We continue to see ongoing improvements in COVID trends as the Omicron surge declines. Today, the state’s seven-day average for new confirmed positive tests is down 10% from a week ago and 85% from a month ago as case numbers fall to levels seen before the current surge that began in early December. In addition, statewide COVID hospitalizations have fallen to their lowest point since November 28 – all very encouraging signs as we move past this recent surge and continue toward pre-pandemic normalcy.
As I mentioned at our last meeting, the Edison Fields working group is meeting with the Neighbor Advisory Council tomorrow night to address many of the questions raised by the neighbors based on updated facts and data. I will be attending, along with Finance Chair Linda Habgood, Recreation Commission liaison Scott Katz, representatives from WHS Athletics, Recreation Commission representatives, and Town Administrator Jim Gildea. We will be providing an update to the public soon thereafter.
FINANCE POLICY COMMITTEE ITEMS (Remarks by Councilwoman Habgood, Finance Policy Committee Chair)2022 Budget
Thanks to the members of the Finance Policy Committee, as well as our Town Administrator and CFO, and all of the Town department heads for their ongoing work to finalize a proposed 2022 budget. We anticipate introducing the budget to the public at the March 22 meeting, with a vote for adoption on April 26. In the meantime, I encourage anyone who has not reviewed our public budget forum presentation from last month to view it on our website
, and submit any questions to email@example.com
. Finance Resolutions
Tonight, we’ll be voting on a few resolutions of interest from the Finance Policy Committee. We will vote to authorize an award of contract for on-call traffic review and circulation planning services for our redevelopment sites. As the Mayor has mentioned previously, it’s important for us to have reliable projections of traffic and circulation impacts of any redevelopment projects. The award of this contract would continue our relationship with WSP traffic consultants, who prepared the Traffic and Circulation element of the Master Plan and was also the lead agency for the previously completed North Avenue state-funded corridor study. The cost for these services are to be paid out of developer escrow accounts.
Similarly, we’ll vote on a resolution authorizing award of contract for on-call parking consulting services. This would continue our relationship with THA parking consultants, who prepared the parking details of the Traffic and Circulation element of the Master Plan element. As with the traffic and circulation consultant, these fees would also be paid out of developer escrow accounts in order to conduct project parking reviews.
We’re also voting on a resolution authorizing award of contract for the purchase and installation of new replacement playground equipment for Windsor Park. Approximately half of the cost of this project is offset by a Union County Kids Recreation Trust Fund Grant, and we look forward to seeing a new Windsor Park playground!
CODE REVIEW AND TOWN PROPERTY COMMITTEE ITEMS(Remarks by Councilman Parmelee, Code Review & Town Property Committee Chair) Historic Designation Ordinances
At our January 22 meeting, we voted on resolutions referring three more properties to the Planning Board for historic designation – two private properties at 23 Stoneleigh Park and 112 Ferris Place, as well as the historic coffee kiosk owned by the Town at the South Avenue Train Station. These have now been approved by the Planning Board and come back to us tonight as ordinances on first reading as the next step toward their formal designation. Ordinances on Second Reading
We’ll hear an ordinance on second reading tonight to amend our road paving requirements. As we discussed in our last meeting, this change is intended to provide residents with a more feasible and economic solution who need to open the road in order to convert their home from oil to gas heat. However, we will be monitoring the impact of this ordinance to ensure it applies to only those limited circumstances and is not affecting the integrity of our road paving program.
Also on second reading, we’ll hear an ordinance to adopt clear, uniform, and comprehensive standards, regulations, and permit requirements for the installation of small wireless facilities within the Town’s rights-of-way.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING UPDATE
Tonight, we’ll also hear from Town Planner Don Sammet as he presents our affordable housing updates that were submitted to the state, which is an annual requirement. As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m very proud of the work Don has done to build a positive working relationship with the Fair Share Housing Center in meeting our state-mandated obligations and increasing housing diversity in our community.
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, I’m very pleased to share that we’ll be voting on a resolution tonight naming the Route 28 South Avenue Traffic Circle as “The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Circle.” I’d like to thank my nine year-old neighbor, Priyanka Hargreaves, who first suggested this idea as an additional way to memorialize Dr. King permanently in our town. I couldn’t be more proud of this resolution, further demonstrating Westfield’s commitment to inclusivity. Priyanka is here tonight, along with Liz Wolf of the MLK of Westfield Association, and I’d like to invite them up here as we read the resolution that we’ll vote on later this evening.
With that, let’s get to work.