East Newark hires fourth administrator in 2 years since Grilo became mayor

Confessore, center, is seen here with Harrison Mayor James A. Fife, left, and Harrison Board of Education trustee Art Pettigrew. Observer File Photo

East Newark has a new borough administrator — the fourth occupant of that position since Dina Grilo took over as mayor in 2020.

Fred Confessore, a member of the Harrison Board of Education for whom he served as assistant superintendent many years, was named to fill the post by the Borough Council on Oct. 14.

He takes over for Ron Edwards, who left recently to take the job of assistant commissioner of the New York City Department of Corrections. Edwards had replaced Robert Dowd, the retired North Bergen chief of police, who left East Newark after only a few months on the job to write a textbook on criminal justice.  Dowd’s predecessor, Kevin Catrambone, also of Harrison, now serves as the borough’s director of special projects.

Don’t expect Confessore to stay very long, either, and don’t look for him at Borough Hall. He’ll be working remotely for the next few weeks.

Councilmember Rose Evaristo said the appointment of the former longtime educational administrator and longtime Harrison High hoops coach was envisioned as “short-term only” until the borough finds someone permanent.

“We’ve advertised but we didn’t get anyone qualified,” Evaristo said.  So, in the meantime, she said, the mayor felt Confessore would serve as a reliable temporary caretaker to monitor the borough’s day-to-day business.

State statute 30.13 says a municipal administrator “shall be chosen solely on the basis of his or her executive, administrative and managerial qualifications as judged by the adequacy of his or her training and his or her successful experience in private or public administration.”

In the meantime, Evaristo said, the borough will continue its search.

Other objectives the borough is pursuing include:

  • Completion of upgrades to the municipal Recreation Center such as a new roof, new flooring, new electrical system and a new classroom for accommodating pre-school children. “We’ve been waiting for grant money for two years to do the improvements,” Evaristo said. Now the funds are available, she said. When the work is done, she added, the borough school will resume using part of the space as a gym.
  • Redevelopment of the old St. Anthony’s School/Community Center to accommodate construction of six 2-family homes. Four residential structures will front on John Street and two will face out along North Second Street. Landscaping and garages will line up along Sherman Avenue. A contractor has leveled the site to prepare the foundation but little activity has happened since then.
  • The borough has sold two of its properties for development but, so far, nothing has happened. The purchaser of the former municipal garage on Grant Avenue planned to build homes on the site but reportedly has failed to meet a deadline to come up with a down-payment, Evaristo said. And the former Valley Bank on Frank E. Rodgers Boulevard—which the borough bought a few years ago — was sold to a Kearny restaurant owner who, according to Evaristo, had made “no firm commitment” to go through with the deal.
  • There are plans to hire a part-time parking enforcement officer but Evaristo said that’s likely contingent on the borough first installing parking meters along the Central Avenue business district. Residents won’t have to put money in the meters, she added.
  • Redevelopment of the old Clark Thread mill along Passaic Avenue is proceeding with several hundred apartments, mostly rental; ground-floor retail, garden space and a fitness center that will also offer memberships to the general public at what Evaristo called “very small fees.” The project is expected to be completed by 2027.

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Ron Leir | For The Observer

Ron Leir has been a newspaperman since the late ’60s, starting his career with The Jersey Journal, having served as a summer reporter during college. He became a full-time scribe in February 1972, working mostly as a general assignment reporter in all areas except sports, including a 3-year stint as an assistant editor for entertainment, features, religion, etc.

He retired from the JJ in May 2009 and came to The Observer shortly thereafter.

He is also a part-time actor, mostly on stage, having worked most recently with the Kearny-based WHATCo. and plays Sunday softball in Central Park, New York