St. Mark's Church and Cat Control Focus of Year's First Town Council Meeting

Credits: Chris Harewood
The Tuesday West Orange Township Council meeting. Credits: Chris Harewood

WEST ORANGE, NJ - The swearing in of the new Council President, updates on the fire at St. Mark’s Church, and the first reading of an ordinance that will allow cats to be managed and cared for in a controlled environment were the main topics of Tuesday’s West Orange Township Council meeting.

New Council President Sworn In

Councilman Victor Cirilo was officially sworn in as the next Town Council President. His first act as president was to commend previous president Jerry Guarino for his service.

Sign Up for E-News

“We want to thank him for his services as council president last year,” he said. Cirilo noted that Guarino had some recent health troubles, had gone to get treated and will be fine.

“We’re happy to see your smile and your energy back,” he said.

“All I can say is that it was an experience,” Guarino said in response to his health scare. “All I can recommend to everyone is to live in a hearty and healthy environment. Don’t put anything off to the last minute because it could be the difference between life and death.” 

Guarino thanked colleagues and friends for the thoughts and prayers, and said that the doctors told him he’d “be here for a very long time.”  

St. Mark’s Fire Update

The meeting then focused attention on the fire at the St. Mark’s church that took place on New Year’s Day.

Business Administrator John Sayers gave a brief update on the aftermath of the fire.

“First of all, I’d like to commend all the people in the township who responded to this unfortunate, tragic event,” he said. “I think they did an admirable job keeping it under control. Unfortunately, they couldn’t do enough to save the building.” 

Sayers said the township sent some engineers out to the site of the church to analyze it. He said that they also talked to church owners and issued them an Unsafe Structure Notice explaining that they had to bring in some people to look at the building and get it to the point where it is stabilized and safe. The owners were told they have until the middle of January to stabilize everything, and also gave the township a timeframe to have their own structural engineers come in. Sayers said that the township has yet to hear a formal recommendation on what to with the church.

The council shared sit thoughts on the incident.

“It was devastating,” said Councilman Joe Krakoviak. “It pretty much burned everything that is wood. There were six or seven different fire companies that responded and tried to put it out. It’s been a landmark in the town for nearly 200 years.”

Krakoviak also emphasized that the head of the Historical Preservation Committee will be involved in the process of deciding where to go from here.

Guarino called the burning of the building, which was constructed in 1827, a tragic loss.

“It’s a focal part of the downtown corridor,” he said. “It’s a part of our community and history.”

Guarino said he wanted to see cooperation among everyone involved so that they can do as much as they can to save, maintain, and rebuild the structure if possible. 

There was also deep concern and sadness from residents who showed up to express their feelings about the St. Mark’s church. One resident said the church is a “national treasure of incalculable historic significance.”  Another said that the future of the historic site is in the hands of the owners of the church, but also the township council, Historic Preservation Committee, and all others in any way affected by the site in some way. And, another resident said that the property is still a historic site, and therefore will need HPC approval before anything can be done to it – such as demolition. 

Feral Cats Ordinance Read

Next up, cat enthusiasts showed up in droves to support the reading of a first ordinance to permit the managed care of feral cats in the area. Cirilo commented that the Town Council is comfortable addressing the issue.

“We felt a lot of pressure because the population was getting out of control,” he said. He also said he hoped the new program will work in getting the cats vaccinated and neutered. 

“We worked hard on this,” Guarino said of the ordinance. He acknowledged the rocky start of the relationship between the TNVR (Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate, and Release) advocates and the township, which came to the point where residents threated to sue the township.

“That doesn’t get us anywhere,” he said. “When we put our heads together, we can cooperate.”

Guarino praised those who came up with a “well-put-together” presentation about the mission to help contain the cats and get training, volunteers and more.

All resolutions were approved, with resolutions J and N being pulled by Council Krakoviak, who voted no on both. More information on the resolutions can be found here.

The next Town Council meeting is scheduled for Jan. 19 at 6:30 pm. Residents are encouraged to attend.

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 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
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 ...

Upcoming Events


Thu, April 26, 5:30 PM

West Orange High School - Cafeteria, West Orange

Annual Spaghetti Dinner

Food & Drink

Sun, April 29, 3:30 PM

Codey Arena, West Orange

Girls Try Hockey Free Clinic


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


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 ...