Westfield Town Council meetings begin with a prayer and the always overt Pledge of Allegiance. In addition to last night's traditional pledge, it appeared that a covert or subliminal pledge of allegiance to Mayor Skibitsky took place as some residents, that have previously voiced their support of Mayor Skibitsky, took to the microphone to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting.
Last night's Westfield Town Council meeting saw the return of Mayor Skibitsky to the dais after a brief bout with the flu that kept him from his mayoral duties two weeks ago. Aside from one resident thanking the town council for addressing a bicycle safety issue in Tamaques Park, the Central Avenue HAWK light once again was the focus of comments made by residents.
Possibly feeling the after effects of the flu, Mayor Skibitsky remained silent on some questions asked about the placement of the HAWK light, while answering others with his patented response of "I've answered that question one hundred times before......"
Westfield residents Tony DelDuca and Dan Lynch once again approached the microphone to support Mayor Skibitsky and his administration with DelDuca taking it one step further by stating he found it "annoying" that this issue (HAWK) has continued at town council meetings. Westfield residents are allotted 10 minutes to address the town council on any issue of which the Mayor and council have "jurisdiction" over.
DelDuca claimed that none of the multiple accidents, that have occurred since the installation of the HAWK light, took place while the light was activated. (This is an interpretation based on public statements made by DelDuca during public comment) SEE COMMENTS BELOW. TFoTM has, in fact, identified one accident that did occur during the activation of the HAWK light while school-age pedestrians were crossing. That accident occurred on 4-25-11 at 3:45 pm (WPD case #11-9037) DelDuca suggested that the increase in accidents was due to an increase in vehicular traffic over the years.
Data (accident reports) obtained by TFoTM through the Open Public Records Act indicate that accidents are occurring at an alarming rate compared to data compiled prior to the construction of the pedestrian crossing.
Prior to the construction of the HAWK project which included the cul-de-sacing of Cambridge Rd., the installation of blinking warning signs, numerous roadway markings, and other painted channelization, this stretch of roadway had experienced only 9 accidents in the northbound lane between 2002 and 2010 of which 7 involved vehicles attempting to make a left turn onto Clover St.
Contrasted, from July 9, 2010 (around the beginning of construction of the HAWK pedestrian crossing) to the present time, there have been 13 accidents in the northbound lane of which 9 accidents involved vehicles slowing or stopped to make a left turn onto Clover St.
Westfield's consulting expert engineer Gordon Meth had identified the Central & Clover intersection as a traffic "hot-spot" in 2005 indicating in his report submitted to town officials dated July 26, 2005 that "There is a concern about the difficulty turning left from the east side of Central Avenue, since traffic has no connection to a roadway with a traffic signal." Gordon Meth had proposed a pedestrian activated traffic signal at the intersection. When asked what has been done to address this issue, Mayor Skibitsky has responded, "We have."
When approached by TFoTM after the town council meeting had concluded, Tony DelDuca was asked if he knew why there had been a significant increase in left turn accidents at Central and Clover since the construction of the HAWK light began. Mr. DelDuca declined to make a public statement.
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