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West Orange, NJ 07052

Environment & Resident Advocacy Organization

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Freeholder President responds to community

Freeholder President Brendan Gill has issued the following statement in response to community concerns regarding proposed construction and expansion at Turtle Back Zoo:


$600,000 for "design services" of the proposed Turtle Back Zoo Amphitheater?

People who care about the South Mountain Reservation SAY NO to the Turtle Back Zoo overdevelopment of the Reservation. $600K of our OPEN SPACE TRUST FUND MONEY has been approved for the design of a 500-1000 person amphitheater in South Mountain Reservation. Gov. Phil Murphy has frozen the additional $4 million County Executive DiVincenzo is requesting for building the aquatic-circus structure.

Next Essex County Freeholder Meeting is on Thursday, July 25, 2019 @ Livingston Town Hall, Livingston, NJ

Patch Article, by Eric Kiefer

What was not reported in the Patch article...

As reported by Essex County resident Judith Rosenthal, esq. (who was in attendance at both the Essex County Open Space Advisory Board, and the Essex County Freeholders meetings, July 8 & 10, 2019):

  • THERE ALREADY IS AN AMPHITHEATER. Why do we need a second one?
  • There already is a brand new EDUCATIONAL CENTER at the Zoo. If the goal is to educate children about animals, the facility already exists to accomplish that.
  • French & Parillo (which was awarded a $600,000 contract over objections from dozens of members of the public lasting more than an hour), contributed $5,000 to DiVincenzo's campaign. However, the documents supplied by the County to one of the members of the public failed to disclose this fact. She uncovered it through other channels and presented this somewhat embarassing fact at the hearing.
  • Two days before the vote, the County Open Space Committee held a meeting that was also attended by 13 members of the public. The Committee took a vote to approve the above expenditure, but refused to hear from the public prior to voting.
  • At Wednesday night's Freeholder's meeting, at least 20 people spoke out against the project, citing traffic concerns, contribution to climate change from cutting down acres of trees to build an amphitheatre, objecting to using Open Space Funds to eliminate open space by building an amphitheatre, the liklihood of more flooding by elimination of open space, and the sheer beauty, respite and enjoyment of the forest.
  • Leonard Luciano, who represents Millburn & West Orange, took a few minutes away from his non-stop texting during the meeting to tout the educational benefits of parading zoo animals in front of hundreds of children and to support his point, recalled his days as an "educator." This is a material misstatement. His Freeholder web page reveals he was a "Library Media Specialist" with a degree in Humanities (not science) who thereafter went on to hold a position in the Teacher's Union. When confronted with this at the meeting, Mr. Luciano had no response.
  • Freeholder Cooper was the only member to ask intelligent questions challenging the need for an amphitheater (she represents District 3). She abstained from voting "yes" for the expenditures. 
  • Except for Cooper, your Freeholders have no concern for how members of the public feel. They have one constituent: Joseph DiVincenzo. At this point, it is clear that speaking up is a useless exercise. We must vote most of the Freeholders and the County Executive out of office. The communities most affected by Zoo expansion, and their Freeholders are as follows:
    Millburn & West Orange: Luciano
    Maplewood: Wayne Richardson
    At Large: Patricia Siebold (votes with DiVincenzo 99.9% of the time)
    At Large: Rufus Johnson (votes with DiVincenzo 99.9% of the time).
    These are the 4 that need to be targeted in the next election. Our mouths can't do it, but our fingers can (at the ballot box)!"

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Township Targets neighborhood trees for removal


If you see markings like these on WO trees...

Our Township Forester eludes to the township not having enough money to trim, prune, and save our town's giant residents. Instead, the township is resorting to completely removing these trees. Some may pose a danger because of dead limbs, while others may be lifting sidewalks, growing amongst power lines, or disturbing street curbs. There are many ways to resolve these issues that do not include total destruction of our canopies and historic trees. If the tree is not viable, then by all means it should be removed.


Neighborhoods in West Orange are Losing Trees

Touring West Orange streets, marking on dozens of trees can be seen. These two trees are on the Township's destruction list. (Which will be made available here on this site ASAP.) The tree on the left is indeed not viable, and should be removed. The tree on the right is healthy, thriving, and adds value to the properties on the street. [Location is across from West Orange High School, on Greenwood Avenue.]


Visiting the Trees Helps Understand the Loss

An OGWO member and town resident visits neighborhood trees marked for removal. OGWO knocked on doors, informing residents of the trees marked for removal on their street. Residents should contact the township forester to express their concern, and urge the township to save these trees. Contact John Linson, Forester@WestOrange.org, or call 973-325-4015. We have the budget to cut these trees, we must have the budget to prune and save them!


Woodland Ave Tree Removal


OGWO responded to a home on Woodland Ave., Friday, May 10, 2019 to document and question why 11 healthy trees were being cut. There were no tree removal permits issued.

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150 FREE Trees Handed Out


OGWO and an enviro-passionate  Roosevelt Middle student handed out and planted 150 trees for free to West Orange seniors & interested residents.

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Essex Green Shopping Ctr

Lauren Holden of Clarion presents plans for Essex Green Shopping Center.

West Orange residents continue to advocate for a sustainable, green, & safe Essex Green Shopping Center, despite the majority Township Council and administration siding with the wealthy developer, Clarion Partners, LLP. Up next Executive Drive.

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WO Library Blighted?

Bird's Eye view of the West Orange Public Library.

The township of West Orange yet again designates a town property as "blighted," essentially handing another wealthy developer potential BIG tax abatements for residents to pay. The WO Public Library is the latest blighted area.

 Read the report 

Rock Spring Country Club

Bird's eye view of Rock Spring Country Club

West Orange residents are the new owners of Rock Spring Country Club, located at 90 Rock Spring Rd. 138-acres for  $12 million. Help fellow residents keep their eye on how well the Mayor follows through with his "gentleman's agreement" that the property will not be developed more than the 15-acres he has promised.

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Earn good karma!

OGWO seeks graphic designers, illustrators, writers, PTA Reps, & social media posters. Have a skill we didn’t mention above? Email us!

Karma 4 U

Partners in Advocacy


So many organizations in WO that OGWO supports & partners with. Join us! Join them!  Be part of the solution!

Town Groups



OGWO is proud to highlight videos that help educate others about what is happening in West Orange. Pop some corn, find a friend, and visit our videos page!

video link

What's With WO Taxes?


What's up with WO Taxes & the Mayor's proposed 2019 Budget? How will it effect you?

Taxes & Budget

Badabing: Family Ties


Curious about the WO power structure? How do the dots connect in West Orange?

family ties

Petitions 'n Polls


Advocate for change. Petitions to help West Orange grow & flourish.

Speak your voice



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We are dedicated to improving the lives of those in our community, including our local wildlife and trees! Your contribution today helps to make a difference. Our 501(c)3 status is pending, but should be all set in time for your 2019 taxes! Thank you!

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Our Green West Orange

West Orange, NJ 07052, US