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Maplewood, South Orange Stories to Watch in 2014

Here are a few things to look forward to in 2014.

Each year brings a new set of issues that encapsulates residents of Maplewood and South Orange. What will stand out in 2014? Here are a few things to look forward to in 2014.

Maplewood Post Office

The Maplewood Township Committee will soon be voting on a developer for The Maplewood Post Office, which has been called the township's "crown jewel" property. The Maplewood Township Committee’s Economic Development Committee has unanimously recommended L&M Development Partners of Larchmont, N.Y. as the developers for the project, which includes includes street level retail space suitable for Kings Supermarket, a ground floor level of retail spaces, and 25 apartments above.

The Maplewood Township Committee is set to vote at the January 7 meeting.

South Orange Village Hall Renovation

The Township of South Orange Village began its Village Hall renovation and moved offices across the street in October 2013. It is estimated that the Village offices will be located at 76 South Orange Ave. for the next two years.

The move is part of a 30-month renovation project which includes tearing down walls, ceilings and floors in preparation for asbestos abatement. New walls, floors, ceilings and a new roof will be added. Patch will continue to provide updates on the renovation as they happen.

SOMEA Negotiations

The South Orange and Maplewood School District and the South Orange and Maplewood Education Association remain at an impasse after the Association rejected a 2.2 percent salary increase in December 2013.

The two parties will need to continue discussions in 2014 to reach an agreement to the contract that expired in June of 2013.

“We are hopeful that SOMEA will return to the table soon to work on reaching a fair and mutually satisfactory agreement that is in the best interest to our students, staff and taxpayers,” the district said.

School Safety

School safety will continue to be a hot-button issue in 2014 after a reporter was able to wander Tuscan Elementary School for more than two minutes with a hidden camera in December 2013.

The NBC report sparked an outcry from residents who demanded immediate security improvements during a Board of Education meeting. The district added cameras in Tuscan School with live feeds, began reviewing security plans to detail procedures and will be re-training all key staff throughout the district. They will also be working with security experts from the South Orange and Maplewood Police Departments to review and enhance security protocols.

Other ideas moving forward include eliminating unscheduled visits, two sets of locked entry doors, reconfiguring entry ways so that main offices are closer to the entrance and security guards to monitor entryways.

In 2014 Patch will continue to chronicle school security improvements.

What do YOU want from your local Patch?

We want to hear what issues are important to the residents of Maplewood and South Orange. Tell us in the comment sections what issues are important and what you want to see covered in 2014.

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