History of We Care NJ

Introduction for WE CARE

WECARE NJ CORP has a proud lineage.  It is the successor to the less formal unincorporated association, WECARE (West Essex Committee Against Rezoning Excesses), which was formed in 2000 and carried the fight against development through a surprising 7-2 victory before the West Orange Planning Board in 2006 and onward until about 2016.

A central purpose throughout was the effort to preserve this large and environmentally sensitive property as Open Space, which, at the time, was a top priority of West Orange’s Master Plan.  After the unexpected action of the Planning Board in 2006, a number of leading environmental and conservation groups, led by the Trust for Public Land, made significant progress toward preservation, but the unwillingness of West Orange Township to support it was a major impediment.

The old WECARE was primarily based in the West Essex Highlands condominium community but included residents of the Grande and other West Orange neighborhoods, as well as homeowners from Essex Fells and Verona.  The common thread binding them was deep concern about the negative effects of development in economic, ecological, and safety terms.

Those same concerns, exacerbated by the threats posed by climate change, are motivating the new WECARE NJ, a more formal and broader-based organization. The standing-room-only and highly motivated crowd at the Essex Fells Country Club on June 28th attests to the greater scope of the current effort, and the efforts that the meeting has spawned are further evidence.

Despite some predictable naysayers who are trying to sell the message that development is a done deal, this is a winnable fight if we commit to it.  [While the  developer has agreed to make 100 of the proposed 496 units affordable (as part of  West Orange’s still not fully met fair share housing quota), the environmental issues make it inappropriate for any development; fair share housing can be built in other locations that are safer and more appropriate.]

A group of us have organized WECARE NJ CORP.   We are committed to greatly expanding the numbers of those who are actively engaged in the fight. Please be ready for and respond to our call, as we know you will.  This fight can be won.  It will take a large, diverse, and committed group to win it.   Many towns, one roof, shared voice. 

In the interests of openness and transparency, which are essential to our effort, here are brief biographical statements of the four of us who have served as incorporators and initial Trustees of the new WECARE NJ:

 - Paul Tractenberg