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Saturday, April 28, 2012
The Mouse That Roared
Westfield Town Councilman Keith Loughlin, who represents residents of the 4th Ward, can be seen at Westfield Town Council meetings sitting to the far right of the dais. He is often quiet and typically reserves his speech for when resolutions are voted on. On occasion, he will lead the Town Council in a prayer before the meeting; a task shared by each councilperson on a rotating basis. For the most part, he does not waist his words on political rhetoric, unless of course, he has something to say and can back it up.
The joint effort between the Westfield Town Council and Board of Education to resolve the ongoing parking issue at Westfield High School is to be commended, again.
Finally, a resolution is in sight, or is it? What we do know is that discussion and debate have taken place and the outcome of public "outreach meetings" held over the past year have yielded some solutions that will soon be implemented.
The Fact of The Matter was present at these meetings and although the proposals put forth to the public, and to be voted on by both the Town and public school governing bodies in the near future, are a step in the right direction, some are left wondering will these proposals solve the problem?
Without banning daytime parking on streets within walking distance of the high school, or paving over what little "green-space" is left where physical education and athletic competitions are held, or even eliminating the high school's open lunch policy, can the residential parking issue and it's residual effect on tranquil neighborhoods be resolved to the satisfaction of taxpayers that have waited over a decade for a resolution?
One resident that attended the last public meeting is concerned that the time in which the Town and Bd. of Ed. will take to implement the recommended proposals, that will hopefully ease parking related complaints, is "too aggressive." In response to this comment, 4th Ward Councilman Keith Loughlin responded with perhaps the most poignant response that sheds light on many "political" processes that are notorious for "feet dragging" and posturing. Loughlin responded to the resident that questioned the urgency of moving forward with, "The time for meetings is over, its time for action."
Some might consider Loughlin's response, posturing. The Fact of the Matter considers it leadership. Councilman Loughlin made Clara Peller (of Wendy's fame) proud. Enough was enough in the eyes of many. Councilman Loughlin put into words the sentiments of those that have been waiting years for action. Likewise, TFoTM would love nothing more than to close the Town's checkbook to a consulting engineer that has been paid for services rendered with a "no-bid" contract........that's a news story for another time.
The Fact of the Matter has been critical of some of the actions of town government but when we recognize a positive it doesn't go unnoticed. Although the vision of TFoTM doesn't always see eye to eye on some of the local political issues being addressed by politicians, its refreshing to watch one such elected official speak up for his constituents with so few little words, on an issue that has dragged on for such a long time. Loughlin's response to residents in attendance at the parking meeting was followed by overwhelming applause.
This would not be the case for Councilwoman Neylan in her response to questions regarding the availability of parking on Stoneleigh Park.
TFoTM requests that Councilwoman Neylan, who stated that Fire Chief Kelly indicated fire trucks could not pass through Stoneleigh Park if parking on both sides were allowed, produce any document or study by Kelly, which supports her claim of his statements. It would also be interesting to see if Chief Kelly had any adverse indication concerning parking on one side of the street in Stoneleigh Park.
TFoTM was present at the meetings and remembers no public statement by any fire department representative on the subject of parking on Stoneleigh Park. Does Mrs. Neylan receive "private" indications from Chief Kelly on matters of public safety. She might be as correct on parking in Stoneleigh Park as she was on the use of the fire department's ladder truck....."for scenic aerial views."
Sitting in Cafeteria B of Westfield H.S. on that night, watching Loughlin take charge with so few words, quite possibly avoided a "food-fight" of banter back and forth between town officials and the residents in attendance.
When the mouse roared, he provided beef; he left the political cheese to be distributed by Neylan. TFoTM and others weren't eating it.
From one Westfield grad to another, "Well done Mr. Loughlin"........and that's not to be confused with how we want the cafeteria's "mystery meat" sandwiched between two sesame seed buns, cooked and served.