Construction projects under way in Irvington

IRVINGTON, NJ — Anyone traveling through Irvington recently could not have overlooked the sidewalk construction here; the demolition of the old unused Madison Avenue School building to make way for a new state-of-the-art replacement; the ongoing development of the old Irvington General Hospital site on Chancellor Avenue; and the continuing demolition of old, abandoned houses that have become eyesores and havens for unsavory individuals and illicit activities.

And according to Mayor Tony Vauss, all the construction is a good thing.

“We have a major street-paving project coming up for 22 streets once the weather breaks,” said Vauss on Tuesday, Feb. 16. This is thanks to the $749,000 grant for streetscape improvements that the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders awarded Irvington on Friday, Jan. 29.

“We applied for this grant years ago before I took office, but it’s just coming through now. Our infrastructure is outdated and needs an overhaul. It’s just a much-needed effort to conquer issues that we’ve had over 60 to 70 years in Irvington,” the mayor said.

Vauss said the streetscape project was scheduled to begin “in the spring.” And he was as good as his word.

On Thursday, July 21, he announced that the township has been awarded a zero-percent interest loan of $600,000 from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs and Gov. Chris Christie to demolish 50 unsafe buildings in Irvington.

Vauss said the funds are part of the state’s Urban and Rural Center Unsafe Building Bond Loan Fund.

“On behalf of the township of Irvington, I thank Commissioner Charles Richman of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, as well Gov. Christie, for the $600,000,” said Vauss on Thursday, July 21. “This will allow us to demolish at least 50 more dilapidated and abandoned buildings. Since I have been mayor, we have taken down 26 such properties.”

Vauss said “doing away with these properties” will have a positive impact on neighborhoods and the township as a whole. Once they are down, he said the area becomes “safer and cleaner” and opens the way for development.

And Vauss said that’s a good thing.

“The funds were part of a competitive program offered by DCA,” said Vauss. “This is the fifth round of funding.”

On Wednesday, July 27, Vauss held a press conference at the Irvington Municipal Building to discuss plans for street repaving and road resurfacing throughout the township; the demolition of unsafe properties; the renovations at the Gatling Center; the decline of crime in the township; Health Department programs; revenue generated by the Municipal Court; and upcoming township projects.

“Everybody’s in this together; it’s just such a different feeling,” said Vauss on Wednesday, July 27.