With a brutal battle brewing in 2019, West New York Mayor Felix Roque continues to go on the offensive, targeting Commissioner Margarita Guzman over “wasting taxpayers’ money” on what he calls unsuccessful parks renovations.
“This is not personal. Like I’ve said, this is about doing good government and overseeing all the big projects that are going on in this town. This is taxpayers’ money: this is not my company paying for this, or my own pocket, but we have spent millions of dollars on renovations of parks,” Roque told HCV in an interview last week.
“One example of this is the water park that recently opened, and automatically, as soon as it opened, it failed. So there’s a lot of deficiencies in this park. We have an architectural park with a lot of deficiencies – so do I need somebody to have to get blame? Absolutely, she should’ve been all hands on deck and she wasn’t.”
West New York officials touted the new 16,000 square foot water park at Miller Stadium back in August, where everyone, including Roque, appeared pleased with the investment.
However, on Thursday, Roque continued to drive the point home that the project has been a total letdown and people need to be held accountable.
” … At the end of the day, we have architects, and they need to report to the town and say why are we wasting the taxpayers’ money? And that’s what this is all about. I want to make sure we take care of it, find out what the problem is, and not pay these people because they’re not doing a good job for this town.”
When asked to clarify what exactly failed or went wrong with the park, a project by RSC Architects with subcontract work done by Remington & Vernick Engineers, the mayor claimed it has been a disappointment across the board.
“It doesn’t work: it’s that simple. A brand new project and they turned it on – it’s leaking all over the place. Actually, the neighbor next door, Mr. Leon, showed us the basement – we have videos – the whole basement gets flooded as soon as the water park goes on.”
He further stated that such a deficiency indicates that the park tubing will have to be redone, potentially costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars since they do not come with any sort of warranty.
In a statement sent to HCV on Thursday night, Guzman called Roque’s perspective on the splash park “shameful and disgraceful” since he did not tell the whole backstory.
“ … It is not only shameful and disgraceful, but a disservice to the people of West New York for Mayor Roque to look to place blame on the Splash Park when he was fully onboard with the decision to open the park early. The Town of West New York continues to work closely with the contractor who has shown good faith to fix the shortcomings of the project,” she began.
“Additionally, the Town will not release payment to the contractor until it is certain that the job is completed 100% to the standards set forth by the Town. To launch a personal attack like this against me shows how out of touch Mayor Roque is with the progress being made in West New York. Under my leadership, the town’s parks have undergone extensive renovations including improvements to Miller Park, 50th Street Park, 2 new dog parks, and the Spray Park at the Municipal Pool.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a comment from Commissioner Margarita Guzman.