Residents Pack Council Chambers to Voice Public Library Concerns

A father and daughter speak on the West Orange Public Library. Credits: Chris Harewood
West Orange resident speaks about the West Orange Public Library. Credits: Chris Harewood
West Orange Township Council  Credits: Chris Harewood

WEST ORANGE, NJ - Residents expressed their views on the importance of West Orange’s Public Library, just days before the town’s budget hearing that is set for March 12, at Tuesday’s Township Council meeting.

In what was one of the most packed crowds the municipal chambers had seen in years, West Orange residents came up to the podium in droves to offer their opinions on what needs to be done with the library. With word of the budget being reduced in regard to the public library, the general theme of most residents’ speeches was to maintain, if not improve, the library, rather than to take away from it.

Before allowing public comment, Council President Victor Cirilo reminded residents of the process that goes into the budget hearing.

Sign Up for E-News

 “Administration provides us with a proposed budget,” he said. “The town council assesses that budget and makes recommendations, and the process moves forward.”

Cirilo added that the township is required to fund a library every year by state law, but said a reduced budget allocated toward the library may lead to reductions in the facilities including the elimination of part-time jobs and the cutting back of Sunday hours from 6 hours to 4 hours.

Cirilo also acknowledged the many improvements the library needs such as bathroom renovations, the fixing of the leaking roof, and more.

Margaret O’Hara, a resident of West Orange for 43 years, spoke about what the library meant to her.

“We raised our sons here, and they were active attendees in all the summer programs at the library,” she said. 

O’Hara defined the library as “an antidote of ignorance” and asked the township not to diminish it or its services.

One mother of twin girls said that the library is “an oasis” that works as an alternative to children constantly being “screen-fed” information through the world’s rapidly growing technology. 

Another resident, whose daughter splits time between West Orange and Livingston, spoke openly about how although Livingston has a much smaller population, he views it to have a “superior” library facility. He called the West Orange library a place that should be made a focal point of the township.

A particularly impassioned West Orange High School student was open about library’s impact on her life.

“When I moved to West Orange five years ago, I didn’t know anyone here, so I mainly kept to myself,” she said. She added that it was through this isolation that she discovered the library and became a frequent visitor. “There’s no knowledge if you don’t have books,” she said. “They’re the most important thing.”

Other residents spoke about the library’s value as a low-cost activity for children to enjoy, while a senior citizen spoke about how the library was her way of having access to a computer and DVDs she can rent for free.

In one of the most crowd-moving speeches, a resident spoke about the underprivileged who “seek the library as an opportunity for free information,” and warned that without libraries, “the United States would become like Third World Countries.”

Mayor Robert Parisi, who was in attendance for the meeting, made clear the difficult situation he and the township officials are in.

“Be careful what you wish for when you want to be an elected official, because this is what makes it hard,” he said. “Of course the library is a part of our town. The problem is so is our police, recreation, health, department, and fire department.”

Parisi said that a lack of money is the main issue with this year’s budget, which has to have budget cuts in various departments. He pointed out that, despite 70 jobs being cut since 2006, taxes continue to rise.

Parisi, who has a degree in literature, also acknowledged the importance of libraries.   

“The library is a priority, but the township has a lot of priorities,” he said. “We have to operate within the means of the dollars they have.”

However, the mayor said he didn’t believe all hope was lost.

“We’re looking forward over the next couple of months to work with the council and see if we can resolve this, and get some additional funding,” he said.

Councilman Jerry Guarino said that he and all of his colleagues value the library.

“It isn’t a ‘step child’ to us,” he said, before acknowledging that there would be some tough calls to make at the hearing. Guarino encouraged residents to attend the budget meeting so they could get an idea of the process.

Despite saying she’d been an advocate for the library for quite some time, Councilwoman Susan McCartney explained the ramifications of increasing library funding.

“If we were to extend the funding for the library, we’re looking at additional tax dollars,” she said.

The budget hearing will be taking place on Saturday, March 12 at 9 a.m. in Town Hall’s Council Chamber.

In other news, all resolutions were passed at the meeting, with 73-16, 74-16, and 79-16 all being pulled by Councilman Joe Krakoviak, who voted, “No.” on 73-16 and 79-16. More information on what the resolutions entailed can be found HERE.

