Councilor O’Connell: Ward Four Report

On Wednesday, November 15, an informational community meeting regarding the proposed Western Avenue reconstruction project was held at Highland School. I would like to thank Principal Jim Kane and his staff for their generous hospitality to the residents of Westfield. Approximately 250 concerned citizens attended the meeting to hear preliminary details of the project.
Meetings on the design and implementation of this project have been conducted since May 2012 with City of Westfield officials, Westfield State University officials , and engineer and designers at Milone and McBroom. (The Ward Councilors have not been included in these meetings). I will have additional information on this topic in upcoming columns including cost and construction timeline estimates and dates for future meetings. The proposed project must take in consideration of all interests. It is certainly easier and more cost effective to make the necessary changes early in the process rather than later. Information must be transparent.
Bob Plasse now has a show on our Community Access Station (Channel 15) that is fabulous. It is called Westfield Time Capsule. He recently did an interview with Joe Trant, a Westfield resident, regarding his World War Two experiences. Part one of this two part series is airing now and Part two will air beginning on December 7. It is a fascinating insight into Joe’s experiences in the war. Joe Trant served in WWI I from May 1943 to Jan 1946. Mr. Trant was a Combat Infantryman 29th Division, 175th Infantry Regiment, and Company G and served in Normandy, France. Fighting across France, Holland, Belgium and Germany Joe met the Russian Army at the Elbe River (near Berlin). The 175th began with 800 soldiers @ Normandy and only 87 survived to the end of the war. Joe was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, the Bronze Star, French Croix de Guerre and the French consul “Honors Diploma”
At our last Council meeting on November 15 the Legislative and Ordinance Committee, chaired by Councilor John Beltrandi, did a great amount of housekeeping and cleaned out old, dated, and moot motions. Some of these items had been in committee since 2010. The work of Councilor Beltrandi is to be commended. This is the non glitz and glamour work that this councilor frequently does and it is appreciated.
Our Ad hoc Charter and Rules sub committee was successful in shepherding the passage of the Home Rule petition through the state legislature (with the help of our local representatives, State Senator Michael Knapik and his Chief of Staff, Peter Miller, and Representative Donald Humason). With this passage we have succeeded in completing two of our Committee’s three tasks, the re-writing of our Rules of Council and the updating of the City Charter. Our consultant, Attorney Peter Martin, has been invaluable in helping us attain our goals and we are grateful to him for his work.
We approach the end of 2012 with only a few scheduled meetings set. There will be a special meeting scheduled on Wednesday, November 28, for discussion of the tax rate along with our two regularly scheduled City Council meetings in December.

Mary O’Connell, Ward Four City Council

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not the staff, editor, or publisher of the Westfield News.

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