Columbia Bank donates $27K for new town hall lift
West Milford. Columbia Bank is donating some $27,000 to install a new lift at town hall to help disabled individuals access the building.


Mayor Michele Dale accepts a check from the Columbia Bank for a new lift to enable persons unable to navigate stairs to get to the Health Department at West Milford Municipal Building. From left are: Columbia’s West Milford Branch Manager Amy Lewis, President/ Chief Executive Officer Thomas J. Kemly, Friends of the Library President Martha Tappan and Acting Executive Director Minoska Mateo. Ann Genader photo
By Ann Genader

Columbia Bank is donating money to help people with disabilities access town hall.
Bank officials wanted to give back to the people of the community of West Milford and they asked Mayor Michele Dale for suggestions of how to do so.
From the ideas Dale presented to them, the Columbia people saw the difficulties that some people are having in reaching the upper floor of the municipal building where the Health Department and some other services are located as a primary problem that needed to be addressed.
A lift bringing people unable to navigate the stairs that was put in about 20 years ago is worn out and no longer works adequately.
From the time it was put in, a key has been needed to operate it and an employee must leave a position to go to the stairs on the east end of the building to turn on the power for it.
Otherwise, when someone is unable to walk needs access to the second floor they cannot get there.
The new lift will not need a key to be operated.
The donated check made out to Friends of The Library is in the amount of $27,446.
Mayor Dale, on behalf of the community, thanked the Columbia representatives for their generosity.
The municipal building was built to replace the original town hall from 1912 (now the West Milford Museum) in 1958.
The two wings on either side of the building were added later at a time when not much attention was paid to accommodating persons with special needs.
In 2000, voters approved a referendum authorizing spending up to $400,000 from revenue sharing funds that were on deposit at the time to build the two-wing addition.
The plan provided for expanded facilities for the municipal court, police department, detention facilities, and improvement of existing building facilities.
The referendum had the backing of present and former officials.
The initial plans for the addition were revised after voters defeated an earlier proposal.
The approval vote was 2,649 to 1,991 during the period when West Milford had a non partisan government.
Since then, Americans with Disabilities Association regulations were put into law and special needs are now addressed in construction projects.