The next Township Council meeting is scheduled for March 22 at 6:30 p.m. Residents are encouraged to attend.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

West Orange

Free Flavors Soft Serve Ice Cream (Jr. Cup or Cone) With Coupon

May 23, 2018

Fairfield, NJ - Flavors Homemade Ice Cream is offering a FREE soft serve ice cream (jr. cup or cone) when you spend $10 or more with coupon.

Flavors Homemade Is located at 653 Rt 46 West (1.98 mi) in Fairfield, New Jersey 07004 next to Jose Tejas.

*Homemade Ice Cream

*Italian Ice


*Fresh waffles 

*ice ...

Evolve Cycle And Fitness Presale Happening Now!

CALDWELL, NJ - Evolve Cycle and Fitness is now offering 10 classes for only $90. That’s only $9 a class when you purchase before its official Grand Opening on Friday, June 1, 2018. 

Only two weeks left to take advantage of this limited time offer! Call Martha at 973-979-5919 or click here to sign up.

Evolve Cycle and Fitness is a Premier Fitness Boutique ...

Montclair HS Student Reported Sexual Assault in All-Gender Bathroom, Officials Say

May 17, 2018

MONTCLAIR, NJ - According to published reports on Wednesday, Montclair Police officials are investigating allegations of sexual assault reported to have occurred in a bathroom at Montclair High School.

Montclair police officials state that officers received a report about an incident at the high school of a sexual nature that occurred around 3:18 p.m. on Monday. The ...

Upcoming Events


Mon, May 28, 10:00 AM

Township Hall, West Orange

2018 Memorial Day Observance

Community Calendar


Mon, May 28, 8:00 PM

West Orange High School, West Orange

Board of Education Meeting

Community Calendar Education


Tue, May 29

Essex County

Primary – Vote by Mail deadline

Clarifying Points Made in Article About WOHS Air Quality Issues

May 14, 2018

Dear Editor, 

I am the advisor to West Orange High School's student newspaper, The Pioneer. My Editor-in-Chief, Anna Favetta, is the student who researched the topic and wrote the article bringing this issue to light. She worked on the article for 4 months before she had adequate and proper information for it to go to print. 

An article on the BOE presentation of the ...

What It Means to Me - A Baseball Story

We are all in amazement of the dedication and talent of our young West Orange athletes. One of the goals of our youth sports programs is to develop our players so they are ready for high school and are prepared for success at that next level of play. Throughout the course of the year we will be featuring some of our talented young athletes and coaches. This week we have the perspective of ...

West Orange On Three!

The spring season is in full swing, and we are excited to debut this new column focusing on all things youth sports!  We thought we would kick things off with an overview of the programs West Orange has to offer, and then go behind the scenes to see what makes youth sports tick.

West Orange Police Athletic League (PAL) and Mountain Top League (MTL), together with the West Orange ...

Summer 2018 Events at the West Orange Public Library

May 15, 2018

WEST ORANGE, NJ — Beginning in June, the West Orange Public Library will offer the following events for area residents of all ages:

Dinosaurs’ Rock!                                             

Monday, June 11, 4:00 p.m.

Field Station Dinosaur visits with the ...

10-Year-Old Cancer Patient Receives Donation from Randolph Hockey Family

May 21, 2018

RANDOLPH, NJ — While the inter-town hockey battles on the ice between Randolph and Roxbury are fierce at every age level, when it comes to real-life battles off the ice, there is no hesitation to offer help to their neighbor.

Such is the case with a recent gesture of unity and support from the members of the Randolph varsity hockey team, when they came together to ...

A Royal Pain

I went to a big wedding over the weekend.  It was in England.

I like to think I was invited, but according to the Royal Guards and the Thames Valley Police I was not.  But more about that later.

You see, not too long ago I received an evite addressed to me from H&  Curiously, it was in my spam folder with a warning message. For an evite it was pretty ...

'Turning Off the Morning News' brings comic twist

‘Turning Off the Morning News’ tackles today’s issues with a comic twist

By Liz Keill

PRINCETON, N J – Despite the late night comics, no one quite captures the insanity of the political/social status world like Christopher Durang.

His latest play, “Turning off the Morning News” hit the ground running.  John Pankow as Jimmy addresses the audience, ...

'To Kill a Mockingbird' Sustains Timeless Appeal

SUMMIT, NJ – The Summit Playhouse provides a stellar production of a much loved classic, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

The Harper Lee novel, later a Gregory Peck film and now a stage production, retains all the warmth, intensity and integrity that made it such an appealing hit in the 1960s. And there will be a new production on Broadway in December with a script by Aaron Sorkin ...