September 29, 2013 Mayor Thomas Micozzie sat down to answer questions about the township that has been his hometown for his entire life. He stated that Upper Darby is a township that still ranks as one of the largest in the country and like many areas of the Northeast has seen a change in their communities. Major cities have seen shifts in demographics which include housing, income and immigration. As mayor, Thomas Micozzie has seen firsthand these changes and believes that Upper Darby has been successful in addressing the issues. Upper Darby is actively working on answering the needs of its constituents and that of businesses in the area Mayor Micozzie states. “The business hub of 69th Street is coming back strong with the addition of new anchor stores and the possibility of another large department store” Mayor Micozzie shared.
Recently on Facebook,(www.facebook.com) the question was presented to readers what they saw as the biggest problems they saw in Upper Darby and overwhelming it was property maintenance and taxes. Readers wanted to know what could be done to clean up vacant and abandoned properties. Mayor Micozzie presented to me the email system that Upper Darby is using right now for neighbors to voice their complaints. (www.upperdarby.org) Each morning the system is purged of requests and complaints. The requests are then separated by department and category. The departments then have 48 hours to investigate the problem. The problem with vacant or abandoned properties is in finding who is responsible for the upkeep. Homes that are going up for sale, the township has created a partnership with local realtors to keep the property maintained. Properties that are being foreclosed on are more difficult. If the property has gone back to the mortgage holder, the township does contact that company and requests the property be maintained or face penalties of $300.00 to $1000. 00 a day. Foreclosed properties can take time but if all else fails Upper Darby now has a relationship with community service to clean up the debris or other clean up situations on those properties. If it is a more difficult problem such as boarding up windows, township employees would be used “then the township will place a lien on the property to have what funds we used will be returned” said Mayor Micozzie.
Mayor Thomas Micozzie was appointed Mayor of Upper Darby in 2009 by Council to fill the unexpired term of R. Raymond Shay. He was elected to a four year term in 2011. Micozzie had already served Upper Darby in various public service jobs such as Fire Department Chief, he also was a licensed nursing home administrator, and Mayor Micozzie worked for twenty-eight years in the long term healthcare industry with several disciplines including facilities management, purchasing and administration and served on the Upper Darby council since 1988. Micozzie believes strongly in serving one’s community and said he was raised in a tradition of public service.
Today Micozzie works to improve the quality of life for the people of Upper Darby. Mayor Micozzie states that “Quality of life (for Upper Darby residents) is a great concern for Council and my office.” Quality of life problems includes the parking of illegal vehicles on public streets, to trash on the street to cleaning up vacant properties. Mayor Micozzie states that quality of life though can’t only fall on the shoulders of the township. “Taking personal responsibility for yourself and your property helps to ensure a good quality of life for yourself and your neighbors.” The township does work with people who own property though, who find themselves in with violations related property upkeep.
Another source of frustration is taxes. Mayor Micozzie disclosed that the 69th street shopping area and the transportation system is still a major hub for Upper Darby. To relieve some of the burden on the taxpayers, anchor stores are being brought in to that area will help to broaden the tax base in the area. Recently Burlington Coat Factory and Ross Department store moved into the anchor places on the boulevard. “We are always looking for ways to upgrade and bring business back to 69th Street. “ Micozzie said. “We have met with developers and have seen the change from shopping in malls to shopping districts like 69th Street. We are currently looking to further the advancement of the shopping area with another big name department store.” Taxes would be reduced or maintained with the advent of rebuilding this shopping Mecca. Although Mayor Micozzie wasn’t able to say which large department store is in negotiations with the township there is an attraction to bringing big department stores to 69th Street. Mayor Micozzie said that there is still plenty of room for small locally owned business to succeed. “That’s what makes this shopping area unique, the variety of stores one can shop at” Mayor Micozzie stated.
Elections are coming soon to the area and Mayor Micozzie was asked why the area should vote for the current members of the township council. He gave a few reasons why, “One, we are fiscally responsible, Two, we respond to our constituents, (i.e. The comment and request email system on www.upperdarby.org) and three “we are people from the neighborhood. Many of us grew up here, have raised our families here and will continue to live here. “In 2012 Micozzie stated, that council passed new ordinances governing rental properties such as duplexes and triplexes. “We listened to our constituents and made changes to stop the development of these properties in our neighborhoods.”
In the coming years Mayor Micozzie sees Upper Darby continues to grow, continuing to be a nice neighborhood to raise a family and a neighborhood of citizens who look after each other by helping those in need.
Mayor Micozzie has been married to Susan for thirty four years. They have two married daughters, Nina and Nicole and three grandchildren, Matthew, Michael & David.
Mayor Micozzie currently lives in the Westbrook Park section of Upper Darby Township.