Government

Longtime Downtown West Orange Alliance Trustee Resigns Before Board Could Vote to Remove Him

0e2ad47aa8275e7b1323_WP_20161220_20_23_53_Pro.jpg
Jerry Eben addresses the West Orange Township Council the night before he resigned as an Downtown Alliance trustee rather than face a removal vote. Credits: Alan Grossman
3f3ea36b9e33cf2cf161_WP_20161221_19_40_52_Pro.jpg
The Downtown West Orange Alliance Annual Meeting was led by, front of the table from left, Alliance Executive Director Megan Brill and Chairman John McElroy Credits: Alan Grossman
0e2ad47aa8275e7b1323_WP_20161220_20_23_53_Pro.jpg

WEST ORANGE, NJ — Moments before a vote was to be taken to remove Jerry Eben as a trustee of the Downtown West Orange Alliance (DWOA) on Wednesday, Eben tendered his resignation from the board.

Calling the board’s action to remove him “unfair” because he did not know the charges against him, Eben told the board he would resign due to what he viewed as his inability to prepare a proper defense.  

When Eben queried DWOA Chairman John McElroy about the charges, McElroy told Eben that “it is not practical for the board to have a discussion on this matter.”

Sign Up for E-News

“People are well aware of problems with Jerry and his combative nature,” he said. “We don’t wish to have a discussion about this at this meeting.”

When asked to defend himself at the meeting, Eben read from a letter he sent the board on Dec. 13. His major objection to the board’s actions, according to the letter, was that he was being removed without cause, which he deemed invalid and “a clear violation of the law.”

He added that the board’s action to remove him makes the mayor’s appointment power null and void, and said that he should be allowed to prepare a defense of the legal charges.

“I still want to know what the charges are, and I would like to hear them from the board,” said Eben, who in addition to being a longtime trustee of the alliance has volunteered on various township boards during his more than 40 years as a resident of West Orange.

Eben is also the past president of the New Jersey Society of Architects and a former national board trustee of the American Institute of Architects.

At Wednesday’s meeting, new DWOA board member Louis Dorf said he was never notified that there was a motion to try to remove Eben from the board.

“We are coming in here with an assumption that he will be removed from the board, which is outrageous,” he said. “I have heard there has been unpleasant exchanges and rancor between Jerry and people in the administration. There should be an opportunity for discussion. The way this is being handled is not appropriate.”

In his letter of resignation, Eben said that he leaves with a heavy heart, and that the removal of the board’s only architect and planner is “unconscionable.” He decried the board’s longtime lack of zoning enforcement and property-maintenance enforcement.

In addition, he bemoaned the lack of vision amongst the township’s leadership to “make downtown all it can be.”

“Design excellence is what draws people downtown,” he said.

This theme picked up from what Eben said the night before at the West Orange Township Council meeting, where he called for an “attractive environment of spaces” downtown. In addition, he called for a long-term plan that would include improving traffic flow and meeting parking requirements that are needed to make the township’s downtown flourish.

Council members Michele Casalino and Joe Krakokoviak stated at the time that they hoped Eben could work out his issues with the alliance leadership.

“Jerry has contributed to our township for four decades,” said Krakoviak, stating that he is shocked and concerned about this issue. “He is one of the top professionals in his field. I know he speaks his mind and, as someone who does the same thing, I know this can challenge people…It is unprecedented that the Alliance or any other board would kick someone off. We should be welcoming volunteers. I hope this dismissal doesn’t take place.”

Eben’s resignation at the alliance meeting made the removal vote a moot point.

When asked after the meeting if the alliance would like to make any further statement about this issue, McElroy said he would not comment further about it. Eben was also unavailable for additional comment.

During the meeting, McElroy was reelected as the chairman and Ysabel Strowe was elected as one of the board’s elected trustees. The board has six elected trustees and six appointed trustees.

In addition, the board elected Kevin Kruse as vice chair, David Drill as treasurer and Mike Brick as secretary. It also approved the following team leaders: John McElroy for the Organization Team, Kevin Kruse for the Economic Revitalization Team, Mike Brick for the Marketing & Promotions Team and Ron Raymond for the Design Team.

In her closing remarks, DWOA Executive Director Megan Brill said one of the major successes this year was bringing greater awareness of the downtown eateries during West Orange Restaurant Week. She said that the online publicity generated for this week generated 13,000 impressions. 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

West Orange

$100 OFF per Week for Summer Camp Now!

July 12, 2018

Guerrero Marital Arts is now offering an 8-week summer camp for summer 2018!

Pick which weeks you want!

Camp Weeks are:

July 16, July 23, July 30, August 6, August 13, August 20, August 27

Includes the following:

Fitness
Fun (through Sports, Play and Games)
Field Trips (may cost extra)
Life Lessons
Reading Time
Martial Arts
A great place to ...

Bucco Couture Summer Sale on All Custom Suits, Shirts and Casual Wear

NUTLEY, NJ — Save while looking sharp! 20% off all summer wear an extra 10% savings for Military, Veterans and all first responders at Bucco Couture, 187 Franklin Avenue in Nutley, with the launch of some new products such as our tracksuit line, crushed cotton drawstring pants and jeans. 

We also carry Bugatchi and Rober Graham casual wear as well as stretch high V-neck ...

Newark Lures Amazon With $1 Billion Payroll Tax Incentive

July 14, 2018

NEWARK, NJ - Amazon will get a payroll tax break at a cost of $1 billion to the city should the company open its second headquarters in Newark, according to one of two ordinances approved by the Newark City Council council to sweeten the deal for the corporate giant and stand out among other locations vying for Amazon’s so-called HQ2.

“The City Council has brought Newark a ...

Upcoming Events

Wed, August 15, 10:00 AM

Cancer Center Resource Room, Belleville

Living Well with Parkinson’s Disease Support ...

Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_04cbbf122cf5df3a3091_festival_b

Sat, August 25, 2:00 PM

Oskar Schindler Performing Arts Center (OSPAC), West Orange

LE PIQUE NIQUE WINE & MUSIC FESTIVAL

Arts & Entertainment Giving Back

West Orange PAL Spring Travel Baseball Teams Wrap Up (Championship Team Photos Included)

The West Orange PAL Spring Travel Baseball season started with a cold front. Practices began indoors in January with teams practicing two nights a week working on conditioning and baseball fundamentals. Once the snow had melted teams began battling the cold and working outdoors, with three or four practices a week in addition to their games. 

And the hard work and dedication paid off! All ...

Public Invited to Essex County Opioid Use Prevention Task Force Meeting

July 15, 2018

CALDWELL, NJ — All Essex County residents, mayors and councils, law enforcement members, school officials, clergy members, civic organizations and more are invited to join in the next Essex County Opioid Use Prevention Task Force meeting on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. to discuss how the Essex County communities can join work together to eradicate this epidemic.

The meeting will be held at the ...

Would Shedding

How much wood wouldn’t a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck woodn’t?

 

Enough already.  

 

I get it.  It is an easy mistake to make, misusing would and wouldn’t.  It happens to me all the time.

 

“Honey, when I said I didn’t see any reason why I would go to the ballet, I meant to say I couldn’t see ...

Extra Time

It was close to 70 minutes into the match and I had to go to the bathroom.  Badly.

As fans watching the World Cup know too well, bathroom breaks are a serious dilemma, especially for those who don’t have a TV in the loo.  This biological necessity is exasperated by beer, which during World Cup matches also fuels a strong propensity to throw chairs and instigate riots.