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West Orange’s Unruly Taxpayers

From yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:

The Thomas Edison battery building in West Orange, N.J., once hummed with life as a manufacturing plant for batteries for various industries as part of a laboratory complex where Edison, the great inventor, worked.

Today, the decaying building—with its stained walls and peeling paint around its large windows—is the hub of a planned $230 million redevelopment to create stylish loft-style apartments, townhouses and retail space. The area is at Main Street and Lakeside Avenue and is adjacent to the Thomas Edison National Historical Park, which includes the Edison laboratory. It is also close to Llewellyn Park, a historic gated community full of grand mansions, including Edison’s Glenmont manor

Dubbed Edison Village, the proposed 21-acre mixed-use project was halted by the 2008 financial crisis. Officials in the Essex County township and the redevelopment firm it selected in 2006 for the project, Prism Capital Partners of nearby Bloomfield, plan to resume work but first they must await the outcome of a lawsuit brought by five West Orange residents.

“We are challenging because we feel it’s not fair to taxpayers of West Orange to subsidize a private developer. We felt it wasn’t fair,” said Windale Simpson, one of the residents who filed the suit.

The case now is pending before the state Supreme Court. At issue is a $6.3 million bond issue that the township plans to fund infrastructure upgrades for Edison Village.

The residents involved in the suit had originally tried to block the bond issue by collecting signatures in a bid to call for a referendum on the financing, but the effort failed.  (The town argued that under redevelopment law the bond was immune to petitions.  Sounds familiar.  Story on that here.)  They then filed a lawsuit in 2012 against the township challenging the township’s approval of the bond ordinance because they said the measure wasn’t vetted by the Local Finance Board of the state’s Department of Community Affairs, which oversees the financial actions of municipalities.  (That’s a joke.)

Local officials say they are confident that the project will proceed, even if the state’s highest court rules in favor of the suit. Mayor Robert D. Parisi said the township had already gone before the Local Finance Board during various steps in the run-up to the bond ordinance. If the court decides in favor of the residents, the township could go before the board again to get the necessary approval on the bond, he said.

“These buildings could use a face-lift. It was our hope to make this into a more viable neighborhood,” said Mayor Parisi.


Obviously these people are enemies of West Orange.


  1. Teddy Ehmann wrote:

    Bill is that you?
    Yes, Bayonne redevelopment attorney and per our Mayor’s Belmar’s “premier redevelopment attorney” William Northgrave is representing W.Orange against petitioners. Going to NJ Supreme Court. Let us hope the residents have our luck.

    Sunday, May 25, 2014 at 9:48 am | Permalink
  2. Teddy Ehmann wrote:

    Recently I was surfing You-Tube and found a video of Bill Clinton with Christie. This Q & A about Hurricane Sandy, proves definitively that our governor is a total Progressive.

    Sunday, May 25, 2014 at 9:52 am | Permalink
  3. joegoofinoff wrote:

    The whole idea of the RINO, Christie was to make sure Steve Lonegan didn’t get anywhere near the governors mansion.

    Sunday, May 25, 2014 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

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