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West Orange Redevelopment Counsel to Present at Next Council Meeting

Issues with the redevelopers include delinquent taxes and the company’s financial health.

The recent drama surrounding Prism's redevelopers will come to a head on Tuesday as their redevelopment counsel will make a presentation at the council’s next meeting.

On October 30, representatives of West Orange's Redevelopment Counsel, McManimon & Scotland, as well as representatives of NW Financial, West Orange's redevelopment financial advisors, have been invited by Council President Victor Cirilo to make a presentation to the West Orange Township Council regarding Prism Green Urban Renewal Associates IV, after several councilmembers said they were disappointed with the lack of communication by the company.  The council has been asking about the possible foreclosure of the Barton Press property, the deliquency of property taxes, a request for audited financial statements, and other issues that affect West Orange residents.

"I'm concerned about the financial viability of our designated redevelopers," Councilman Joe Krakoviak said at the October 16 Township Council meeting.  "If the project is not able to move forward financially, I'd rather end this process sooner rather than later; certainly before the township issues the $6.3 million in taxpayer-backed bonds that have been approved for the project."

Prism had been delinquent on their third quarter taxes due August 1, which amount to about $113,940, according to the West Orange Tax Assessor’s Office.  They have since paid the taxes on October 10.  Prism was also late paying its first- and second-quarter tax bills this year, paying them off on July 10.

Krakoviak sent a letter to the Planning Board, asking them to address the issues with Prism's taxes.  He did not receive an answer.

“You should get a response,” Council President Victor Cirilo told Krakoviak at the meeting. “You deserve that respect as a councilperson.”

Prism was approved earlier this year to begin building a mixed residential-retail development on the site of the former Edison Battery building. 

In March, the Township Council approved two ordinances authorizing the finances for the project.  The first bond ordinances authorizes the township to issue $6.3 million in general obligation bonds to the developer to pay for infrastructure costs and places a special assessment on the property. The second approved ordinance outlines the financial agreement between the township and Prism. Under the agreement, the developer agrees to repay 50 percent of the issued bonds to the township, with interest.

Construction has not yet begun on the project.

Mark Paulson October 26, 2012 at 12:05 PM
Joe Krakoviak seems to believe that all of the problems of the redevelopment are caused by Prism. He wants to challenge everything that comes up. I appreciate the concerns that he has. However, it is not unreasonable to believe that the taxes would have been paid to date by Prism and the building process would be moving forward if Joe didn't make the process so difficult. Scrapping this project and starting over will leave us with a giant hole on main street for years to come. It has become clear that Joe will do everything in his power to block this project from ever happening. The focus on Tuesday will be towards Prism but we need to also begin to examine the motives behind Joe's objections. Does he really want answers so that the project can eventually move forward or is he constantly looking for ways to block a project that has been approved by the people who the citizens of West Orange have elected? It is time to either choose a vacant hole or a project that can make our town better. I am getting tired of the objections that Joe is constantly making.. considering that the option for stopping this project will leave the town with a giant hole for rats and crime to reside.
Ryan October 26, 2012 at 01:15 PM
There is an important factual error in this story. Prism is NOT any longer delinquent on its third-quarter taxes due to WO. It paid these on October 10 (though it is accurate that they were due August 1). This information is available via the utility linked on the township's website, and a phone call to the tax collector's office will confirm this.
wohopeful October 26, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Will they be moving this meeting to a larger venue? I'm sure there will be a crowd of townspeople, taxpayers, and media who are all interested in getting some answers from Prism.
barry_geltzeiler October 26, 2012 at 04:39 PM
meeting is 10/30 next taxes due are 11/1, lets take bets if they pay within the grace period. I say no way!!!!
Franklin Street October 26, 2012 at 04:57 PM
This is why this project should never have been giving the green light. It stinks to high heaven. Why get involved with a company that asks for taxpayer money but, then refuses to pay its tax bill? Something is rotten here. We either have incompetence, corruption or cronyism going on here. Which is it?
Gary Englert October 26, 2012 at 05:12 PM
I would opine that the glass here continues to be far more than half-full and that the prospect of a brigt future still loom before us. During the worst econonomy since the Great Depression...and during a period of time when Lehman Brothers failed and while GM and Bank of America teetered on insolvency...Prism has stayed the course, carried a +/- $60 Million non-performing investment and paid +/- $3 Million in property taxes over the last five years...while completely redeveloping the Organon tract and returning it to full taxpaying status. A couple of late quarterly tax payments and a tussle with a bank over a very convoluted loan/mortgage that substantially prohibits them from developing the (Barton Press) property, doesn't suggest Prism is incapable of completing the project. In the broad scheme of things, these are minor questions that will be addressed and for which reasonable answers will be received.
Ryan October 26, 2012 at 05:28 PM
OK, thanks for updating the story with this correction.
wohopeful October 26, 2012 at 05:47 PM
" a project that has been approved by the people who the citizens of West Orange have elected" I believe that Mr. Krakoviak was overwhelmingly re-elected by the people of West Orange and is doing exactly what they elected him to do, protect their interests. If the rest of the rubber stamps were not so quick to take orders and approve things we would have put the brakes on motnhs ago to do the research Mr. Krakoviak was suggesting be done and we wouldn't be searching for answers in the eleventh hour now. The folks who have pushed this through without due diligence and proper research are the ones responsible for the delays as we must now re-visit and re-hash details that should have been addressed months ago. Your objections are clearly misplaced.
Tom October 26, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Gary, Thank you for an accurate description the West Orange projects "Scheme"
Gary Englert October 26, 2012 at 10:37 PM
Tom: Not quite sure what "scheme" you're referring to but, my overview of Prism is indeed accurate and anyone's concerns that Edison Lofts will be anything less that a luxury rental property need only examine the approved plans: http://www.westorange.org/DocumentCenter/Home/View/342 If there's a gym/fitness center, indoor pool and all the other tenant amenities being provided in any "low income" hosuing, I'd just love to know where that is.

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