PATERSON, NJ- Mayor Andre Sayegh commemorated the 100 day mark of his Administration by pointing to a number of accomplishments that he believes show Paterson is “back on the map” during a brief address in City Council chambers on Tuesday.
As he has done since being sworn in on July 1, Sayegh gave much of the credit to the team working around him, including Business Administrator Vaughn McKoy who introduced the city’s chief executive to the podium.
“I am proud to have put together a group of professionals, who are focused on bringing to the people of Paterson what they deserve: good government” Sayegh said to applause from the gathered crowd of Transition Team members, city employees, and residents.
During his remarks Sayegh highlighted several accomplishments and provided updates on various initiatives he has spoken about in past weeks:
Developed and presented a plan to transfer employee and retiree health care benefits from the current self-insured plan managed by the city to the New Jersey State Health Benefits Plan, estimated to save the city over $200 million over the next seven years.
Implemented monthly meetings with the County of Passaic to create efficiencies and engage in shared services including the study of expanded use of a fiber optic cable network, savings through the launch of an energy co-operative, and flood abatement planning.
Instituted quarterly meetings with the Superintendent Eileen Shafer, to strengthen the relationship between the city and its schools and grow shared services while also taking initial steps to create a larger joint plan for parks, fields, and recreation programming.
Released a nearly 90 page transition report that provides a blueprint for the work of the Administration moving forward.
Sayegh also spoke of his selection as one of only 40 mayors worldwide to participate in the yearlong Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, a fellowship, he said, which will help Paterson learn from best practices of urban centers across the globe to create data-driven policies and procedures.
While good governance is an important foundation that will help Paterson, he offered, Sayegh acknowledged that much must still be be done to bring back the vibrancy that Paterson is capable of.
Sounding a theme similar to the one he espoused throughout the campaign, and since his victory, Sayegh said that a focus on economic development and jobs creation initiatives will be key. Along these line, he continued, the city is already moving in the right direction:
Advanced a plan to capitalize on $130 million state tax credits for development projects in three zones - Downtown Paterson, Great Falls District, and South Paterson/Hospital Zone.
Sold the Paterson Armory for $3 million, adding an abandoned property to the tax rolls and realizing revenue for this year’s budget.
Hosted scores of groups interested in bringing housing and jobs through commercial and residential development.
Commenced the process to utilize state funding for brownfield clean-up at the former Leader Dye factory, preparing the property for sale.
With the same spirit in which he expressed his hope for growth and economic development, he acknowledged some of the challenges facing the city lamenting that, “one murder is too many murders in our city” while sharing his work with Public Safety Director Jerry Speziale to create a “safe streets” initiative after a recent uptick in violence. This previously reported on plan, he reminded the audience, will continue to maximize resources from Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, the New Jersey State Police, and the Department of Homeland Security.
Sayegh also pointed to the recent launch of the LEAD drug prevention program and the Paterson Police Explorers Program both showing collaboration between the Paterson Police Department and Paterson Public Schools providing classroom education to city students to help reduce drug use and inspire them towards careers in local law enforcement.
Reminding the crowd that he and his administration can not bring Paterson back to where it can be on their own Sayegh pointed to various initiatives such the recently relaunched Environmental Commission, the newly established “Green Team”, an effort aimed at insuring an accurate population count in the 2020 Census known as Make Paterson Count, and the overhauled Paterson Reads initiative which will see several community groups and Paterson Schools push to increase reading levels under the volunteer direction of First Lady Farhanna Balgahoom Sayegh, as areas where the community itself is helping to lead on bringing about positive change.
Long time resident Mary Crooms was among those in attendance telling TAPinto Paterson after the address that “these last 100 days prove that Mayor Sayegh is committed to the growth of this city,” a comment McKoy followed up on offering te reminder “these are only 100 days, and we have 265 days to go, and 365 days after that, and so on.”
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