South Orange Says ‘Farewell’ to Trustee Zuckerman, Appoints Schnall to Finish Term

by Mary Barr Mann
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The South Orange Board of Trustees and Village President said farewell to Trustee Bob Zuckerman at the September 12, 2022 Board of Trustees meeting and appointed former Trustee Steve Schnall to fill out the remainder of Zuckerman’s term.

Zuckerman was elected to a four-year term on the South Orange BOT in May 2019; his term was set to end in May 2023 at which time there will be an election for three of the BOT’s six seats, as well as an election for Village President. Zuckerman offered his resignation because he is moving to Asbury Park, NJ with his husband Grant Neumann. Earlier this year, Zuckerman took a new job as Executive Director of Red Bank RiverCenter in Red Bank, NJ.

Prior to serving on the Board of Trustees, Zuckerman worked as Executive Director of the South Orange Village Center Alliance (now South Orange Downtown) from 2013 through 2019.

On September 12, Collum read a proclamation in Zuckerman’s honor, citing his many chairmanships.

“The people in South Orange are some of the most amazing people on the planet. … There’s just so much love and so much good will,” said Zuckerman.

“We’ve accomplished a lot together in 3-1/2 years,” said Zuckerman, noting his work as chair of the Planning and Economic Development committee. “We are transforming this downtown,” said Zuckerman, pointing to projects such as the 110-unit Taylor Vose apartment building which includes a co-retailing space, the perennially soon-to-open Village Hall restaurant and beer garden, the 106-unit 4th & Valley apartment building, the 42-unit Mosaic with an arts incubator, The Baird recreation center renovation, and the library expansion.

“All of these are very very exciting changes,” said Zuckerman.

He also lauded the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) ordinance that was voted on that night, “providing affordable housing options” for senior citizens to “age in place” in the township, as well as the fire department merger with Maplewood, the township’s improved bond rating, and the approval of cannabis licenses. “I was really proud to lead the cannabis task force,” said Zuckerman.

He also cited challenges — “The biggest one” being COVID. “But this community really rose together, came together to fight this dreaded disease… we lost a few folks but because of everyone pulling together .. it could have been much worse.”

He thanked the governing body, including existing and previous members, for their “friendship, kindness and camaraderie.”

“We are truly blessed that we all like each other, we get along and, collectively, we make a difference,” said Zuckerman of his fellow Trustees.

He then asked, “How am I going to thank [Village President] Sheena [Collum]. What can I thank her for?” said Zuckerman. “And the answer is everything.”

“We have been through so much together. …. South Orange is so lucky to have you as their VP because you care so much, you are so dedicated to this work, to this community.”

He also thanked Village staffers and the people who voted for him. “I love South Orange. I will always love South Orange. South Orange will always be my home away from home.”

As each Trustee shared fond memories of serving with Zuckerman, Trustee Karen Hilton talked about how she struggled to accept the news that Zuckerman was leaving. “How am I going to do this job without you?” she asked.

Collum talked about how the BOT had been able to “come together as a government that is respectful and kind and compassionate .. and move forward … and, Trustee Zuckerman, you exude that.”

After Zuckerman left the dais to join the audience, Collum pivoted to the future.

“It is my great honor and pleasure to share that the best path forward was to go to our immediate past colleagues Trustee [Walter] Clarke and Trustee [Steve] Schnall.” Collum said a knowledgeable colleague would be best to help with the full agenda facing the BOT from continuing Tropical Storm Ida cleanup. ongoing projects such as the Baird and the library, and discussions about the future of the water utility.

Collum then announced that Schnall would fill the vacancy. The motion to approve the resolution appointing Schnall was made by Trustee Bobby Brown, seconded by Hilton, and unanimously approved by the five current Trustees.

Schnall was then sworn in and the BOT continued with its meeting agenda.

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