Pat Van Slyke takes her oath of office.The City Council just approved the three new commissioners Monday and they took part Thursday in the 2017 annual reorganization. The board chose Henry Robinson as chairman for the year, Michelle Graham-Lyons as vice-chair, Miguel Edghill as treasurer and Robin Bright as secretary.
Mejias said he met with Oren Dabney, the city's new director of Public Works & Urban Development, and they discussed ways to address "public confusion" over roles of the city and authority on tasks such as tree-trimming and street sweeping, which the city performs but which many residents believe to be a PMUA responsibility. He said he also discussed ways to address illegal dumping and a new requirement for businesses to have a "trade waste license" posted, showing they have a trash removal contract with PMUA or another entity.
Regarding grease traps, he said the PMUA can't levy fines but the city Health Division can. And when it comes to abatement (cleanup of dumping and such), the PMUA is responsible only after being instructed by the city to take action.
Mejias announced a new superintendent of solid waste, Larry Chambers, who was promoted from within the organization after the former superintendent had to step down due to medical issues. Mejias said it is a goal of the authority to promote from within whenever possible.
Mayor Adrian O. Mapp visited PMUA headquarters and the Rock Avenue transfer station to speak to members of the authority on his goals and visions for the city and how the authority can play a major role, Mejias said, and also to dispel rumors of the mayor wanting to shut down the authority.
Robinson said the mayor spoke very highly of the PMUA and wanted to partner with it. He noted in the past the city and PMUA had not had a strong relationship, but said the mayor explained he wanted to make it "more .of a shining star than it already is."
In other comments, Mejias noted that former Commissioner Carol Brokaw was appointed to the Plainfield Area Regional Sewerage Authority's finance board. PARSA conveys sewage from several Central Jersey municipalities to the Middlesex County Utilities Authority and charges each one for its service. Mejias said PMUA "will now have a voice on the board" of PARSA.
Another bit of news is an agreement between PMUA and the Salvation Army to have drop boxes at the transfer station where Plainfield residents can drop donations instead of having them go into landfills.
Mejias said PMUA partners with the Salvation Army for bike giveaways and for the Halloween "Trunk or Treat" event.
My visit to PMUA headquarters Thursday allowed me to take a photo of a memorial created to honor Eric C. Watson. the authority's original executive director, who served from 1995 to 2011. He came to the PMUA after serving as director of Public Works & Urban Development in the administration of former Mayor Mark Fury and returned to the role in September 2014. He passed away unexpectedly on July 17, 2016.