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ELIA SEEKS RESTORATION OF PARKS, PUBLIC WORKS POST

Mayor Irene J. Elia is asking the City Council to restore the controversial position of deputy director of parks and public works director's position, which has been eliminated, restored and eliminated again in the past year.

The Council will consider the request when it meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Parks and Public Works Director Paul G. Colangelo has found the $43,212 needed to fund salary and benefits from within his departmental budget.

"Paul Colangelo went through the budget with a fine tooth comb and decided what he could give up," said City Administrator Albert T. Joseph, who called the deputy position "vital."

"We've tightened the belt and put aside some small special projects we figure we can wait on. One was a fencing project at the 68th-70th Street Park. The neighbors didn't want a fence there anyway. The other was backstops at the hardball diamonds at Hyde Park. We figure we can address them with in-house remediation rather than through an outside fencing contractor," Colangelo said.

The Council has been systematically eliminating departmental deputies because some members believe the city workforce is top heavy with supervisors and short on people who do the work.

Elia and Colangelo believe proper supervision increases productivity. Without a deputy, Colangelo is the only non-union supervisor in the department. He said the department definitely needs more non-union supervision.

And, Colangelo said the parks and public works director is not a desk supervisor. He's out on the road all day. Since the department is responsible for all city streets, sidewalks, bridges, parks and buildings, workers on any given day are spread out all over the city.

The "terrible" early winter has wreaked havoc on city streets, forcing crews to fight potholes that are "as bad as they've ever been," he said.

Colangelo said streets crews are laying down cold patch -- "but it's only a Band-Aid" -- and hoping for an early spring.

"I think this department, more than any other, needs another supervisor out there on the streets. We hope we have the support there from the Council," Colangelo said.

Council Chairman Anthony F. Quaranto said since Colangelo was able to find the money within the spending limit set by the Council, he thought the lawmakers might be willing to restore the deputy post. He said by cutting the post, the Council forced the administration's hand to decide how high a priority it was. By cutting out other things, the administration is now forcing the Council's hand, he said.

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