WEST ORANGE, NJ - After a presentation from the facilitators of the Mock Shooter Drill at Liberty Middle School earlier in the day, the town council settled back into business after a summer break. The meeting had several resolutions and three ordinances on second and final reading to approve, along with three ordinances on first reading. (See the full agenda here.)
At the top of the list, the council unanimously approved an amendment and an ordinance on second and final reading to the Harvard Press redevelopment plan, allowing the units to become rentals as opposed to for sale units. The units will be offered to renters with incomes in the $35,000-$60,000 annual income bracket. Explaining that the area is in dire need of rentals, the redevelopment, half of which is in Orange and half in West Orange near the Valley Arts District, will help to revitalize a growing area and convert a 40-year deserted site into affordable housing for "working families." They hope to break ground by January 2014.
After a presentation by the township, the Town Council unanimously approved a resolution to award the refuse and recycling collection contract to Suburban Disposal, noting that there will not only be an increase in services to some residents, but save the township approximately $1.09 million over the five-year period of the contract.
After questions were posed to Kenny Esser of Gabel Associates, the council then unanimously approved the Ordinance Authorizing the Establishment of a Government Energy Aggregation Plan. The plan is aimed at savings residents money on the electric portion of their energy bill.
The council also unanimously approved an ordinance on first reading entitled "Licensing for Shop Local Rewards Program,"
In fact, all resolutions, ordinances on second reading (including the re-appropriation of funds originally appropriated for the West Orange Concession stand to be used to procure three or four new jitney buses), and the ABC hearing were approved unanimously.
The only dissented item of the evening was Ordinance 2382-13 on First Reading, Amending the town council agenda to place "General matters pending" after public comment. Councilman Krakoviak disagreed with moving the General Matters pending to another part of the agenda, arguing that it was important for residents to be apprised of things they may not be aware of, and could comment on them.
Council President Susan McCartney, along with town attorney Ken Kayser, said that in fact the council had been "out of compliance" for having it on the agenda in the first place. Councilwoman Spango said that originally that time was used for council members to apprise residents of township events, and that it had turned into "a forum" for council members to talk about issues. "We should keep to the agenda" she said.
The Ordinance passed on first reading 4-1 with Mr. Krakoviak voting 'no.'
Resident Steven Serebnik expressed his concern about crime in the Valley section of town. Mayor Parisi told Serebnik that he understood the frustration and assured residents that police were doing a good job of addressing crime. "Crime has gone down in West Orange by 50% since 1995" said Parisi. In addition to their affiliation with Essex County to deter crime and the installation of security cameras in key locations, the township also has three police officers in the police academy and expect to have two more by the fall.