Orange mayor has public report on YWCA purchase

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Photo by Chris Sykes Orange Mayor Dwayne Warren, left, listens to questions from the audience on Monday, Nov. 9, at his Public Report meeting on the deal to purchase the old YWCA building on Main Street as Planning Department and Public Works Department Director Marty Mayes, right, observes.

ORANGE, NJ — Orange Mayor Dwayne Warren ended a meeting on Monday, Nov. 9, in Council Chambers regarding the status of the proposed new recreation center with a promise to hold another discussion on the same topic Monday, Nov. 16.
The proposed center involves the purchase and conversion of the old YWCA building on Main Street.

“It was high time to have a public meeting to address the public about the proposed project to have Orange’s own recreation, education and cultural center,” Warren said Monday, Nov. 9.

“We raised the money in an alternative fashion through an appropriation. We got legislative grants and aid of $2.5 million. We’ll use that to acquire and rehabilitate the Y and set forth a plan for programming that will sustain the Y.”

Warren said he heard from citizens “about this fundamental need to have a place of our own where we can come back, we can reconnect, we can have recreation, we can have education, but it’s our place our center.”

But some who attended this meeting, such as at large Councilwoman Donna K. Williams, former Council President Bill Lewis and Bruce Meyer of the Citizens Budget Advisory Committee said they would like to have more hard facts about the proposed YWCA deal before the council approves it.

Therefore, Council President April Gaunt-Butler said Warren agreed to another public meeting at a later date about the deal.
Gaunt-Butler is a former member of the YWCA Board of Directors and said she would love to see its return to the lives of Orange residents.

But Gaunt-Butler also said she understands why city taxpayers, especially the senior citizens who comprised the majority of the audience on Monday, Nov. 9, along with West Ward Councilman Harold L. Johnson and East Ward Councilman Kerry Coley, are concerned about the lack of public awareness of all the deal’s details to date.

“The mayor held a public report meeting tonight on the possibilities of the YWCA building and turning it into the Orange Recreation Center and so he got a lot of people out from the public to present some information first, but also hear their perspective on how they felt about a possible project with the Y,” Gaunt-Butler said Monday, Nov. 9.

“I heard very interesting commentary on both sides of the issue. We are looking forward to the mayor and his team coming before the Orange City Council and making a presentation and getting a chance and an opportunity to ask the questions that we want to hear especially with regard to their programs and the sustainability of the project. So we’re looking forward to him coming to City Council.”

Gaunt-Butler said Warren was originally scheduled to appear at the council meeting Tuesday, Dec. 1, but wanted to meet sooner.

“He’s actually asking for us to reconsider that and possibly come on Nov. 16, which I believe is next Monday,” Gaunt-Butler said.

“He wants to move the date up, so we’ll see how that works out. We’ll have to have the discussion first, because certainly I’d like as many people from the public to come. So we need to make a decision either way.”