Eager to promote West Orange and change what officials cite as an internal "self-image" problem, the township council voted Tuesday to approve three resolutions that would contract with four companies to help market the community for one year.
The resolutions, limiting total marketing expenditures to roughly $30,000, were approved by a 3-1 vote. The approval came, though, after wrangling between township officials, the public and the vendors. Councilman Joe Krakoviak staunchly voted "no" across the board; Councilman Victor Cirilo recused himself from the vote for personal reasons.
"We're putting the cart and the horse on the same starting line," said Krakoviak, adding that the plan would not lead the township in the right direction. "We're hiring four different vendors to work with us … I'm in support of hiring one good firm that would present a marketing plan."
"If you start off badly, you're going to finish even worse," he said.
Jessica Glicker, public information officer for the township and project manager for the marketing campaign, said the administration was trying to be "as conservative as possible."
"We took a wide angle view to deliver the greatest value for low cost," she said. "Everyone needs to know West Orange is a great place to live and raise your children."
Mayor Robert Parisi also came out in full support of the resolutions. Admitting marketing was not his area of expertise, Parisi said the plan was to "start small and go slow."
"Marketing for 365 days isn't going to market the town," he said, adding, "let's take a few small steps forward and then we'll re-examine." He said the administration will likely come back for more money but "we won't until we understand our successes," he said.
The first resolution gave Millennium Strategies and Catania Consulting Group the green light to work together to attract new businesses to the area and focus on external marketing, limiting spending at $15,000 for a one year period.
"I think this marketing plan is long overdue, it's about promoting the town," said Councilwoman Patty Spango. "You have to spend money to promote this town."
Councilwoman Susan McCartney also backed what she called a "bare-bones" marketing plan.
West Orange resident Clare Silvestri, though, disagreed.
"You're approving money to do half the job," said Silvestri. She said the approved resolutions would later incur further costs to the township. "It's a bad business practice to commit this kind of expense without a substantive marketing plan."
"There are plenty of ways to do marking without spending a lot of money. Affordability is one of our issues and we should be careful about spending on marketing," she said.