WEST ORANGE, NJ - A new Town Council President was announced and the Downtown Alliance reviewed its year as well as future plans at Tuesday's West Orange Town Council Meeting.
During the meeting, the West Orange Town Council voted on who would replace Jerry Guarino next year as Council President. Guarino and Councilwoman Susan McCartney nominated Councilman Victor Cirilo for the position. Councilman Joe Krakoviak nominated himself.
“I have served on the council for six years," Krakoviak said. "I’m the longest serving council person that has not been council president. I believe I will do a good job.”
Ultimately, Guarino and McCartney along with Councilwoman Casalino voted on Cirilo as the next president.
Cirilo then thanked Guarino for his service and presented him with a plaque on behalf of the council.
“I’d like to thank Jerry for his leadership this year,” he said. “One thing that always sticks out about Jerry is that he’s a very positive person. No matter the situation—he always sees the positive.”
Cirilo asked Guarino what he was most proud of during his service as president, and he said it was the birth of the Pedestrian Safety Advisory Board, and also his time working with the Downtown Alliance.
“You helped us come together as best as you could, and helped us address policy issues,” Cirilo said to Guarino.
Guarino was gracious in his acceptance of the plaque.
“This is a very humbling experience,” he said. “I just would like to thank my colleagues. It’s been an education, an honor, and a privilege to be a public servant to the residents of West Orange.”
Guarino also thanked administration, the mayor, and his DTA friends. When speaking of his work with the Pedestrian Safety Advisory Board, he took pride in them “making real change through teaming up with Rutgers to present new street concepts to make the town safer,” adding that it was through that ordinance to start the board that they were able to get the grant to start the plans. Lastly, Guarino thanked his wife and children for supporting his endeavors.
All council members decided to resume their old jobs as liaisons for the next year. A new liaison position, Public Relations Commission, was given to new council member Michelle Casalino.
Downtown Alliance Executive Director Megan Brill then gave a budget submission, year in review, and future plans presentation. In her review of things accomplished this year, Brill said that they came in $1,700 under the anticipated budget. They overspent on Marketing and Promotions, but underspent on Visual Design. They saw capital improvements, fundraising efforts including the Street Fair and 5k run, more community involvement, strategic development, corridor visibility, and productive partnerships all under the 2015 year.
The budget for the 2016 year will be $207,000, a $15,000 increase from 2015. This income will comprise $105,000 from property assessment, $68,000 from township contribution, $1,721 carried over from the previous year, $8,000 from the previous year’s events, $25,000 in new fundraising for next year, and $26,000 in reserve funds. Other differences include increases to Administrative Office and Marketing/Promotion and decreases in Design and Visual Improvements.
An increase of $5,000 will go to the Executive Director, $1,000 to an additional summer intern and office staff help, the transferring of Joe Fagan from Economics to Marketing/Promotions and a $3,000 increase of his salary, and more.
According to Brill, next year’s top priorities for the DTA are business recruitment, marketing and promotion.
In other news, West Orange resident Tammy Williams spoke about an event taking place at the West Orange Library on Feb. 5 at 12 p.m. to recognize the birthday place of the township’s own, Anna Easter Brown. Brown, who lived in the Mt. Pleasant area, graduated with honors from West Orange High School and attended Howard University. Brown then went on to start the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority—the first of its kind developed by an African American women. To honor Brown, a marker will be erected in West Orange.
Also during the meeting, The West Orange PAL Mustangs, which were named the 2015 Hudson County Youth Football League Middleweight Championship (12U) Champions, were honored for their accomplishments. The team was 10-0 this season and won the HCYFL on Nov. 21 against North Bergen, 27-0.
It was also announced that Turtle Black Zoo welcomed 700,000 visitors this year—the largest number in a single year in the zoo’s history.
No resolutions were pulled during this meeting.
The next Town Council Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 6. The public is invited to attend.