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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Westfield Mayor Skibitsky's Deceit and Denial: HAWK Pedestrian Light Location Causing Confusion

     Central Ave. resident Adina Enculescu approached the microphone during open public comment at the last Westfield Town Council meeting.
     She took the opportunity to remind Mayor Skibitsky that the 18th motor vehicle accident between Clover St. and the HAWK Pedestrian Crossing Signal had occurred in front of her house.  The traffic signal is at the base of Enculescu's driveway, confusing some motorists, slowing down to make a left turn onto Clover St., thinking the driveway is an intersection where they can turn left.
     Mayor Skibitsky quickly reminded the resident that most of the accidents have occurred near the intersection of Central Ave. & Clover St., the location where the town's consulting engineer and a Union County analysis had recommended a traffic signal be installed.  In the 8 years prior to the installation of the mid-block HAWK Pedestrian Signal, there were a total of 9 accidents along this stretch of Central Ave. leading up to Clover St.  Of those 9 accidents, 7 included vehicles stopped at, or attempting to turn left onto, Clover St.  In the 4 years since the installation of the HAWK, there have been 18 accidents.  Mayor Skibitsky is 100% correct in his statement that most of the accidents have occurred near the intersection of Clover St. & Central Ave.
     One has to wonder what Mayor Skibitsky was thinking after two engineering firms, one hired by Westfield, recommended that the intersection of Central & Clover be controlled with a signal.  Both engineering firms agreed with the inventor of the HAWK signal, Dr. Richard Nasi, that the signal be placed at the intersection where statistics have revealed is a safer location for the pedestrian crossing..  In FACT, the inventor of the HAWK pedestrian signal concluded, after field testing, that a mid block pedestrian crossing is LESS safe.  Mayor Skibitsky's non-professional opinion will attempt to have you think otherwise.
     In a 2005 Traffic Calming and Safety Report, Westfield's consulting engineer Gordon Meth wrote the following after he had conducted his own analysis of the intersection of Central Ave. & Clover St.
  "There is concern about the difficulty turning left from the east side of Central Avenue, since this traffic has no connection to a roadway with a traffic signal." 
The report also states, "Construct a pedestrian activated traffic signal at this location and relocate crosswalk to it."
There is some confusion as to where the author was indicating "this location" to be.  The report suggests Central Ave. & Cedar St. but we now know that residents of Cedar St. strongly protested a light at that location.
     Union County hired its own engineering firm to analyze the issue.  A 2004 report by the Louis Berger group that predates the town's consulting engineer's report, clearly states the following in the report's conclusion leaving no doubt where Union County recommended the signal to be placed.
     "Based on the above analysis, School crossing Warrant 5.0 is satisfied at Intersection of Central Avenue and Clover Street.  The INSTALLATION OF PEDESTRIAN SIGNAL will certainly improve the safety of elementary school-age pedestrians, within the vicinity of the neighborhood."
     Mayor Skibitsky has stated that the current location has been approved by County and State officials.  What he doesn't tell you is that Union County officials "rubber stamped" Skibitsky's hastily approved town council resolution to accept the current location of the HAWk pedestrian light.  Union County officials stated that Westfield chose the location, not Union County.  Skibitsky's answer to the question of why there has been a significant increase in accidents on Central Ave. between the HAWK pedestrian light and Clover St......."Accidents happen all the time."  Nice try Mayor.  You're entitled to your own opinion but not your own FACTS.  TFoTM will stick to the facts and data gathered on this issue.
     Both Union County and the State of New Jersey would have approved the intersection of Central & Clover based on professional studies and reports filed.
     Unfortunately, many of Mayor Skibitsky's Ward 3 voting block wouldn't have.  Once again, politics ruled.


  1. My wife and I are frequent users of the HAWK light. We now have a little game to guess how many cars will go through the solid red lights. The over/under is 1.5. The record is 3 cars.

    We are surprised when no one blows through the solid red.

    1. Mayor Skibitsky's response to your observation would be, "Cars blow through red lights all over town." That's the response he has given numerous times at Town council meetings. His ill-advised approval of the placement of the mid-block HAWK light has caused extensive property damage to motorists, tied up police officers handling the unnecessary accidents, and caused bodily injury to motorists.
      Mayor Skibitsky refuses to answer the simple question, "Why has there been a significant increase in accidents between the HAWK light and Clover St. since the installation of the light?"
      One of Mayor Skibitsky's biggest "cheerleaders," Westfield resident Tony DelDuca, stated the increase in accidents could be attributed to the increase in membership at Bally's Gym in Clark. The man is obviously not a traffic engineer and neither is Mayor Skibitsky but they make a great twosome on the golf course.
      It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that something has changed that is causing the increase in accidents and it's not "gym rats" Tony.
      It's clearly the HAWK pedestrian signal's location.

    2. Furthermore, Mayor Skibitsky has stated, "The light is working as intended."
      Well in that case Mayor Skibitsky, so does a light switch, flip it up and the intended result is a light turns on.
      What the mayor has ignored is that while the HAWK light works as intended (press the button and red lights start to flash) the increased accidents caused by the lights location mid-block wasn't intended.
      If the light is working as intended as Mayor Skibitsky proudly states, then why is there a need for a crossing guard at the pedestrian crossing? Skibitsky will cry "REDUNDANCY"

    3. I agree that it is working as intended - it gets you across the street (after waiting for all cars to stop).
      What he does not say is that the current location and signage adds to driver confusion. Law of unintended consequences.

      Yes cars go thru red lights all the time, but there is not another light where it would be on this consistent a basis.
      The town would make a fortune if they began ticketing drivers.

    4. All the more reason this pedestrian crossing belongs at the intersection where both consulting engineer firms, one for the town and one for the county, recommended it to be.

  2. The placement of this light was purely political. The mayor knows that, the council knows that, the people know that. There were far less accidents befor this light was put in. It was not needed. The crossing guard holding up a stop sign was just fine.

  3. Blow it up already, enough of the nonsense...BOOM!

  4. Mayor Skibitsky says that hundreds use the crosswalk. That crossing is lucky if it sees a half a dozen kids cross in the morning and when they return home after school. And in the winter time there is hardly anyone that uses the crossing. Just ask the crossing guard. She sits in her car most days and does nothing.

  5. Why don't you and your buddies try an experiment. Stand there in shifts all day and just keep pressing the button. You could see if the light works as intended. Monday morning at rush hour would probably be best to start.

    1. That's already been done. When the Mayor states, "The light is working as intended," he should add to that statement "but when I, Mayor Skibitsky decided to influence the location of the light by having it moved away from the recommended location at the intersection of Central and Clover, the increase in accidents wasn't intended."
      His ego won't allow him to admit he made a mistake.

    2. try something more about right after the bars close....that should make for interesting results....

  6. There was no need for this ridiculous light! The crossing guard was working as intended!

  7. I hope the mayor and council take notice of the recent mid term elections....its not if your are democrat or republican.....if you dont do your job in the eyes of the people you are going to loose your job....