January 2, 2014 at 9:31 PM
WESTFIELD, NJ — Driving snow didn’t stop a crowd from attending the Town of Westfield’s 2014 organization meeting the evening of Jan. 2. Among those in attendance were Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, Union County Freeholder Al Mirabella, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Mark Ciarrocca and Union County Prosecutor Grace Park. The invocation was given by Rabbi Douglas Sagal of Temple Emanu-El.
Mayor Andy Skibitsky was sworn in for his third term in office at the start of the meeting. Also sworn in were returning council members Sam Della Fera, Vicki Kimmins and Keith Loughlin and first-time councilman David Oliveira. Each received a standing ovation.
After making appointments and announcing council committees, Skibitsky gave his annual state-of-the-town address.
The mayor reminded everyone that he and the council are volunteers and thanked the council and their families, as well as his own family, before thanking all of those who volunteer to serve on committees, boards and commissions as well as all those who contribute to the town in other ways. He thanked the voters who participated in the election and said he was humbled to serve.
Summing up Westfield in one word, Skibitsky called the town “strong.” He spoke about the impact of the global economic crises that began in 2007 on Westfield and how the council prevented cuts to services and even enhanced them with responsible spending and by finding new sources of revenue.
He spoke about Downtown Westfield’s “strong” 92 to 94 percent occupancy rate and how downtown was named a “Great Place in New Jersey” by the American Planning Association.
He spoke about Westfield’s strong home values, noting that some have even called Westfield’s real estate market “hot,” and that Movoto Real Estate named Westfield the third-best “city” in New Jersey.
He spoke about how the town acquired a new ladder truck, mobile command center and generator over the past year and received a $75,000 grant for a backup generator. Meanwhile, downtown parking lot #4 underwent complete reconstruction.
He also spoke of upcoming projects for 2014—improvements to the town’s recycling thanks to a Sustainable Jersey grant, new pay stations that have been ordered for parking lots, a “rescaping the suburbs project” in the works by the Green Team and the Green Team’s work to obtain certification from Sustainable Jersey, as well.
“Westfield is a strong community. We accept our challenges as opportunities,” the mayor said. He later added, “I have great faith in the strength of this town because I have great faith in the strength of its people.”