WEST ORANGE, NJ — The West Orange Township Council’s adviser on the Fair Share Housing Center’s legal actions to create more affordable housing units in West Orange, Shirley Bishop, urged the council on Tuesday to pass two resolutions being considered: one endorsing an amendment to the adopted Fair Share Plan and another to amend the spending plan concerning the Affordable Housing Trust Funds.

Bishop said this will allow a Valley Road residential project with 55 affordable housing units to move forward, and to spend $3 million from the township’s Affordable Housing Trust Funds to be used towards this project. The council approved these resolutions during its meeting on Tuesday.

Joe Alpert, president of the Alpert Group, reported that while Matrix New World was performing its preliminary assessment and site investigation of the Selecto-Flush building at 18 Central Avenue in order to demolish it within environmental standards, there were two “hot spots” found. He said two contaminants were found in the base of the concrete and in the dirt.

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Alpert added that like-to-like contaminants must be tested, and that New World Matrix is investigating this situation.

“Their investigation is phase one of what needs to be done,” he said. “We might have to cap it, which would be phase two if needed…Knowing the hurdles helps the developer.”   

The meeting opened with an acknowledgement of World Autism Awareness Day, which was earlier this month. Representatives from the West Orange Public Schools, the Garden Academy and the Mount Carmel Guild, who all serve children with autism, were recognized for their service to this community.

Representing the West Orange school district was Superintendent Jeffrey Rutzky; West Orange Board of Education (WOBOE) member Irving Schwarzbaum; Dawn Ribeiro, supervisor of special education grades 6-10; Kristin Gogerty, supervisor special education grades pre-K to 5; and Connie Salimbeno, director of special services for the WOBOE.

During public comment, Mike Brick, chair of the West Orange Environmental Commission, discussed the township’s swamp eastern milkweed seed program to attract a greater population of monarch butterflies to the area.

“The monarch butterfly is an endangered species,” he said. “They only use the milkweed to propagate themselves. This is the least we can do to save the monarchs, which are beautiful. They need us, and we need them.”

In addition, Harold Ross, a Boy Scout Second Class, spoke about his initiative to collect new pajamas from throughout the community to benefit children from Wynona’s House Child Advocacy Center. This center serves children facing abuse.

“It is important for me to support kids who have had a rough start to life,” said Ross.

The deadline to donate pajamas for this drive was April 27. The next WOTC meeting will be held on May 9.

To read more about this meeting, click HERE.