TC votes to purchase Eagle Rock property

Photo by Amanda Valentovic
The West Orange Township Council approved a resolution to purchase 665 Eagle Rock Ave., above, which will be turned into a municipal parking lot.

WEST ORANGE, NJ — The West Orange Township Council approved a resolution that will allow the township to purchase property at 665 Eagle Rock Ave. to be eventually turned into a parking lot for shoppers. The resolution passed with a vote of 4-1, with Councilman Joe Krakoviak as the only opposing vote. The township is looking to close on the property by the end of the month, with a purchase price of $415,000.

“I think this is one of those nice-to-haves, not a must have,” Krakoviak said at the meeting, when explaining why he had voted against the resolution. He did not want to spend the money for the property and raised concerns about borrowing money as well as the property’s appraisal.

“The goal here is to address the issue of shopping parking,” township attorney Richard Trenk said at the meeting. “It’s been a major issue in Pleasantdale. The administration’s goal is to ensure that this is a shopper parking lot available and open as quickly as humanly possible.”

Krakoviak also discussed the assessed value of the property versus its appraised value, with concerns about how much the township is paying for it.

“It’s (an assessed value) for $200,000,” he said. “We got an appraisal for $460,000, so I’m a bit concerned that we’ve got that significant difference between the assessed and the appraised value.

“I’m very concerned about our debt levels,” he continued. “I think we’ve already said we’re going to borrow the money to acquire this property.”

Councilwoman Michelle Casalino said she understands Krakoviak’s concerns, but the need for a parking lot in the area is greater than the issue of borrowing money.

“We’re all concerned about our debt as we always discuss at all our meetings,” she said at the meeting. “This is a business corridor for us, and we have to make it a viable corridor for that business community. This would really help and benefit all the businesses that are there. We always have to weigh the budget versus the need of the community, but there is a strong need there.”

Councilman Jerry Guarino said turning the property into a parking lot also comes with pedestrian safety benefits, adding that having more parking would allow shoppers to cross the street less frequently.

“We spoke about this at the Pedestrian Safety Advisory Board meeting, how this would be a benefit for pedestrian foot traffic,” Guarino said at the meeting. “This will give us more parking and more foot traffic throughout the whole four corners. It will be a benefit to our merchants and to our residents.”