City Council tackles agenda items

Ward 4 Councilor Mary O’Connell serving as president pro temp during a City Council meeting. (WNG file photo)

WESTFIELD – Ward 4 Councilor Mary O’Connell filled in as City Council president for Brent B. Bean, II who was unable to attend due to urgent business at the university, during Thursday’s meeting council meeting. While the public hearing took up the majority of the two and a half hour-long meeting, other business before the council was also heard, and many items referred to sub-committees.
Immediate consideration was granted and voted for Edward Burzdak as a Parks and Recreation basketball referee for a seasonal position.
City clerk Karen Fanion submitted the order for polling locations for the 2017 elections. Fanion also submitted the call of the city to the preliminary election on Tuesday, September 26 for Ward 4 only, to narrow the field from three candidates to two for the seat currently occupied by Mary O’Connell, who decided earlier this year not to run for re-election. Running for Ward 4 in the preliminary election are Bernard W. Fitzgerald-Rosenblum of St. James Avenue, Dawn Thomas of Loomis Ridge and Michael Burns of Kylie Lane. All other races will be decided in the November 7 election.
Under public hearings, an application submitted by Mobile Store Operators, LLC at 261 East Main Street for a Junk Dealer’s license was continued on a vote by the City Council when the applicant did not appear.
A public hearing on an application for a Junk Collector’s and Junk Dealer’s license submitted by Michael Flynn, owner of Black Hole Guitars at 1029 North Road in the Hampden Ponds Plaza was held. Flynn said he would be repairing guitars and associated equipment, and also selling guitars.
At-large Councilor Dan Allie asked Flynn if he had been doing this work for a long time. Flynn responded that he went to school for repairing guitars in 2009. He said he grew up in Westfield, and started playing music here. He has also worked on national tours with musicians. The item was referred to the License sub-committee.
Under reports from committees, At-large Councilor Cindy C. Harris brought forward the appointment of Christine E. Webster of Blue Sky Drive as a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, first alternate, and Kathleen A. Hogan-Friguglietti of Sackett Road, second alternate. Harris said that Webster is an attorney, and Hogan-Friguglietti a retired educator in the Westfield Public Schools. Both appointments passed unanimously.
A continued public hearing on an application for a special permit, site plan approval and storm water permit for a contractor’s yard and trailer drop and office at 103 Servistar Industrial Way was withdrawn without prejudice on a request by Rob Levesque for his client Marc Pignatare of H&H County RE, LLC.
Under motions, a request by Councilors Bean and Robert A. Paul, Sr. to plan a ribbon-cutting for the new addition and renovations to the Little River Fire Station was sent to the Mayor’s office and Fire Department. Paul said he believes the roadway is adequate to have the ribbon cutting, although no dates have been chosen as yet.
Paul also presented a motion by Bean to have the Fire Commission meetings scheduled in the Little River Fire Station community room. Paul said there is not adequate room for the meetings in the other stations. Since the motion requires a change in the City Charter, the matter was referred to Legislative & Ordinance and City Properties.
A motion by At-large Councilor Dave Flaherty for a Resolution requesting the mayor to transfer 100% of any healthcare “premium holiday” funds to the OPEB or Stabilization savings account in order to help reduce the $260 million unfunded obligation was presented.
Flaherty said the request for the premium holiday was made due to the health of the trust fund balance as a result of good claims history, and was approved at the Health Plan Trustee meeting on August 30. He said the trustees also requested in a letter to the Mayor that the savings from the holiday be used for the City’s OPEB trust and stabilization. The matter was referred to the Finance Committee.
Flaherty said he may be coming back to the City Council for a similar request on another premium holiday, due to the health of the trust fund balance.
At the end of the meeting, Ward 1 Councilor Mary Ann Babinski notified the council of two upcoming meetings on PFCO and well contamination. A public hearing will be held on September 27 at 6 p.m. in City Council chambers, along with updates on well contamination. Babinski said a meeting on PFCO contamination is also scheduled for October 11 at 6:30 p.m. at North Middle School.

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