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

One Free Class at Cycle Bar Livingston

April 23, 2018

LIVINGSTON, NJ — Get a free ride at Cycle Bar Livingston. Livingston’s premium indoor cycling facility invites the public to sign up for their first ride free.

Click HERE to see the full class schedule.

During this week only, Cycle Bar is also participating in the Livingston Fitness Crawl, offering five days of free classes through Friday.  

Cycle Bar ...

Livingston Fitness Crawl: Five Days of Free Classes at 12 Livingston Businesses

LIVINGSTON, NJ — The public is invited to enjoy one free class at as many of Livingston’s fitness businesses as they would like during this week’s Livingston Fitness Crawl, a Livingston Business Improvement District event, beginning on April 23 and continuing through April 27.

For five days, no purchase is necessary at the following locations:

BARRE3 ...

Full Pet Grooming Service 25% OFF

LITTLE FALLS, NJ - Cloud Canine Grooming Salon & Spa in Little Falls is open for business and owner and pet stylist Melissa DiRoma is offering 25% off a FULL GROOMING SERVICE for all new customers. Call (973) 837-8884 or visit http://cloudcaninesalon.com to schedule your appointment. Mention promo code TAP DOG for discount. 

About Cloud ...

Free Wellness Event at The Joint Chiropractic

WEST CALDWELL, NJ — The public is invited to a "Wellness Event to Remember" at The Joint Chiropractic in West Caldwell on Thursday, April 19 from 7 p.m. to  9 p.m.

Guests will include:

Michael Piercy, owner of The Lab
Justyna Debski, owner of Revive Mind Body
Karen Caplan, owner of Nutrition Transitions

Join the ...

Luxury Facial Services 50% OFF

MILLBURN, NJ - DeAmour Salon & Spa is proud to announce its newest team member, Renee Rudikh, formerly of the famous Georgette Klinger Spa at the Short Hills Mall.

Rudikh has extensive experience and specializes in a plethora of facial styles including: deep pore cleansing/European, microdermabrasion with collagen, teenage, men's, back, LED and customized European ...

YMCA $0 Enrollment in April

LIVINGSTON, NJ - For the month of April, the West Essex YMCA is offer $0 enrollment. 

Take advantage of all that your local Y has to offer for the whole family!

Personal Training
Group Classes
Swimming
Camp
Childcare 
Low monthly membership
And much much more!...

Check out all that the Y has to offer HERE

About the West Essex YMCA:
The West Essex YMCA has ...

Women Need Better Treatment Behind Bars, Lawmakers Say

April 24, 2018

NEWARK, NJ - Middlesex County Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez and U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) held a roundtable discussion on Monday with criminal justice reform advocates and formally incarcerated women to discuss legislation Lopez and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle are introducing, modeled after legislation Booker introduced in the Senate, to reform the way women are treated behind ...

Letter to the Editor: Lions Club of West Orange Spaghetti Dinner

April 16, 2018

Dear Editor,

Since 1953, the Lions Club of West Orange has been recognized throughout the township for our service to the blind and visually impaired. A majority of the world’s eye banks, clinics, and eye research centers are established and supported by all Lions Clubs throughout the world.

We are men and women committed to helping provide quality eye care, eye ...

Register for the New Senior Gardening Program in West Orange

April 25, 2018

WEST ORANGE, NJ — West Orange residents 60 years or older are invited to register for a new gardening program at the Orange/West Orange UNICO Chapter Nicholas Vecchio Garden in Degnan Park.

Beginning on May 10 and continuing every Thursday afternoon, seniors will be able to prep, plant and harvest their own garden beds.

For more information or to register for this new program, ...

Lock Down Initiated After Stray Bullet Found at Morristown High School

April 24, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ -  Morristown High School was on a school-wide lock down as of 1 p.m. on Tuesday after a stray bullet was discovered on the athletic fields of the school. 

Police were on the scene and currently investigating the incident. The school initiated a "shelter in place," which means instruction continued as students stayed in their ...

Cluelessly Clueless

I teenaged my way through high school under the assumption that my parents had no idea what I was doing.  I like to think I was pretty good at withholding information and presenting situations in ways that were other than they really were.

 

Still, sometimes they found things out.  Like the time my friends plopped me on our front door step at one o'clock in the morning ...

'The Sting' shimmers and shakes at Paper Mill

‘The Sting ‘slithers and shakes at Paper Mill Playhouse

By LIZ KEILL

MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage in Millburn.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and ...