With her most recent Letter to the Editor, submitted Sept. 17, 2019 to local print, digital and social media, Mayor Brindle has claimed that we in Westfield are “victims” that have been “complacent” and that our “‘downtown problem’ ... will of course now take time to reverse.”
Mayor Brindle then, with the rest of her letter, proceeded to tell us with the same information found in Addendum One of the Initial Report of Research and Recommendations submitted to then Mayor Skibitsky by the Mayor’s Downtown Task Force (DTF) Sept. 26, 2017, (specifically pages 7 & 8, under section titled “Additional Information”).*
With the town-wide meeting to summarize the Town of Westfield Master Plan Reexamination this past Oct. 2, 2019, Mayor Brindle and H2M, (the consultant preparing the Master Plan Reexamination Report), presented a power point deck to the public that looked a lot like the power point deck prepared by LRK Consultants April 4 , 2017. That deck was used that same evening by DTF Chairman William Heinbokel to present the Initial Report of Research and Recommendations to then Mayor Skibitsky and that town council. Both documents provide an interested person with the exact same information. Yet, only the latter is available to the public for consideration.
It is unfortunate that the most transparent administration in the history of Westfield, NJ is unable make the formal policy of a previous administration accessible to anyone interested in the public context “for how we got here.”
Those also fortunate to have had “a front seat to the evolution of our changing town,” yet used our seat to positively engage our community over the past decade or two, have already seen a lot of their time wasted by the priorities of Shelley Brindle. As expected, Mayor Brindle’s consultant agrees with consultant previously advising the DTF. All those consultants probably went to the same schools and attended the same trade shows.The expert advice didn’t change, one expert to the other.
Those also fortunate to be in front seat with Shelley have to wonder what happened to the time and money spent confirming what the downtown revitalization specialists from two years ago already told us, and whether the social and partisan priorities of the current administration got in the way of employing the critical near-term recommendations made by the non-partisan DTF in these subsequent two years.
We needed the master plan reexamination to comply with New Jersey State laws. We didn’t need a master plan reexamination to reset the economic table downtown.
If we were indeed waiting for Mayor Brindle and the input from 783 of our neighbors, about 2.5% of Westfield participated in the efforts of the DTF and about 2.5% of Westfield collaborated with Shelley’s more inclusive effort. Admittedly, I did not participate in the latest master plan surveys because I didn’t believe solutions the industry experts were recommending for downtowns like Westfield would change in two and a half years, and because I did not need the social capital credits that Mayor Brindle uses for feeding her 20/20 dragon.
Always welcome to act herself, and contribute her own expert skills and genuine advice to Westfield these past 25 years, Shelley Brindle contributed little from the front row seat during her first 23 years in town. Between first moving to Westfield, and her evening at town hall on Jan. 24, 2017, citizen Brindle’s only engagement with the town was to offer the dais her disingenuous complaints to go along with her 20/20 vision; not her advice, not her expertise, not even her vote was cast from her front seat.
Over these last two years, the mayor has used her elected opportunity planning parties, attending protests and promoting an agenda of social activism. Those also fortunate to have a front seat with Shelley Brindle to the reality of our downtown problem also remain “optimistic and steadfast,” yet have seen little in the form of action that puts forward our confidence Mayor Brindle understands the priorities of Westfield “at its most pivotal moment today.”