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Wednesday, May 09, 2012

A Pledge of Allegiance In More Ways Than One (VOTE in TFoTM reader's poll to the right)

     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.

12 comments:

  1. TFOTM –

    By focusing on just those accidents having taken place when the light was in “activated” mode, Mr. DelDuca and others focusing on just those accidents are being very sneaky.

    The Cambridge/Clover portion of Central Avenue experienced 16 accidents in the 21 months following installation of the equipment/signs and road paint (approximately at Jul 1, 2010). When annualized, that represents about 9 accidents per year. Meanwhile, from Jan 1, 2002 to Jun 30, 2010, a period of 8.5 years, there were 11 accidents at the Cambridge/Clover portion of Central Avenue. When annualized, that represents (ONLY) about 1 accident per year.

    Why the increase to 9 accidents per year from (ONLY) 1 accident per year? Well, what changed at the Cambridge/Clover portion of Central Avenue? Let’s see… The traffic safety experts recommended installing a STANDARD light at CLOVER. However, the mayor, instead, installed a HAWK light at CAMBRIDGE. Then, in the following 21 months, there were 16 (SIXTEEN!) accidents…. But, out of the 16 accidents, how many took place when the light was in its “activated” mode? Answer – only ONE accident. That means 15 accidents took place when the light was NOT in its “activated” mode. Conclusion – The light does NOT have to be in its “activated” mode for the equipment/signs and road paint to confuse drivers into having accidents. The mere existence of that equipment/signs and road paint has been confusing drivers at ALL TIMES, day and night, and NOT just when the light is in “activated” mode.

    The problem with responding to a comment like Mr. DelDuca’s with proof of just “ONE” accident is that it sort of proves his point… that the “activated” light has not been a problem—surely, just “ONE” accident is not so unreasonable to expect… HOWEVER, this is the “BAIT” those like Mr. DelDuca (and the Mayor/Council) want us to take. The focus needs to be on ALL accidents (ALL SIXTEEN OF THEM!!) at the Cambridge/Clover section of Central since Jul 1, 2010 REGARDLESS of whether or not the light was in its “activated” mode.

    The traffic safety experts recommended a STANDARD TRAFFIC LIGHT at CLOVER. Installation of the HAWK LIGHT at CAMBRIDGE was clearly a mistake. UNION COUNTY has offered, for FREE, to remove the “non-recommended” equipment from Cambridge and install the “recommended” equipment at Clover. It’s time to acknowledge the CAMBRIDGE MID-BLOCK MISTAKE and correct it with a STANDARD LIGHT at the CLOVER INTERSECTION!

    -NR9

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  2. Greg - Get your facts CORRECT. I said "MANY OF THE ACCIDENTS HAPPENED WHEN THE LIGHT WAS NOT EVEN ON" not all of the accidents happened when the light was off

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    1. Follow The LeaderWednesday, May 09, 2012

      The Leader newspaper is online at www.goleader.com and is reporting that Tony DelDuca said the accidents have occurred when the light is not activated. I guess the Leader reporter also got their facts messed up huh Tony. The paper said you quoted a philosopher about the definition of insanity. Maybe you ought to look in the mirror.

      Delete
    2. Follow The LeaderWednesday, May 09, 2012

      Sounds like semantics Tony

      Delete
  3. TFoTM recognizes Tony DelDuca's desired correction as to what he stated while commenting during the public comment portion of last night's town council meeting. When approached after the town council meeting and asked to be quoted on the topic, Mr. DelDuca did not want to make a statement to be quoted by TFoTM. TFoTM respects Mr. DelDuca's request to set the record straight however, absent a direct quote from Mr. DelDuca, TFoTM interpreted his comments made during the "public" portion of the meeting in the manner in which it has been reported. The story will be updated to reflect this interpretation.

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  4. I lived in Westfield for over 20 Years until I recently moved. Driving on Central Ave now is very confusing especially when I noticed the change with the new lights. I guess my question is why wasn't the pedestrian light placed at the intersection at Clover with the traffic light? From what I gather from this blog, that is the million dollar question. Petty politics and old boy network still remain the same in town.

