WEST ORANGE, NJ — The Economic Development Commission is being reinstated in West Orange after an absence, with the West Orange Township Council appointing its designated member at the council meeting on Tuesday, March 23.
The commission is a volunteer advisory committee that will work with the council and Mayor Robert Parisi on “issues of economic vitality, promotion and ensuring that all of the township’s business areas are vital enterprise centers,” according to the commission’s ordinance. Parisi has five appointments to the commission, the council has one and one council member will serve as a liaison. The Downtown West Orange Alliance will also have a liaison, who will be a nonvoting member of the commission.
Parisi appointed John Wayman Henry as the chairperson of the commission, along with Corey Smith and Alfred Rosu as members. The other mayoral appointments have not yet been filled. Abdur Yasin will be the council’s designee; his appointment passed with a vote of 3-2. Councilwomen Susan McCartney and Tammy Williams cast the dissenting votes.
“With regard to what’s going on on Main Street, this commission will have an integral role in those kinds of projects,” Councilman Bill Rutherford said at the meeting. “They need help down there.”
Evan Nass was also nominated to the commission as the council appointee; his nomination did not pass a council vote. Rutherford, Williams and Council President Cindy Matute-Brown voted no and Councilwoman Michelle Casalino abstained. Other nominees that were not voted on because Yasin’s nomination reached a majority were Frederick Davis and Lisa Ferrell.
McCartney and Casalino both expressed support for expanding the number of people on the commission, so the council could have more than one designee.
“Everyone does have quite impressive resumes,” McCartney said at the meeting. “They all can provide something to the commission. With the fact that people are stepping forward to want to pitch in and help, I don’t see why we need to pick and choose.”
The council decided not to table the appointment to allow for expansion, so the commission can begin meeting as soon as possible. Assistant township attorney Ken Kayser said the ordinance can be revised in the future, to allow for more membership.
“When they’re meeting, they’re meeting in public,” Kayser said at the meeting. “There’s absolutely no reason why members of the public, if they’re interested, can’t attend, speak or offer their ideas. If there are other good people who want to serve, they can certainly participate in a different manner for the time being. At some point, a decision can be made whether to expand the commission or to handle it differently. I don’t think anybody would be precluded from participating.”