believes a “friend” of the mayor harassed her recently by taking photos in front of her house and arguing with her that the crosswalk is safe.

Enculescu asked the council members if they had read the “data” she had given them a month ago, which she says contradicts the “false data” provided by Mayor Skibitsky.

“There were a lot of mistakes,” she said.

“There were a lot of spelling mistakes,” replied Councilman Mark LoGrippo.

When it was her turn to speak, Carluccio told the council of a recent incident she witnessed at the HAWK light. A driver, she said, drove through the red light despite the crossing guard in the intersection. “I’ve never activated it without somebody going through it,” she said.

“I can’t stand coming down here,” said Carluccio. But, she said, “I’m not going to stop because the danger is not stopping.”

When she asked how much of her 10 minutes of allotted time was left to speak, Carluccio noted, “I feel like I’m on an episode of ‘Chopped.’”

To Councilman LoGrippo she asked, “Are you going to play the tape tonight of how I insulted your wife and children?” referring to his accusation two weeks before that she had left him an unsavory voicemail regarding his family.

When Jo Ann Neylan, who was acting mayor that evening, began to speak, Carluccio told her, “Don’t talk,” saying Neylan might be “admonished” by the mayor later.

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