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Letters to the Editor

Words and goals from the chairman of the Westfield Republican Committee

April 16, 2015
Westfield Republican

Dear Editor,

In March of this year elections were held in the village of Westfield. As a result of that election, Mayor Mike VandeVelde was re-elected. Trustee Robert Cochran was also re-elected, and Alan Holbrook, who is a registered Republican and was endorsed by the Westfield Republican Committee, was elected to his first term as a trustee.

As the incoming chairman of the Westfield Republican Committee, I would like to extend my congratulations to each of these officials. The committee is hopeful that the entire Village Board of Trustees will work together to move Westfield forward, and we wish them much success.

Article Photos

Submitted Photo
This photograph was taken on North Portage Street in the Village of Westfield in July of 2014.

During the election campaign each of the candidates submitted statements in the local newspapers describing their qualifications for office. These campaign statements were weighted heavily on past accomplishments, and with one exception, did very little to provide the community with their specific goals as to what they intended to accomplish if elected.

Now that these gentlemen have been sworn into office, the Westfield Republican Committee offers the following specific goals for your next term of office, which were developed from a survey of committee members, residents, and business owners:

Main Street Business District- Westfield has never been the same since the Welch's Office building essentially closed following the companies relocation to Massachusetts. Since that time we have seen multiple businessess close on Main Street, our population has decreased, and school enrollment has declined while school taxes go up every year. While the Welch's Building is currently owned by the Town of Westfield, the number one priority of the Village Board of Trustees, the Town of Westfield Board, and the Westfield Development Corporation should be to secure an employer who will bring 100 to 200 employees into that building. Think technology or health care sectors for a buyer. This building is perfectly situated for corporate offices, whose employees will then support our Main Street merchants 365 days a year. The town supervisor is currently negotiating with a company to lease a small portion of the building. This is a good start, but what Main Street and all of Westfield needs is an employer who will fill all 20,000 square feet of that building.

North Portage Street- Everyone who has ever bought or sold a home understands the importance of curb appeal. The curb appeal of North Portage Street between the New York State thruway and Main Street is hurting badly. Begin at 234 N. Portage Street and have the Westfeld Development Corporation find a buyer for the vacant 3.5 acre lot that sits atop the New York State thruway. This is an ideal piece of property for a 24-hour fast-food location. This would be the first such location as you enter New York State from Pennsylvania, and would be the only one on the thruway for 30 miles. Think Starbucks, Tim Hortons, or Burger King. If you want to think outside of the box contact Del Taco, who was just bought out by a Chicago based company. Or consider contacting El Pollo Loco, whose CEO

Steve Sather has said he is considering expanding his highly successful company into the northeast. Once you secure a buyer for that property find another 24-hour restaurant for the vacant site at North Portage Street and Nichols, which most recently was Tammy's Burger Barn. Thousands of vehicles pass exit 60 of the New York State thruway every day with hungry people looking for something to eat. Give them something to stop in Westfield for. By doing so, you will also give your residents more employment opportunities and grow your tax base. If you build it they will come....

Clinton Street Parking Lot- Once you fill the Welch's building and begin to draw people off the thruway you will need a parking lot for people to park so they can have easy access to our Main Street merchants. A battered parking lot full of trash cans that have seen better days will not suffice. To the mayor's credit he did hold a meeting last year to address the issues with this parking lot. However, it is now time for less talk and more action.

Wastewater Treatment Plant- Much was made in campaign literature of the 2.14 million dollar grant that was obtained for upgrades to the waste water treatment plant. Please use that money to control the odor of raw sewage coming from the plant that extended at times onto Main Street this past summer. Let's make 2015 the year that residents on North Portage Street don't have to put up a sign warning people coming off the thruway to "plug their noses" as they drive up Portage (See photograph). We are not a third world country.

Senior housing- In a community and region made up of many senior citizens we need to have living accomodations similar to Fredonia Place so our retirees can sell their homes, and then continue to live the duration of their lives in Westfield. Work with a developer to make this a reality. There are a number of sites in the village to consider for such a location starting with the Portage Inn after it is demolished. If you build it they will come......

Infrastructure- Westfield is beginning to show her age. A strategic plan needs to be adopted to address our aging piping infrastructure, and our deteriorating streets, curbs, and sidewalks. We also need to address the need for a secondary electric feed into the village. There are also whispers in the Electric Department of safety issues.

Marketing- One of the reasons all of us choose to live in Westfield is its natural beauty. We have a Great Lake, miles and miles of grape vineyards, spectacular creeks, and four distinct seasons. We need to make a concerted effort to attract more visitors and residents to this beautiful place. One of the best ways to do so is to bring television and film production to Westfield. Tax breaks approved by the state for movie production in upstate locations took effect in January of this year. In addition to the natural beauty of the area we have a historic Main Street, a train station, a lighthouse, a harbor, and a spectacular library and museum that could all be used for interior filming or exterior shots. Movie crews bring lots of people who spend money in local shops, restaurants, hotels, and bed and breakfast inns. The Westfield Development Corporation should be tasked with this. If you build it they will come......

Code Enforcement Officer- In the survey conducted no Village Department received as many complaints as the Code Enforcement Office. The complaints are extensive, but generally revolve around long delays in issuing building permits, frequent absences during office hours, failure to return phone messages in a timely manner, delays in issuing certificates of occupancy, and demands for expensive documents that are not required by the building code. It is difficult to determine if this is a personnel issue or a workflow problem. Whatever the cause, the Village Board needs to address and correct the problems that exist.

Westfield is very much at a tipping point. She is beginning to show her age. However, the Westfield Republican Committee believes Westfield's best days are not behind her, but are instead in front of her. This community is made up of very strong people who are not afraid to work, and who want only the best for their families. We all want Westfield to be a place to live in, not a place to move away from. The issues identified by our survey are not insurmountable, but they will require hard work. A "maintenance strategy" by our elected officials in which they try to maintain everything as it is and hope nothing implodes while they are in office, will not work.

We stand committed to work with our elected officials to move this community forward, and we look forward to recruiting and retaining those who share our vision in making new history in Westfield.

Tom Tarpley, Acting Chairman

Westfield Republican Committee



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