A former Jersey City official is Mayor Adrian O. Mapp's choice to serve as acting director of Public Works & Urban Development.
Mapp has informed the City Council of Oren K. Dabney's appointment as acting director on Dec. 6 and says in a letter he intends to submit Dabney's name for the governing body's advice and consent at the 2017 Reorganization Meeting.
The department includes six important divisions, including Planning, Inspections and Recreation. The post became vacant with the untimely death of DPW&UD Director Eric C. Watson in July. City Administrator Rick Smiley had been serving as acting director since Watson's passing.
According to online sources, Dabney had a variable relationship with Jersey City's Steve Fulop, challenging him when Fulop was a councilman and Dabney was head of the Jersey City Incinerator Authority, but then.being named acting Public Works director by Fulop in July 2014. However, he retired as head of the JCIA in August 2015 with lifetime health benefits for himself and his family and an estimated $77,472 pension. According to Jersey City's official web site, the JCIA was dissolved in April 2016, with the city assuming all its service responsibilities.
Newspaper accounts of the relationship between Fulop and Dabney echo the sometimes tense relationship of Mapp and Watson, who started out as the city's Public Works director but then became executive director of the newly-formed Plainfield Municipal Utilities in 1995. As council president in 2012, Mapp challenged the PMUA and called for its dissolution, but as mayor he welcomed Watson back as acting PW&UD director in 2014. Watson was approved by the council to serve until Dec. 31, 2017, but died in office.
The regular City Council meeting for December is 8 p.m. Monday (Dec. 12) in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave.