The mayor and Town Council have unanimously passed a resolution to rename New County Road “Paul Amico Way” in honor of the former mayor who served 14 consecutive terms.
“There will be no more New County Road,” said Mayor Michael Gonnelli, during the April 10 council meeting. “It will be the Paul Amico Way.”
“We were having a lot of confusion in that area of the town because there are four streets with the name county on them,” said Gonnelli. The roads included New County Road Extension, New County Road, County Road, and County Avenue. Gonnelli said that the town sought to make a change after he was approached by the county executive who asked if there was someone in town that deserved to have a street named after them.
Amico served as mayor of Secaucus for a total of 28 years from 1963 until his retirement in 1991. He arrived in Secaucus at the age of six from Little Italy in New York City. Next week, on April 23, Amico celebrates his 99th birthday.
“It is a great honor.” – Paul Amico
“I am honored, surprised, and very appreciative of both the town and the county working together to do something like that for me,” said the former mayor. “It is a great honor.”
Amico thanked the mayor and Town Council members for the tribute.
“I am a fellow who at one time as a youngster used to ride that road to deliver medicine and special delivery mail to Laurel Hill at the other end.”
Amico first worked at Marra’s Drug Store and eventually opened his own business named Paul’s Diner. After serving in World War II, he first ran for office in the 1950s. He said that in serving as mayor he wanted to establish the same type of reputation that he had for his diner which he said was “very well thought of.”
Amico led a period of economic growth and development. Under his leadership, the town of Secaucus transitioned from farm country to include a business center while retaining the residential elements. He was inducted into the NJ State League of Municipalities Elected Officials Hall of Fame.
His nephew Dan Amico, who served as town clerk a number of years when his uncle was mayor, said that his success could be attributed to his discipline, organizational skills, and clarity of focus on working toward his goals. Dan said that when his uncle took office the town did not have senior citizen housing, a high school, enough sewers, or an industrial tax base and that little by little he built up revenue to help transform the community.
“For his first official act as mayor he cut the ribbon on a second bank in town,” said Dan. “He did a lot to clean up, to make the town more attractive, to make it more conducive to industry, and to make it more conducive for people to move here.”
Dan said his uncle treated the town like he was the head of a family and worked to make it a healthy, secure, and safe place to live.
“The town is a really, really nice town,” said Dan. “People here are happy and I think he has a lot to do with that.”
Mayor Amico noted that, “Someone told me in the funeral parlor the other day, ‘Paul, you are the guy who put the wheels on this town’…I took my assignment seriously. I was interested and concerned. I wanted to do the best that I could.”
New DPW Superintendent
The council unanimously passed a resolution to appoint Kevin O’Conner as the Superintendent of Public Works at an annual salary of $105,000. He most recently held the position of assistant superintendent and has served a total of 26 years in the DPW. Gonnelli said that there were three applicants, one dropped out, and O’Conner was the only one who had the state certification to serve in the position.
In March, the Town Council reorganized the Department of Public Works, primarily to return to the superintendent of the DPW day-to-day management and reestablish supervisory duties that were removed in 2006 by the previous administration.
“When I was head of the DPW… I’ve always thought that Kevin would be the person in that seat,” said Gonnelli. The mayor said that his college education, training at Rutgers, great people skills and computer savvy makes him well suited for the job.
School street drop off, parking, and playground equipment
The town introduced an ordinance to authorize $260,000 from the NJ transportation trust fund to create a 30 foot roadway to ease congestion in front of the Clarendon Elementary School and create a special drop off area. The town seeks to have the work completed by September.
Another ordinance was introduced to prohibit parking in and around Shetik field, which will be the home of the Patriots. It will prohibit parking on Jefferson Avenue between 4 p.m. and 12 a.m. to those using the field.
Both ordinances will have a public hearing on May 8 before adoption.
In accordance with the mayor and Town Council’s plans to upgrade every park in the town, a resolution to authorize the purchase of new playground equipment for Buchmuller Park passed unanimously. The playground equipment design is that of a barn, which is consistent with the town’s history as a pig farming town. The park will also have two large sunflowers that spray water, new picnic tables, new basketball backboards, and rubber safety surface material.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at email@example.com.