The following are highlights from the update that Mayor Shelley Brindle gave at Tuesday night’s town council meeting.
Unfortunately, I must begin tonight announcing the passing of one of our own, Detective Eric Lieberman, a 27-year veteran of the police department, who died suddenly this morning. He leaves behind an extended beloved family, including his father, Phil, who is also a veteran of the Westfield Police Department, as well as two children. Our condolences go out to his family, as well as to his colleagues in the police department. Funeral arrangements will be announced when confirmed.
It seems that April showers brought May showers the last two weeks. In spite of the weather our DPW was hard at work finishing the debris pick up and planting and mulching all around town. The south side train flower bed also got spruced up thanks to Keller Williams, who sponsored a beautification effort in partnership with Williams Nursery and our DPW.
The Westfield Historical Society celebrated their 50-year anniversary with a gala at Echo Lake Country Club featuring former Gov. Tom Kean. Councilwoman Dawn Mackey was on hand to present them with a proclamation from the town.
Our WHS senior athletes were celebrated at a banquet hosted by the Boosters, which I attended. Thirty-one athletes were presented with various scholarships, demonstrating the breadth of academic and athletic excellence of this senior class. Congrats to senior Natalie Bond who was awarded the prestigious President’s Award and will be continuing her lacrosse career at Stanford in the fall.
I had the great pleasure of speaking to Ms. Conneely’s 7th grade social studies class at Roosevelt, which happens to be my son Nick’s class. I shared with them some of the crazy ordinances on our books such as ensuring that our cows and swine are always secured, and that dancing is not allowed after 1 a.m. No bow and arrows are allowed, either.
Thanks to Brad Chananie and Phil Michel, co chairs of our Senior Citizen Advisory Council, for hosting a senior’s breakfast on Friday. The turnout was amazing, lured by the delicious breakfast provided by Vine Ripe Market. Attendees filled out a survey answering questions about what services they would like to see and how the town could best communicate with them. Seniors are critical to the vitality of our community and we are committed to ensuring that they are included and able to stay here.
Congrats also to the Downtown Westfield Corporation for another successful Girls Night Out where over 1,500 women registered to attend the evening’s festivities.
I also want to remind everyone that the Annual Memorial Day Parade is scheduled for this Monday at 9 a.m. and we look forward to seeing the community participate and are hopeful for good weather.
And lastly, tonight we will be voting on a resolution to allow the mayor to execute a lease agreement with Union Sports Arena for a temporary ice rink at Gumbert Park. If passed, this resolution allows us to negotiate and execute a lease for the installation of the rink subject to reaching final agreement on terms, and obtaining all required permits and approvals from the town.
The proposal for a temporary ice rink has been in the works for a few years, predating this council. It was thought worthy of consideration by the previous administration but it wasn’t until Union Sports Arena agreed to be the management entity did it seem feasible. The Recreation Commission unanimously agreed that it was worthy for consideration by the town council, which was then reviewed by the code review committee, which deemed it worthy of a vote. Which is where we are tonight.
The temporary ice rink proposal meets two of the objectives that I have prioritized since I was elected — improve services to residents at little or no cost to taxpayers and increase community engagement. I’m evaluating the proposal on those merits, while taking into consideration the impact on the neighborhood. I have no vested interest other than that. I’m not a hockey mom nor do I have a relationship with Union Sports Arena.
We have met with and heard from many of the Gumbert Park neighbors, several who are legitimately concerned about noise, traffic and safety, while other neighbors have offered their support. Many accommodations have been made to mitigate neighbor concerns but undoubtedly there will be some inconveniences. If this does move forward, we are committed to making this a positive experience for all, including establishing a neighborhood ice rink forum that will enable Gumbert neighbors to provide regular feedback and direct communication with Union Sports Arena.
Of course, we can’t anticipate everything, which is why this is considered a four-month trial. Any assessment afterwards will include input from the neighbors, the hockey and non-hockey communities, and Union Sports Arena to determine the future viability of a temporary ice rink and appropriate locations going forward.
Regardless of where we net out on this vote tonight, let’s don’t forget that we are all neighbors. Everyone’s perspective matters and we need to remain respectful of differing points of view. So please refrain from cheering, jeering and any disruption. Everyone has the right to be heard.