WESTFIELD – The Westfield 350th committee met on Monday to prepare for the upcoming public informational meeting next Tuesday, May 30, 7 p.m. at the First Congregational Church, and to share some exciting news.
Peter J. Miller, Westfield director of community development, who spearheaded the committee with community outreach coordinator Amber Danahey, said that members of the committee have come to some conclusions as to their status as a group and the best way to move forward with plans for the 2019, year long, 350th anniversary of the city’s incorporation on May 19, 1669.
Miller said they have decided to spin off as a private, citizen led, non-profit organization. Bernie Fitzgerald-Rosenblum has stepped forward as treasurer of the board, and Harry Rock as president.
Miller said that Rock, the longtime executive director of the Greater Westfield YMCA has an “impeccable reputation, and plays it straight.”
The other required position needed to obtain non-profit status is a secretary. Miller said he was not looking for a commitment at the meeting, but hoped someone would agree to it.
“I’m excited that we have people willing to step up and make this a priority,” Miller said. He said the project would be a true public-private partnership, and the mayor has agreed to have Miller and Danahey continue to use some of their time on it, and serve as ex-officio (or full if allowed) members of the board.
Miller reiterated that the city is not the primary organizer of the celebration but the citizens are and that while he and Danahey have launched the organization and planning, they will be stepping aside to allow Rock, his team and the Westfield residents to execute the celebration. Miller and Danahey’s responsibilities will be as liaisons for the city.
Looking forward to immediate plans, Miller said Danahey has ordered a banner displaying the new 350th anniversary logo, which was designed by a Westfield State University student, which will be carried during the Memorial Day parade on Monday, May 29, beginning at 10 a.m. at Mestek on the corner of Notre Dame and North Elm Streets. The following day, on Tuesday May 30, the public meeting will be held at 7 p.m .at the First Congregational Church.
The committee then brainstormed about the public meeting. Miller said he would prepare an overview of the committee’s work, and share results of the survey taken over the winter. As president of the group, Rock will be the main speaker at the meeting.
Other ideas include stations for the different sub-committees with boards and post-it notes for people attending to share ideas. Miller said that members on the sub-committees, which include fundraising, signature events, marketing/outreach and special projects will be available to speak with people and recruit those who are interested in getting involved. Among the signature events being planned are a 350th celebration parade, fireworks and a giant anniversary cake on the green, reminiscent of the 300th anniversary celebration which was mostly sponsored by the business community.
Dean Ott, who moved to Westfield one year ago and came to Monday’s meeting, said he loves Westfield, and would love to get involved. He suggested making sure that contact information was received from people attending the public meeting. Committee member Mary O’Connell said it would also be important to give them an easy way to contact the committee.
The committee agreed that they are looking for local groups to attend that might like to do an event for the 350th celebration, as well as individuals who would like to share their ideas and input into the planning of the year-long celebration. The committee would also like to encourage groups that already have planned events in 2019 to incorporate the 350th celebration into their concept.
“We want motivated volunteers, contacts, more ideas, and most importantly a buy-in from the general public,” Miller said.
For more information about the public meeting or plans for the 350th anniversary, contact the committee at [email protected], Amber Danahey at [email protected] or follow events at Westfield 350 on Facebook.