I’d like to remind everyone that the public hearing for the 2022 municipal budget will be held at our April 26 meeting. I hope you’ve had the opportunity to view the budget introduction presentation given at our last meeting by Jim Gildea and Councilwoman Habgood, which is available by replaying the meeting on the Town’s Facebook page. You can also see the presentation slides and detailed budget information
between now and April 26. I’m very proud of the budget we’ve proposed – one that reflects the Town’s sound financial health and priorities, as we continue to put your tax dollars to work through responsible fiscal management, investment spending, and strategically utilizing our regenerating surplus.
TONIGHT'S AGENDANew Board Appointments
Tonight, we have two Board appointments to make as a result of recent resignations. I’d like to welcome Mitchell Shusteris to the Board of Health, and Kyle McCarthy to the Bicycle Advisory Board, both filling unexpired terms through the end of this year. As always, we are grateful for our many volunteers in Town and their willingness to give their time, energy, and expertise to serve our residents. Thank you, Mitchell and Kyle.Ordinances on Second Reading
On the legislative front, tonight we’ll hear ordinances on second reading to establish a cap bank and to authorize the consumption of alcoholic beverages outdoors in certain parts of our downtown, as well as a bond ordinance to fund various capital improvement projects this year.Proclamations and Presentations
I’m very pleased to be able to honor several groups of residents tonight with proclamations, including CASA of Union County, as well as the Westfield High School state championship Boys Winter Track and Girls Basketball teams (and we will honor the WHS Girls Swimming Team at our April 26 meeting in recognition of their state championship).
We’ll also have a brief update from the Westfield Green Team about their upcoming Earth Month activities
, and our redevelopment circulation and traffic consultant is here to discuss the findings that led to tonight’s ordinance introduction out of the Public Safety, Transportation, and Parking Committee. Public Safety Ordinance Introduction
I’d like to provide some context before John Federico of WSP makes some remarks tonight about traffic improvements we are making to the lower part of Prospect Street. As a reminder, WSP is our redevelopment circulation and traffic consulting firm, the same firm who prepared the Traffic and Circulation element of our Master Plan, so they are already intimately familiar with town traffic flow and circulation. Any redevelopment work WSP conducts for us is paid via escrow account by redevelopers as part of the redevelopment agreements we require.
As I communicated at our March 8 meeting, a Traffic Impact Study related to the proposed redevelopment at Ferris and Prospect is currently underway, the scope of which includes the intersections of Ferris and Prospect, East Broad and Prospect, Clark and North, and Clark and Ferris – all areas that have been problematic for quite some time, and in need of improvements regardless of any proposed redevelopment. That study continues today and, when complete, the findings will be shared with the public.
Separately, the Town has taken the initiative to look at more immediate and impactful public safety improvements we can make on the lower part of Prospect Street as we await the outcome of the larger study. In doing so, we asked WSP to work with our on-call traffic consultant, Brightview Engineering, to review the area and propose mitigation measures. These recommendations were then forwarded to the Town's Public Safety and Transportation Committee for review, which is chaired by Councilman Jim Boyes. Based on this input, the Public Safety Committee has forwarded their recommendations, which are now reflected in the ordinance being introduced at tonight’s meeting.
The recommended changes in the ordinance consist of three main actions:
- Left turns will be prohibited at all times from Prospect Street onto East Broad Street, addressing a long-time problem area for drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
- The loading zone on Prospect Street adjacent to Bovella’s will be moved ten feet north to improve the line of sight for cars and pedestrians at the intersection of Prospect and East Broad.
- Loading zones in the area (on Elm, Prospect, and East Broad) will shift their hours of utilization, which are currently 9:00am - 7:00pm, to 6:00am - 6:00pm, to better reflect their actual peak usage times and free up the areas for residential and visitor parking earlier in the evening.
In terms of next steps, after tonight’s introduction, a public hearing will be held at the April 26 meeting before a final vote on the ordinance by the Town Council.
It’s important to note that these recommended improvements in the ordinance represent just a piece of a much bigger picture to address the issues in this area. The Town also plans to widen the entrance and egress points to Lot 1 on Prospect Street to allow for better traffic circulation, and Jim Gildea is also in active conversations with Trader Joe’s management at the national level regarding potential improvements to their lot that can assist with parking and traffic mitigation in the area. We will continue to provide updates on these efforts as any new information becomes available, but we are hopeful that the measures in tonight’s ordinance are a productive start.
Before I turn the meeting over to John, let’s all wish Chief Battiloro a very happy birthday!
As always, thanks to everyone for your ongoing engagement and participation.