Prism Still Hot Topic at West Orange Council Meeting
Township Council gets some answers, but questions remain on project.
Prism was approved earlier this year to begin building a mixed residential-retail development on the site of the former Edison Battery building.
Representatives of West Orange's Redevelopment Counsel, McManimon, Scotland and Baumann, LLC, and NW Financial, West Orange's redevelopment financial advisors, were on hand to provide an update on the project to the council and answer questions.
One major concern addressed was the possible foreclosure by Wells Fargo. The council learned Tuesday the foreclosure was dismissed.
The council was also told escrow accounts are up to date and Prism was researching whether to take advantage of a Historical Tax Credit, which would affect whether the project would be for-rent or for-sale, as part of their financing strategy.
The major bone of contention with Prism was in their slowness in responding to the township administration’s requests for updates on their finances.
Council President Victor Cirilo said since it was taking Prism so long to provide their audited 2011 financial statements, requested in October, he would like the Redevelopment Counsel reps to ask Prism to provide unaudited drafts in the meantime.
Councilman Jerry Guarino said, "I am frustrated with Prism," adding, "Facts are important when making decisions."
The Redevelopment Counsel reported four major lending institutions have expressed interest in underwriting the project. They said they are cautiously optimistic because on the macro level, this interest from large-scale institutions in financing large development projects shows the market is improving.
It was also determined, just like any property owner, Prism is responsible for maintaining the aesthetics of its property and action will be taken to request they manage the tarps and debris objected to by the local community.
Lastly, the council discussed having the Redevelopment Counsel provide regular updates on the project.
In the public meeting, the council:
■ Adopted a discharge of mortgage at 131 Franklin Ave.
■ Authorizing a net decrease of $14,042.15, from the original contract amount of the project “Mayfair District Sanitary Sewer Improvements” contract no. 3A, resulting in a 2.25% decrease.
■ Authorized a contract with SOR Consulting Engineers, Inc., of Cedar Grove for $4,900, for the investigation of soil at four (4) light pole locations at West Orange High School football field and track.
■ Authorized raffle licenses.
■ After a brief explanation by a representative, the council unanimously showed its support for Essex County’s proposal to improve the fields in the Turtle Back Rock area.
■ Authorized the collector of taxes to rebate payment to the listed taxpayer pursuant to final judgment, by the Essex County Board of Taxation.
■ Authorizing execution of the Garden State Municipal JIF Risk Management Consultant’s Agreement, for the period of one (1) year beginning Jan. 1, 2013 to Dec. 31, 2013.
■ Authorized the township West Orange to enter into three inter-local services agreements, with the Board of Education, in connection with the improvements to the West Orange High School Athletic Complex.
■ Authorized an agreement with Bourne, Noll and Kenyan, of Summit, for non-commercial real estate tax appeal services, for a flat fee of $2,750 per month, for one (1) year totaling $33,000.
■ Authorized a professional services contract, for the re-construction of the wading pool, at Ginny Duenkel Pool/Colgate Field.
The board then went into an executive session to discuss personnel matters and potential litigation matters.