“I’ve given the city notice that I will be leaving as of Aug. 5,” he said.
Fussa has worked with the City of Bayonne since 1997, first as a consultant, then as a member of the city planning department in 2002.
“This is a good time for me to leave,” he said. “The city is on the upswing.”
Although reluctant to take credit for numerous redevelopment projects large and small, Fussa said the cooperative effort of the city’s planning officials and city council contributed to the upgrading of properties that were either vacant or underused.
Over the last decade, Fussa has been instrumental in advising the city and various boards on aspects of development, including issuing numerous reports on proposed projects and upgrades.
Over those years, Fussa has had a say in outlining much of the city’s most successful projects, from the development of the first movie theater in more than a decade to the development of a new big-box-store mall in the depths of a down economy.
His input helped generate development, and city officials say he was meticulous in examining every element of a project, large or small, often paying as much attention to small details as large.
He oversaw a number of key redevelopment plans that included highway redevelopment as well as areas near several of the transportation hubs. One of the more innovative redevelopment plans was called “a scattered site plan” that cobbled together vacant lots and other underutilized properties throughout the city. By giving these the distinction of areas in need of redevelopment, the city was able to attract development. As a result, several of these thought-to- be-hopeless sites saw new development.
Some of the more successful projects were near the city’s gateways especially uptown Broadway where an old bus station is in the process of being replaced by a new Walgreens, to join a new bank, new Quick Chek, and redeveloped diner.
Some redevelopment efforts such as the one implemented by the Bayonne Local Redevelopment Authority six years ago were designed to urge property owners to push ahead with plans that seemed stalled. Although Fussa was working on an update to the city’s master plan over the last several years, this remains a work in progress and something for future planners to finish.
Fussa was director of city planning since 2002. Prior to that—from 1997—he served as senior planner for Heyer Gruel and Associates. Starting in 1995, he was intern/planner at the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority. He had s six-year stint as a senior counselor at Drew University, starting in 1989.
A 1989 graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Fussa received a Masters in Urban Planning from NYU in 1996, and a Masters in City and Regional Planning from Rutgers University Edward J. Boustein School of Planning and Public Policy in 1997.
“He did a very good job,” said former Economic Development Director Michael O’Connor.
Fussa said his new post provides him with a good opportunity.
“John Fussa is a great guy and irreplaceable,” said former city attorney Jay Coffey, who worked side by side with Fussa for almost a decade. “He’s smart as a whip, organized, and one of the city’s great worker bees.”
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.