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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Dynamic Duo....Mayor Threatens To Turn Off Microphone To Censor Citizen

     At last night's Town Council meeting, Mayor Skibitsky threatened to turn off the microphone while Westfield Resident Maria Carluccio was speaking to the Council on the issue of the placement of the pedestrian activated light located at the cul-de-sac'd intersection of Central Ave. & Cambridge Rd.
     The Mayor continues to stand by his belief that the light located at it's current location is "much safer" than it would be if relocated to the original proposed location recommended by the "experts."  Those experts include traffic safety engineers that were consulted by Westfield and Union County.
     When Mayor Skibitsky was pressed to back up his claim that the light is safer at its current location, he referred to a statement in the "Signal Warrant Analysis" compiled by Union County's consulting engineer, The Louis Berger Group. 
"Elementary school children are of special concern regarding their interaction with motorized vehicles.  Children are less able to make such judgements, being less attentive to their surroundings.  A child's difficulty at determining a safe time to cross a busy street is compounded at a corner where the child must keep track of two directions of traffic and side-street cars turning into the pathway." 

Go to the following TFoTM link to review the full report and the conclusion that warrants a pedestrian signal at the intersection of Central Ave. & Clover St.: 

     What the Mayor neglects to remind people is that the statement in the report describes conditions existing before the installation of a pedestrian light at this location, the intersection of Central Ave. & Clover St.  A pedestrian light coupled with the stop sign on Clover St., along with the crossing guard would make it much more safer for a child to cross at the intersection than mid-block where motorists are not expecting a pedestrian signal.
     Nowhere in any "expert's report" can Mayor Skibitsky identify any statement that suggests the current location of the Central/Cambridge pedestrian light is any safer than the original proposed location of the light, at Central & Clover.
     In Tucson, Arizona where the "HAWK" pedestrian light was first introduced, a 97% compliance rate has been achieved where motorists yield to pedestrians at an intersection.  Tucson has over 60 of these pedestrian lights controlling major four lane intersections with side streets....and the Mayor continues to stand by the claim that the current location in Westfield, mid-block, is much safer without providing any hard core proof.

Mayor Skibitsky,
    When anyone complains about the placement of the new pedestrian traffic light at mid-block south of Clover St., you deflect the argument by saying the light makes things safer for the children.  This is like the Board of Education defending Dr. Dolan’s new salary demands by saying it’s for the children.
     Mayor, let’s make sure everyone understands that a traffic control device makes any crossing of any street safer than no device.
     Mayor, let us further agree that no one objects to the existence of a device, they object to not only the present placement, but to your personal part in misleading the public and mistreating a Westfield Taxpayer.
     You began by telling Ms. Encelescu that she was in the wrong governing body and to take her complaints to the County because it was their project, their decision to place the light where it stands front of her house turning her driveway into an intersection.
     We now know that was wrong.  The decision to place that light in mid-block was made by you and the council.
     You also told Ms. Encelescu that she should not complain now if she didn’t attend the public meetings in 2005.  We now know that there was never public notice of any location other than the intersection until the last meeting when it may have been discussed.
     Ms. Encelescu cannot be blamed for not attending a meeting when the notice varied from the subject matter.
     You then retreated to the expert’s reports until all of them referred to the intersection.  Finally you depended on Mr. Meth, your consulting engineer, whom you can afford to attend the Westfield High School Traffic Safety & Parking forum, but you can’t afford to appear at a town council meeting.
     Most recently, you are quoted in the Westfield Patch online as waiting for the results of an analysis of the lights effectiveness.  I ask you Mayor, who is doing this analysis?  Is it the same group that told you how safe that area of Central Ave. has become since the inauguration of the light?  Whoever told you that, certainly did you no favor, Mayor.
     Two and a half weeks ago I saw workers erecting new signage on Central, north and south of the new light at the cul-de-sac'd intersection of Central and Cambridge.  I took this opportunity to speak to them and they directed me to the on-site construction engineer from the Louis Berger Group, Union County’s consulting engineering firm. 
     I asked him why additional signage was being installed.  He indicated that people had complained about the number of cars running the light.  Additional signage had to be erected farther down, the road in both directions, because it was unsafe as is.  Mayor, Union County's consulting engineer from The Louis Berger Group stated that the signage being installed that day was above and beyond what was mandated because this crossing location has been proven to be unsafe due to cars running the light due to an unfamiliar location mid-block.  Motorists expect signals at intersections.  Perhaps you should check with the Westfield police department traffic safety bureau who could tell you of the problems and the new signage by the county.
     That traffic safety bureau, to which I referenced, that’s the same organization who initially sat in on the public meetings back in 2005 until they were told not to attend anymore.  It’s my understanding that the traffic safety bureau had previously given the opinion that the corner of Central and Clover was the proper location for the light.  It's no wonder they were told not to attend any more meetings.  Mayor, why were they excluded from the decision making on where the light should be installed?
     In your defense Mr. Mayor, I again wonder as to your sources of information.  The Westfield Patch quotes the Town Administrator Jim Gildea, referring to some 2002 study.  This is three years before the Town began public hearings to put a light in the exact spot Mr. Gildea claims did not meet state requirements for a light.
     If Mr. Gildea is now relying on a 2002 report by some unknown entity, might we see it?  If this report says a traffic light was not warranted, why did he allow public meetings in 2005 about a traffic light at that intersection?
     Mr. Gildea then says the County recommended the Pedestrian Light.  So Mayor, you have your administrator telling a Francis Terr resident, Mr. Laskaris, that a full regular traffic light (Red, Green, Amber) would not be good because a 2002 study said so.
     In light of his knowledge of that study, he allowed all those meetings to take place concerning a spot he says was declared unwarranted three years earlier and then tells us a pedestrian light was recommended by the County.
     Mayor Skibitsky, your disdain for Councilman Haas’ questions is obvious by your claim that the present location of the light is safer.  You are quoted in the Westfield Patch telling Mr. Haas, “It’s safer where it is.”
     I request that you tell us all, if you have any expert report that says the present location is safer?  If you do not, it might be appropriate to apologize to Mr. Haas for your baseless statements.

