Department directors attend virtual meeting with mayor

Irvington Mayor Tony Vauss hosts a Zoom meeting via Facebook Live, introducing residents to all public directors in the township of Irvington, on Aug. 27.

IRVINGTON, NJ — On Aug. 27, Irvington Mayor Tony Vauss held a Zoom meeting via Facebook Live with the town’s public directors.

Attending the meeting were Director of Public Works Jamel Holley, Director of Economic Development and Grants Oversight Genia Philip, Public Safety Director Tracy Bowers, Deputy Public Safety Director John Brown, Director of Housing and Building Construction Karim Arnold, Chief Financial Officer Faheem Ra’Oof, Director of Recreation Donald Malloy, Director of Health and Senior Services Sonia Whyte, Director of the Irvington Neighborhood Improvement Corporation Deborah Simpkins, Director of Community Development and Planning Kyana Woolridge, and Business Administrator Musa Malik.

The purpose of this meeting was to introduce all directors to viewers, allowing the community to become familiar with the officials, which will come in handy should residents have to contact them.

“I wanted to do this because I thought it was important for all residents to meet the directors, get an idea of who they are and what we’re doing each and every day,” Vauss said on Aug. 27. “I want to thank them for taking the time to be a part of this, because a lot of them have a lot of work to do, because we talk about things that we’ve done in the past, we’re currently doing and things we’re going to be doing in the future.”

Each director highlighted their responsibilities within their department and provided contact information for viewers.

“As the Director of Public Works, we’re responsible for the infrastructure as well as the maintenance of our township properties, parks, streets and sanitation,” Holley said Aug. 27. “If any residents have any complaints as it relates to potholes, road resurfacing, sanitation or any of the (infrastructure) needs of the township, they can contact my department.”

Philip explained that her department runs a number of programs for the town.

“The Economic Development Department is responsible for implementing programs and projects that touch and enhance the physical, economic and social aspects of the residents in Irvington,” Philip said Aug. 27. “As a result, we run a variety of programs in this office. We are responsible for developer designation for several aspects of our redevelopment portfolio. Through that, we host a special tax sale, which is designed to target abandoned properties, to not only recapture them and put them in the hands of redevelopers, but also to bring property back into our tax roll. Through that program, we have generated upwards of $7 million in revenue over the three years that we’ve been running this program and have returned over 150,000 properties back to the tax roll.”

Bowers said his department’s No. 1 job is safety.

“My job is to keep our residents and those who work in our township safe,” Bowers said on Aug. 27. “Our general number for nonemergencies is 973-399-6600, and, of course for emergencies, you can always call 911 and we will be out to help you.”

Brown’s department is also focused on safety.

“As deputy director of public safety, my job has been tasked to oversee the fire department,” Brown said on Aug. 27. “My job is to preserve life and property, and we do that, not just through fire suppression but through fire prevention. Prior to COVID, we went out to a lot of schools and a lot of community organizations to teach fire prevention, and we ran a very successful youth program called ‘The Explorers.’”

For Arnold, the workday involves ensuring homeowners, landlords and renters are following rules.

“If you’re purchasing a home, you need a TCO (total cost of ownership) or a full certificate of occupancy, or if you’re renting an apartment, you apply for a certificate of habitability and we also do property maintenance inspection,” Arnold said Aug. 27. “The other component is building. If you’re building a house or repairing a house, you can apply for permits through my office in Room 201. The main person in that office, the technical assistant, is Ms. Cynthia Mitchell. These are the components we cover here in our department.”

Though Malloy’s department is all about recreation, it is still hard work.

“We’re responsible for creating and managing programs in the township for our youth, all kinds of activity,” he said, naming several partners. “We’re also responsible for getting grants for our parks system.”

Remaining directors can be viewed in the Facebook Live video.