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West Orange Town Council Passes Resolutions For Improvements At West Orange High School; Town Attorneys Provide Prism Update

Cynthia Cumming

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 • 1:31am

WEST ORANGE, NJ - The Jan. 22 council meeting provided updates on the Prism Redevelopment Project and votes on several resolutions.

Glenn Scotland and Jennifer Credidio of McManimon and Scotland, attorneys for the township in the Prism Redevlopment Project, advised the council that:

1. The Barton Press foreclosure filed against Prism by Wells Fargo Bank has been dismissed. Prism assumed the purchase note and the mortgage was discharged. Credidio said a search of the Judiciary Data Base provided the docket number of the case which was filed on Jan. 8, but did not yet have a copy. 

2.  Escrow and taxes are current on the property.

3.  Prism advised the town attorneys that in the process of securing financing for the project, Bank of America and PNC Bank, among others, have expressed interest.

4.  The current condition of the property needs maintenance and that will be pursued by the township.

5.  The original request for audited financial statements has not been completely met, and the town council still requires them, whether they be audited or unaudited. Prism has promised the attorneys that they are forthcoming, hopefully within the next week.

A lengthy discussion ensued regarding the need for a Certificate of Appropriateness from the West Orange Historic Preservation Commission. Commission member Gerald Gurland told the council they have not heard from Prism, though the town attorneys advised Prism has been in contact with the State Historic Preservation Office in Trenton, which also upholds Federal registry standards.

Prism is considering whether or not to utilize an Historic Tax Credit Application, which requires rental status for five years. They may decide to forgo the tax credit in order to be able to rent and sell units. Concerns were raised as to whether Prism would try to flip the property, and the attorneys advised that they could not do so without the Certificate of Completion and approval of the town council.

An update on the referendum appeal (after dismissal, residents filed an appeal to require a referendum vote on $6.2 million in bonds for the redevelopment project) noted that the township had filed a response to the Appellate Court on Jan. 7 and were awaiting a response. Prism's escrow account, and not taxpayer dollars, are being used to offset legal costs. The attorneys said that the lawsuit/appeal would only affect financing of the project.

The council also wants a monthly update on the progress.  

Councilman Joe Krakoviak said that the town should push Prism to hold them to their agreement. He said he was "in the minority" in comparison with the rest of the council regarding his interpretation of the facts with Prism, and said that facts must be looked at over what Prism says. He felt that Prism was in default of the township's Demand Letter from October, 2012.

Sue McCartney, Jerry Guarino, Patty Spango, and Victor Cirilo expressed frustration over the delay in receiving all information and wanted to be kept updated on developments.

The Department of Environmental Protection has confirmed that there are two more remediation issues for Prism to address, but that until the use of heavy equipment to address it is allowable, it is still pending.

In other business, the council passed several resolutions. Please click on the "Agenda" link to view the agenda and pull up the specifics of each item.

The council passed the following resolutions on the Agenda without discussion: 

A, B, D, E, and J.

The council passed the following resolution on the agenda with discussion, unanimously:

L.

The council passed the following resolutions on the agenda with discussion, and 4-1, with Krakoviak the dissenting vote in each:

C.  Authorizing Execution of the Garden State Municipal JIF Risk Management Consultant's Agreement for one year. Jack Sayers, Town Administrator, explained that they wished to retain Fairview Associates because they provided for all their insurance needs.  

F.  Resolution of the Shared Services agreement with the West Orange Board of Education to returf Lincoln Field; install lights in Soriano Stadium, and build a concession stand. (Monies coming out of capital outlays already paid for).

I.  Retention of Edwin R. Matthews, Esq., to handle township tax appeals. (Current attorney no longer available). Matthews was the attorney for the township of South Orange and has 14 years experience.

K. Approval of a Service Contract with Integrated Aquatic Services in the amount of $12,800 to help redesign the Wading Pool at the Ginny Duenkel Pool.  Bill Kehoe, Rec Director, explained that the total cost of 100-120K would also come from the capital outlay leftover monies.  He said that pool membership was about 700 last year, and John Gross, CFO, said that improvements would pay for themselves with an increase of 40 members per year. cCartney said that it would draw more families with young children to the pool and be an asset to the townshp.

The council then went into executive session to discuss items G and H.

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