Village candidates strive for better relationship with Hall
The University hosted a South Orange Municipal debate for the Village Board of Trustees and candidates for Village President Tuesday, in which issues concerning South Orange and Seton Hall were addressed.
Presidential candidates Alex Torpey and Janine Bauer answered several prepared questions and audience questions after the current trustees Deborah Davis Ford, Mark Rosner and Howard Levison spoke.
“Seton Hall is a vital part of South Orange,” Davis Ford, who represents Bauer’s Pure Progress Team, said. “We have a symbiotic relationship.”
In order to decrease crime ,Torpey said, they need to increase bike and foot patrols, lighting, neighborhood watch, surveillance downtown and electronic ticketing.
Bauer proposed assessing the areas that need improvement based on burglaries and related deaths that happen in specific areas. She also said maintaining the 42 police dispatched throughout the week and promoting safe activities such as music events downtown would help increase safety as well.
When asked about Irvington Avenue and its relation to Seton Hall students, Bauer said zoning changes need to be made to this business district, creating businesses that students and residents want to go to, adding that this is an area of student safety concern.
Torpey addressed Irvington Avenue as an area with potential that needs an improved business climate, as well as a growth plan that integrates Seton Hall organizations and promotes public safety, especially at night.
Torpey also acknowledged what he called a “tense” relationship between Seton Hall students and South Orange saying, “there is no misconception” about it. He said ordinances cannot be passed that single students out from the South Orange community.
Bauer said she would welcome conversations and Seton Hall partnerships with local government, such as student committees and a focus on public safety.
“There is no bigger Pirate fan than me,” she said.
Candidates were also asked about the housing needs of Seton Hall students. Bauer said she is willing to support more housing and offers from developers, and added loud house parties and violation of quality of life standards are not well received and need to be monitored by safety inspections.
Torpey said many students opt to live in Newark and surrounding areas out of necessity and lack of funds or room to live in South Orange. According to Torpey, South Orange needs to market the downtown area and figure how many students are living outside of the Village in order to improve off-campus student residences.
Bauer said Seton Hall students and their families should be welcomed to the downtown South Orange community. She mentioned restaurant discounts and sponsored events, adding she has “seen more students on South Orange Ave.” recently.
Torpey said the stereotype between students and residents needs to be broken. In speaking with students, he said he found that “as soon as the sun goes down, they don’t walk up and down the street anymore.” According to Torpey, perception management needs to be promoted.
Johan Wolff, a Columbia High School sophomore and director of the Essex County High School Student Democrats, attended the debate after being introduced to Torpey.
“I like his message and what he had to say,” Wolff said.
Other Columbia High School students approached declined comment on Bauer.
Charlotte Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.