The Dynamic Duo

     Mayor, if you’re going to quote reports, expert studies or other writings in defense of what I have presented here, please let us know the identity of the report, study, or other written documentation and its author.

     Mayor Skibitsky, the placement of the pedestrian light was a child/pedestrian safety measure that you and Councilman Ciarrocca turned into a political issue that you thought nobody would ever question when you had it moved from it's original proposed location of Central & Clover.  You were both wrong. 
Councilman Ciarrocca continues to emphasize the input of the Town Council appointed Citizens Traffic Safety Advisory Committee that deliberated on this issue in 2005.  The committee consisted of six people, one person from the neighborhood where the pedestrian light has been installed, none of whom are traffic safety experts.   
     Mayor, Councilman Ciarrocca, TFoTM hopes the few votes you gained by locating the light away from its original proposed location of Central & Clover outweigh the number of votes you stand to lose in the next Town Council election slated for November 2011.  If not, a long awaited "breath of fresh air" will hopefully infiltrate the Town Council. 


  1. The mayor is responding in a manner consistent with someone that has been caught in a lie. Shame on all you citizens for questioning the almighty mayor, you're not supposed to question his authority. Well, at least that's not what he's accustomed to. Overheard friend's of mayor questioning his reasoning on this issue. Barbershops talk, and so does the diner.

  2. Kneel before Zod......

  3. If the opportunity were to present itself to elementary students to determine where the safest location for a crosswalk and / or crossing light should be, I'm confident the little tykes would know precisely what everyone else with a third grade education knows; DON'T CROSS THE STREET IN THE MIDDLE, IN THE MIDDLE, IN THE MIDDLE, IN THE MIDDLE, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BLOCK. TEACH YOUR EYES TO LOOK UP, TEACH YOUR EARS TO HEAR, WALK UP TO THE CORNER WHERE THE COAST IS CLEAR. AND WAIT, AND WAIT, UNTIL YOU'VE SEEN THE LIGHT TURN GREEN. The mayor of Westfield whom I equate to Scar in the Lion King, has determined that a cross walk is safer in the middle of a street like Central Ave. It is truly mind blowing. What is even more mind blowing is that he is being backed up by other council members such as Mrs.Neylan, Mr. Dela Fera, Mr.Arena, and of course his heir apparent Mark Ciarrocca. The mere fact that a project like this came to fruition is utterly astounding. You guys who sit up there on the dais as if you're on a high horse or something are now the laughing stock of our community. Move the light to the intersection or anywhere except in that poor woman's front yard! Man do you all look stupid. Do you want to look smart and humble and electable? Move the light! Move the darn light! Just get it over with. Everyone else in the world knows the light will most certainly be moved eventually. Just do it! Now!

  4. The deplorable condition of the grounds at Fire Station 2 (Central Avenue) should be addressed. The contractors stuff all along the side of the building is a mess. The landscaping is a disgrace. It look terrible.

    Isn't the Fire Chief embarrassed that a funeral procession for one of his own men is going through there and the hearse will be transferred to a funeral car at Station 2?

    Not to mention the fact that another town will be standing by at the station for his department?