Business & Finance

Westfield’s Downtown Task Force Publishes Report, Presents Highlights at Town Council Meeting

Mayor Andy Skibitksy introduces Bill Heinbokel, head of the Mayor's Downtown Task Force. Credits: Jackie Lieberman

WESTFIELD, NJ — Bill Heinbokel, head of the Mayor's Downtown Task Force, presented the highlights tasks force’s new 30-page report at Tuesday's town council meeting. The report was presented to the town council Monday and published Tuesday night on the town’s website.

Heinbokel, who also serves as chair of the Westfield Board of Adjustment, explained the task force’s extensive list of suggestions given to the council for consideration, including changing parking enforcement hours, which are currently 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., to 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Other suggestions include:

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  • Enhancing outdoor space by introducing “parklets” (small, movable temporary structures that can offer shaded seating or even bandstands) and decorating the trees along Elm and Quimby Streets with lights
  • Enhancing and expanding downtown events
  • Removing half of the street parking meters to provide a sense of more space
  • Converting Lenox Avenue to one-way traffic from Central Avenue to Elmer and adding angled parking there
  • Renovating parking lot 7 (across from the post office) and incorporating a portion of Lenox Avenue into it
  • Planting trees in vacant tree wells
  • Redefining the town’s definition of retail service to allow new types of businesses there, such as paint-and-sip spaces and microbreweries and distilleries with tasting rooms
  • Allowing tenants to expand into basement space
  • Allowing tenants to use a space temporarily without having to comply with parking requirements and allow tenants to share spaces
  • Allowing use of rooftop areas
  • Allowing for walk-up windows
  • Allow for ground-floor offices on North and South Avenues
  • Allowing more types of signs, such as A-frame sandwich boards and window signs, both of which are currently in wide use downtown despite rules against them
  • Streamlining the approval process so that businesses coming town can get up and running faster
  • Implementing a public valet parking system
  • Add 15-minute pick-up parking spaces on Quimby Street
  • Educating the public about all of the parking options already available
  • Establishing a system of graduated parking fines, where repeat offenders pay more than one-time offenders

Heinbokel said town should also continue to explore the possibility of tiered parking, as well as gated parking lots; working with ride sharing apps such as Uber or Lyft; and encouraging retailers to stay open later in the evenings.

To read the entire report, click here.

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