Jeff Pescosolido will take over as the Elm City’s new director of the Department of Public Works, according to a Tuesday afternoon announcement by Mayor Toni Harp.
The DPW, which has gone without a director for four months, is in charge of maintaining and managing the city’s infrastructure and public assets. Its responsibilities include street sweeping, trash collection, snow plowing and road maintenance. With over 30 years of public works experience in New Haven and other cities, Pescosolido will oversee seven different divisions of the DPW and is responsible for personnel and budget decisions.
“Normally, people think of public works as just a maintenance crew,” Pescosolido said. “We are going to bring this department to new heights and build better communities and better public works in the area.”
Pescosolido had been deputy director of operations in New Haven’s DPW since the summer of 1999. Prior to that, he served as the acting director of the DPW from 1998 to 1999, giving him experience in the role he now occupies full time.
City Hall spokesperson Laurence Grotheer said Pescolosido’s vast experience in the city was key to his selection for the position.
Michael Carter, who served as acting director of the DPW before Pescosolido was appointed and is currently the city’s Chief Administrative Officer, said he expects Pescosolido to expand the DPW’s responsibilities in New Haven.
“We have got a lot of work to do,” Carter said. “We want to do more recycling. We want to do more training for street mechanics.”
Carter’s other goals for the DPW include improving storm equipment by purchasing sweepers and packers and finishing several sidewalk repair projects.
Grotheer echoed Carter’s sentiment, noting that Harp saw Pescosolido’s appointment as an opportunity for the department to upgrade the city’s equipment and technology. Grotheer specified new computerized monitors for gauging the distribution of pavement treatments as an example of one such technology. These monitors will make sure only the necessary amount of material is distributed, helping to prevent waste.
Pescosolido stressed the importance of efficiency.
“Recently, the mayor announced we picked up nine brand-new snowplow trucks,” he said. “With that type of control, we are going to have less waste. Computerized operations are going to be more efficient and save us money.”
Pescolodido also said he is intent on reorganizing the department internally. He wants to put a greater focus on smaller repairs and on bringing back smaller labor jobs.
Grotheer was optimistic about Pescdolido’s transition into the job, noting that the DPW was managed effectively during the search for a new director after Doug Arndt was let go in August 2014.
“Jeff has been taking direction from me daily, and we have weekly staff meetings,” Carter said. “This is a good transition, and we know we made the right choice.”
Pescosolido went through a rigorous interview process before receiving the position, according to Grotheer. Twenty-five applicants underwent over five months of interviewing before Harp settled on Pescosolido.
Pescosolido said he hopes city residents will recognize that the changes he’s planned benefit them in the long run.
“People are always afraid of change, but if we introduce it slow I think we’ll be okay,” he said. “We’re trying to acquire special funds that will bring us to the level we need so that we can provide additional services that way. Our staff has been around for a while, so I don’t think we’re going to have any issues.”