West Orange Residents Express Concern About Senior Citizen Survey

Mariel Clemenson expresses her feeling that many seniors at the lower end of the income spectrum and the higher end of age spectrum were not represented accurately in the West Orange Senior Survey. Credits: Alan Grossman
Lisa Fohoury provides an update on the growing number of West Orange Public Library activities coming up this spring as the library celebrates its 70th year of operation.   Credits: Alan Grossman

WEST ORANGE, NJ – Older adult residents and West Orange Township Council members debated whether the recently completed West Orange senior citizen survey administered by Montclair State University (MSU) accurately reflects the needs of the township’s diverse senior population during Tuesday’s township council meeting.

Many of the seniors who attended the meeting expressed concern that the survey results do not reflect the reality of their lives.

“The senior survey was not geared for the disabled senior,” said resident Frank Grosso, who added that he is not among the 90 percent of seniors who indicated that they own a computer or have a family income exceeding $100,000 per year. Grosso said that he lives on a small fixed income.

Sign Up for E-News

He also complained about the transportation options that are currently offered to disabled seniors.

“I have difficulty with the town bus because the lift for wheelchairs often doesn’t work when I call,” he said. “Recently, I’ve just stopped calling for transportation because it’s been so bad.”

Resident Patricia Sigalas added that there is a need for a centrally located senior citizen center so that people without cars can get there. Most of the seniors who took the survey indicated that they had cars, and that it was easy to get around the township.

Rosary Morelli also spoke on behalf of seniors who do not own cars, stating that the lack of transportation options stops many seniors in town from “getting the healthcare they deserve.” Morelli also expressed her belief that shorter senior surveys distributed in nearby municipalities have better reflected the needs of their senior constituents.

Mariel Clemenson expressed her feeling that “many seniors were left out of the survey,” which had fewer respondents who were male, black, disabled, and at the upper end of the senior age spectrum, she said.

At the March 27 council meeting, Erin Bunger, senior research associate for MSU’s Center for Research and Evaluation on Education and Human Services, reported that 753 seniors completed the West Orange survey. She said that this represents 6 percent of individuals over 55 years of age who currently reside in West Orange (approximately twice the original goal).

Councilwoman Michelle Casalino said that she was “shocked” that Morelli was touting shorter surveys when she requested even more questions for the lengthy West Orange one.

“I feel blind-sighted by her tonight,” said Casalino, who reiterated that the survey will be a helpful vehicle in obtaining more grant funds for senior services.

Councilman Victor Cirilo said the senior income figures were likely skewed because approximately 33 percent of people who responded to the survey did not want to share their income information. Casalino said that there was a “tremendous” response from senior homeowners, which she said most likely led to the higher income figures being reported.

Councilman Jerry Guarino said that one possibility to address the need cited by the survey for the township to better communicate with the senior population would be to do a weekly or bi-weekly senior citizen program on Channel 36.

“This way the information gets out there to seniors who don’t have or utilize computers, but do watch television,” said Guarino. “We should work with the board of education to get this done. I think the students would be interested in doing this type of program.”

Casalino agreed that this was an excellent idea, but said that grant funds are needed to put on a high-quality television program that will attract senior viewership on an ongoing basis.

Councilman Joe Krakoviak said that the concerns expressed by the seniors attending the meeting shows the need to reconsider the establishment of a Senior Citizen Advisory Board.

“We need a central point of focus to serve the needs of this demographic group,” said Krakoviak. “I would like to hear from the administration about what they think of the survey results, and what actions they are taking to address the needs of seniors in West Orange. They are the ones who oversee these services, and we should hear from them at a future council meeting.”

Council President Susan McCartney said that one idea she heard at a recent meeting was to ask people who have upgraded their computers to donate their old computers to local seniors.  She said school and government offices should consider doing the same thing so that seniors in town have better access to information.

Casalino urged seniors with computers to visit to sign up for the senior e-blast and get the latest news on senior events.

The next council meeting will be held on April 24.

Don’t miss important news in your town. Click HERE to subscribe for free, or follow us on Facebook and on Twitter at @WestOrangeTAP.

To download the FREE TAPinto App, Click here for Android or Click here for iOS

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

West Orange

$100 OFF per Week for Summer Camp Now!

July 12, 2018

Guerrero Marital Arts is now offering an 8-week summer camp for summer 2018!

Pick which weeks you want!

Camp Weeks are:

July 16, July 23, July 30, August 6, August 13, August 20, August 27

Includes the following:

Fun (through Sports, Play and Games)
Field Trips (may cost extra)
Life Lessons
Reading Time
Martial Arts
A great place to ...

Bucco Couture Summer Sale on All Custom Suits, Shirts and Casual Wear

NUTLEY, NJ — Save while looking sharp! 20% off all summer wear an extra 10% savings for Military, Veterans and all first responders at Bucco Couture, 187 Franklin Avenue in Nutley, with the launch of some new products such as our tracksuit line, crushed cotton drawstring pants and jeans. 

We also carry Bugatchi and Rober Graham casual wear as well as stretch high V-neck ...

Newark Lures Amazon With $1 Billion Payroll Tax Incentive

July 14, 2018

NEWARK, NJ - Amazon will get a payroll tax break at a cost of $1 billion to the city should the company open its second headquarters in Newark, according to one of two ordinances approved by the Newark City Council council to sweeten the deal for the corporate giant and stand out among other locations vying for Amazon’s so-called HQ2.

“The City Council has brought Newark a ...

Upcoming Events

Wed, August 15, 10:00 AM

Cancer Center Resource Room, Belleville

Living Well with Parkinson’s Disease Support ...

Health & Wellness


Sat, August 25, 2:00 PM

Oskar Schindler Performing Arts Center (OSPAC), West Orange


Arts & Entertainment Giving Back

West Orange PAL Spring Travel Baseball Teams Wrap Up (Championship Team Photos Included)

The West Orange PAL Spring Travel Baseball season started with a cold front. Practices began indoors in January with teams practicing two nights a week working on conditioning and baseball fundamentals. Once the snow had melted teams began battling the cold and working outdoors, with three or four practices a week in addition to their games. 

And the hard work and dedication paid off! All ...

Public Invited to Essex County Opioid Use Prevention Task Force Meeting

July 15, 2018

CALDWELL, NJ — All Essex County residents, mayors and councils, law enforcement members, school officials, clergy members, civic organizations and more are invited to join in the next Essex County Opioid Use Prevention Task Force meeting on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. to discuss how the Essex County communities can join work together to eradicate this epidemic.

The meeting will be held at the ...

Would Shedding

How much wood wouldn’t a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck woodn’t?


Enough already.  


I get it.  It is an easy mistake to make, misusing would and wouldn’t.  It happens to me all the time.


“Honey, when I said I didn’t see any reason why I would go to the ballet, I meant to say I couldn’t see ...