$749K grant to improve streetscape

IRVINGTON, NJ — The Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders have awarded Irvington $749,000 for streetscape improvements, announced Mayor Tony Vauss on Friday, Jan. 29.

Vauss said the streetscape work will be done by Zenith Construction Services and thanked the “Essex County Freeholders Board for their great support of the township of Irvington.”

“With this funding of Zenith Construction Services, the streetscapes of the town will be modernized and beautified,” Vauss said Friday, Jan. 29, a week after a blizzard dumped 3 feet of snow on the township on Saturday, Jan. 23. “It will be a great enhancement to our town. It will also add to the cleanliness and safety of our town — two of my primary goals.”

It snowed again on Presidents Day, Monday, Feb. 15, and Vauss said that snowfall, as light as it was, highlighted the importance of the $749,000 streetscape grant from the county. He said, “The grant was specific for just doing certain things” that were already scheduled before it snowed Saturday, Jan. 23, and that will be necessary after the snow melts.

“We have a major street-paving project coming up for 22 streets once the weather breaks,” Vauss said on Tuesday, Feb. 16. “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 Our infrastructure is outdated and needs an overhaul.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.”

Vauss said those longstanding infrastructure issues in town have only been exacerbated by the recent spate of bad weather.

“You’ve already seen from the first snowstorm that there were potholes that popped up,” said Vauss. “The forward-thinking process was we have to get things ready. Once the streets are cleared, people are going to start complaining about potholes and we want to make sure that we’re prepared to deal with it. When I took office, we were known as the pothole capital of New Jersey. We hired contractors to come in and not only fill the holes, but to cut them out and fill them in properly.”

Freeholder C. Jones, a former Irvington councilwoman, lives in Irvington and knows firsthand how important good, safe roads are for residents and businesses. She said the $749,000 streetscape grant is proof that Freeholder President Britnee Timberlake and Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo are getting the message.

“I have been speaking out for the township of Irvington,” said Jones on Tuesday, Feb. 16. “I love Irvington, and the people of Irvington deserve the same thing as everybody else in the county. Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo hears us and understands what we want and need and is doing his best to help us get it.”

“We had that money before; it was due to us,” continued Jones. “I talked to our financial director, Mr. (Wayne) Bradley, and he said they used to give it to the city directly, but things changed and they started giving it to the county to hold for us before they transferred it to us. So the money was already there.

Sometimes, you have to keep your finger on the pulse to make sure things get done in a timely fashion.”
Jones said, “A lot of good things are happening” in Irvington and the rest of Essex County, thanks to the leadership of Vauss locally, and DiVincenzo and Timberlake at the county level.

“It’s a fantastic grant and it’s going to the great township of Irvington,” Timberlake said Tuesday, Feb. 16. “It’s something that’s going to help beautify the community, as well as the business district. And when it comes to the timeliness of the grant, in light of the recent snowstorms and the paving and streetscape issues they can cause, acts of God are just that. As people, we need to make sure that we are prepared and ready to deal with them. I’m sure, as soon as the weather lets up, Mayor Vauss will roll out the streetscape project.”

Vauss said the streetscape project is expected to begin in the spring.