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    1. Mayor Skibitsky has publicly stated that he relied on the experts and not public opinion with regards to the location of the light at the cul-de-dac'd intersection of Central and Cambridge.
      Mayor Skibitsky on numerous occasions has stated that the Citizens Traffic Safety Advisory Committee was formed by the Town Council to obtain feedback from residents at public outreach meetings. From those meetings it was determined that there was opposition to a light at the intersection of Central & Clover and that residents just didn't want one.
      If Mayor Skibitsky relied on the experts, why didn't he listen to his own engineering expert Gordon Meth when Meth had originally proposed the light to be located at Central & Clover?
      TFoTM is currently researching the election between incumbent Democratic Councilwoman Claire Lazarowitz and Republican newcomer Andy Skibitsky in 2002. Claire Lazarowitz was Chairwoman of the Town Council's Traffic Safety Committee and was a supporter of a light at the intersection of Clover & Central and had fielded requests from residents that wanted a light at that location. Skibitsky defeated Lazarowitz at the 2002 polls by 277 votes and the Westfield Leader deemed it the "biggest upset of the evening" and labeled Skibitsky a "Republican newcomer."

      TFoTM still asks Mayor Skibitsky.......Was the decision to place the light at Central & Clover based on public or expert opinion?

      Elections are based on public opinion.

      Public safety and engineering recommendations should be based on expert opinion.

      It appears the experts original recommendations with regards to a light at Clover & Central were altered due to public opinion which would mean Mayor Skibitsky's claim that he relied on the experts is an "un-truth" or that he "mis-spoke." To be continued...............

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  5. So Mr. DelDuca is admitting that there have been "MANY" accidents and that the light did not have to be on (activated) for those accidents to have taken place???? Now, I think he's saying he agrees that the Cambridge/Clover section of Central has been made to be very dangerous regardless of whether or not the light is on (activated). I think he is agreeing with Mrs. E and Mr. Kasko now. I think he's now taking the position in opposition to Mayor Skibitsky?????.

    Mr. DelDuca - Please clarify if I'm understanding you incorrectly here.

    -NR9

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  6. I understand that the Mayor, The Town Council and probably most residents as am I are sick and tired of hearing about the HAWK light on Central Avenue. It makes zero sense. It sounded like a great idea on paper but now that it is up and running it really has no place being where it is.
    That being said. The Mayor and Town Council are elected officials, they chose to be on East Broad Street on Tuesday evenings. They (The Mayor and Council) wanted to represent "their" people. I find it extremely offensive that the Mayor and the council tell a resident that they refuse to answer a question because "he/she" already answered it. I understnad that you are the Mayor, you should receive the respect that comes with the office but Sir/Madam with all due respect you wanted to be a part of the system. Both the good and the bad and the ugly come with the job. You all made the decision to put the HAWK light in, if you really believe in it then you need to answer all the questions anytime they are asked regardless of how many time they are asked or by whom. Stand by your decision and convince ALL of us that it deserves more electricty than the RR crossing on Rahway Ave., not just the "chosen" ones that show up at the council meetings!

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    1. Be careful or you might hear councilman Foerst chime in "we do this because we want to" and then 5 minutes later he will say "I don't get paid enough to have to sit hear and listen to this" while holding up his $1 paycheck that he will remind us he doesn't even cash. Actually, no council person cashes them. They keep them as a ceremonial token.

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  7. Regarding the poll at top right... Since ZERO of the experts recommended the HAWK light and ZERO of the experts recommended the mid-block location and ALL of the experts recommended a STANDARD TRAFFIC LIGHT and ALL of the experts recommended the CLOVER INTERSECTION, how could someone vote that the experts influenced a HAWK light at mid-block???? Could one of the (currently) five people who voted "experts" explain exactly which expert(s) they had in mind when casting this vote above? Experts Gordon Meth and Pennoni Associates both recommended a STANDARD TRAFFIC LIGHT at the CLOVER INTERSECTION. Unless someone can shed additional light on this that I’m missing, I think that a vote for “experts,” rather than “politicians” is, by definition, a vote indicating that the voter doesn’t understand a very key aspect of the controversy at the Cambridge/Clover portion of Central. Were there any experts hired by the town/county who actually recommended HAWK/Mid-block? I don’t think there were any.

    -NR9

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  8. Happy Mothers Day to all the Moms reading this blog........

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