PATERSON, NJ- Nearly three dozen members of his Transition Team delivered the culmination of their hundreds of hours of research and work to Mayor Andre Sayegh on Thursday.
Presented in the form of an 87-page report, the completed work, according to Vaughn McKoy who led the effort as the Transition Team Chair before accepting the role of Business Administrator, provides a “roadmap to Paterson’s future.”
Acknowledging that with the Sayegh Administration approaching its 100 day mark some expected the report to be completed sooner, McKoy said that the decision was made to “not rush to get it done just to get it done.”
Instead, McKoy continued, the plan, which focuses on 11 “priority areas” including public integrity; community & economic development; recreation, education, and youth; and labor & workforce development, and presents benchmarks at various intervals during Sayegh’s four year term, is the reflection of a “unique transition” made more successful by the support of former Mayor Jane Williams-Warren.
Asked about her view of the transition, Williams-Warren, who attended the Thursday press conference, said that the work done by the more than 100 volunteer members was “phenomenal,” and that Sayegh has succeeded in “returning hope to Paterson.”
“I believe in Paterson,” Williams-Warren said striking her trademark upbeat tone. “One block at a time we will become the best city there is.”
Among the team members to join in the preparation and presentation of the plan was Kat Esquiche, co-chair of the Arts, Culture & Tourism Committee, who said that she was impressed at the level of input that each individual offered to the proceedings. “People just want to be a part of the renaissance that is already starting,” according to Esquiche.
“People want to see our city prosper.”
“The artistic pulses that run through Paterson are as strong as the currents that run over The Great Falls,” the report reads. “Nearly every art form has a notable Patersonian connected with it.”
Comparing efforts to improve Jersey City and Newark to those that have taken center stage in the early days of the Sayegh Administration, Esquiche suggested that “those cities have done it without the landmarks or the rich history” of Paterson.
“We have so much potential,” she concluded.
Among the obstacles that Paterson has fought to overcome in recent years, according to the opening statement of the report, is that “different components of local government have drifted away from each other instead of joining together in constructive collaboration.” Seeking to remedy this, as it relates to the Passaic Valley Water Commission, the Paterson Housing Authority, and the Paterson Parking Authority, was Wayne Witherspoon and the seven members of the Public Authorities Committee on which he served.
“The Mayor has stressed, and exhibited, that good government will be key in our efforts to move Paterson forward,” Witherspoon said. “That means working together,” he added, to achieve some of the objectives they laid out which include transitioning parking meters to “pay by plate” technology and linking the Paterson Housing Authority’s camera system to the Paterson Police Department’s to improve public safety.
Reaffirming the reality presented by McKoy that not every goal presented in the pages of the report will, or even can, be accomplished, Sayegh took his turn at the podium to promise that the work of the volunteers wouldn’t be relegated to the dustbin of history, but will, instead, be the template for “positioning Paterson for progress.”
“This can’t be about campaign rhetoric,” Sayegh said raising bound copy of the plan. “This has to be about results.”