New commission roster in place

LYNDHURST — Lyndhurst’s five newly elected township commissioners were sworn into office at a reorganization session in Town Hall Park Tuesday, May 16.

And, as expected, Commissioner Robert Giangeruso — who was designated mayor by his fellow commissioners returned as director of the Department of Public Safety. For the past couple of years, Giangeruso had been shunted to the Department of Public Affairs after a then-split board of commissioners voted to move John Montillo from Public Affairs to Public Safety.

Now, Montillo who ran for re-election on an opposition ticket and was the lone victor from that slate will handle the Department of Revenue & Finance while Commissioner Karen Haggerty, a newcomer, will take over Public Affairs.

Commissioner Tom DiMaggio returns as director of Parks & Public Property and Commissioner Richard Jarvis Sr., another newcomer, will guide the Department of Public Works.

Former Commissioner Brian Haggerty, serving as master of ceremonies, noted that the commissioners — elected May 9 were taking their oaths on the day following Lyndhurst’s centennial anniversary.

Giangeruso told the crowd that planned improvements in the township were “held up” by a politicallydivisive atmosphere that “became increasingly stagnant.”

“But that all changes today,” he said, to an appreciative roar from the audience.

A changing Lyndhurst “is still a work in progress,” the mayor said, but residents should, ultimately, expect upgrades in the local business district, a new train station and a new junior high school, he added.

Eventually, Giangeruso said, “Lyndhurst will be the crown jewel of southeast Bergen County. But we need a clear plan of action to achieve this. I’m proud to serve with a new majority and I also extend an olive branch to Commissioner Montillo.”

Despite having just gone through “one of the nastiest elections I’ve ever seen, [exploiting] fear tactics, abuse and slander of the public trust,” the political climate is about to change, Giangeruso said.

“Now those things come to an end.”

The mayor’s longtime ally, DiMaggio, also expressed revulsion for the rival ticket’s tactics, thanking his family members and campaign supporters “who stood by us and it wasn’t easy living through personal and family attacks and slanders.”

But now, he said, “together, we will roll up our sleeves and make Lyndhurst the greatest town in Bergen County. And I extend the olive branch to Commissioner Montillo.”

For his part, Montillo said: “I look forward to working with you guys for the next four years. It’s all about Lyndhurst.”

Haggerty said she wanted to “move forward to get our town back on track and make it [even] more beautiful than it is.”

Jarvis acknowledged that the township’s “infrastructure needs work” and, to that end, he would press to continue to get “roads paved, potholes [filled], sidewalks fixed and trees trimmed.”

Among the local and regional dignitaries who attended the swearing-in ceremonies were Bergen County Executive James Tedesco, who presented the commissioners with certificates of commendation; county Freeholder Steve Tanelli, of North Arlington, who spoke about “finding creative ways of working together” to deal with the pool of “federal funds drying up”; and county Clerk John Hogan, who said: “Lyndhurst is fortunate to have you as leaders.

Also present were former Lyndhurst mayors James Guida and Lou Stellato, the current Bergen County Democratic chairman, who said Lyndhurst “has a great future,” given its easy access to state highways and train transport to Manhattan, parklands and “its last true frontier, the meadowlands.”

Stellato told township residents that Lyndhurst’s future was in good hands with their newly installed leaders so long as they work to bring in “good, quality general commercial development built by union craftsmen” as opposed to giant malls like “Xanadu” in East Rutherford and “stand up for our youth, our most valuable asset” for which, he added, “we need the state to come up with a quality [funding] formula, not one that results in “five or six towns taking all the money” and “stand up for those in uniform, our unions and our teachers.”

“In our village, we will have good things happen with great people,” Stellato said. “Don’t take what you hear on the street as gospel.”

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