Harrison Mayor Raymond J. McDonough, a champion of redevelopment during his decades-long tenure in the small Hudson County town, died of a massive heart attack Wednesday afternoon. He was 65.
McDonough was in his 20th year as mayor, after serving on the town council for 17.
"Harrison lost a native son, a tireless advocate and a dear friend," the town said in a release. "Raymond's door was always open, and he never passed up the opportunity to talk about Harrison and its residents."
McDonough's push for redevelopment was evident throughout his time in office for the town of 1.3 square miles, the town noted in a statement.
"Raymond was in the midst of a massive redevelopment effort designed to replace 250 acres of decaying and contaminated industrial land with residences, business and entertainment facilities and office space," the statement reads.
"Under Raymond's constant direction, the town saw the rise of Red Bull Arena, the Hampton Inn, Panasonic's R&D center the River-Park condos, Harrison Station, a 1,400-space parking garage, and many others. After many years of exhausting efforts, Raymond convinced the Port Authority of NY/NJ to rebuild the town's antiquated and inaccessible PATH station.''
The town also credited McDonough with creating a partnership with the Hudson Community Action Corp. to create a medical clinic for its uninsured residents. Construction is scheduled to begin in March, the town said.
Politicians throughout the state saluted his efforts.
"Ray McDonough was a great friend to so many of us throughout Hudson County and an extremely strong advocate for the town of Harrison," State Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto said in a statement. "He always stood up for the middle class and working men and women and had a great deal of integrity and compassion. He will be greatly missed, and I would like to extend my deepest condolences to his family and the town of Harrison."
Gov. Chris Christie also mourned his loss.
"This comes as a complete shock," he said in a statement. "Mayor McDonough was a genuine, kind-hearted soul, and someone who loved his hometown and its people deeply. He was a devoted public servant, who just wanted to help and do what was best for the tight-knit town where he lived his entire life."