MAPLEWOOD, NJ — As 2018 gave way to 2019, a big change took place in Maplewood. The administration created two “super departments” — the Department of Community Services and the Department of Community Development. The new Community Services Department, which covers the Recreation, Health and Welfare divisions, will be headed by new Community Services Director Melissa Mancuso.
Mancuso, who is still director of recreation, serving with Nick Walz as Recreation Division manager, said she looks forward to broadening outreach to residents for all divisions. She intends for her department to offer programming and services that are affordable and accessible, and provide safe and varied programs and services to Maplewood’s diverse population in a cost-effective and progressive manner.
“We have always had a team atmosphere between our departments, and this will make our merging of services more official. The divisions are highly functioning and providing our residents with great services, and I plan on assessing current systems and making any necessary recommendations for streamlining and best practices,” Mancuso told the News-Record. “An initial goal is creating a website that looks the same across the divisions, and can become a real resource for residents. I look forward to large, collaborative brainstorming sessions as we look to increase our productivity and ease of resident interfacing in the Community Services Division.”
The director said she plans to increase productivity and review, and improve and expand the township’s programs and services to keep pace with the changes and needs of the entire community.
“After only a couple of weeks at the helm, I’ve begun strengthening relationships with colleagues new to our larger team, which is what makes the magic happen,” she said. “We have already developed open communication, and staff in the Community Services Division are empowered to make decisions while supplied with constant managerial support. So far I have done a lot of listening, and we are setting goals for 2019 and beyond in a very collaborative way.”
According to Maplewood Business Administrator Sonia Alves-Viveiros, who proposed the idea of creating the two “super departments,” as part of the reorganization, no positions within the township were deleted and no employees were let go.
Alves-Viveiros told the News-Record that the purpose of this reorganization is to “create more synergy between departments for purposes of providing better services to the public.”
In his State of the Township Address delivered Jan. 1, Mayor Vic DeLuca, touted this reorganization, explaining that the Community Services Department will bring together recreation, the pool, summer camps, cultural affairs, senior services, health and welfare, while the Community Development Department will put zoning, building, code enforcement and economic development together.
“These super departments will break down institutional silos and allow us to provide better municipal services,” DeLuca said.