Paterson Council Rescinds Great Falls Deal
The Herald News
September 27, 2001
PATERSON - After months of
sputtering and gasping for breath, the Historic Horizons housing project planned for the Great Falls Historic
District is finally dead.
But it took $550,000 of taxpayer money to put the development out of its
In an 8-to-1 vote, the City Council rescinded the contract that designated Regan Development
Corp. of Ardsley, N.Y., as the corporation to build a 57-unit, two-family townhouse complex on the former site
of Allied Textile Printing, a seven-acre tract adjacent to the Great Falls.
opponents of the much-debated plan celebrated the victory.
"This was a backroom deal that was
packaged by the old boy's club and rammed down the public's throats," said David Soo, a member of the
Paterson Friends of the Great Falls, which sued to stop the project. "This was the biggest giveaway in
Paterson's history. It was done in City Hall without request for proposals or input from the public.
Obviously, this sends a message."
At Wednesday night's meeting, some council members expressed
concern about the $550,000 settlement- which reimbursed Regan for the costs related to developing the site -
but mostly seemed relieved to bring closure to what turned out to be a six-year boondoggle.
not ideal, and it's not perfect," said Councilman Thomas Rooney, explaining why he favored a settlement
over litigation. "But we don't have two years or four years to fool around with that property. We have to
get it back."
Councilman Aslon Goow cast the only vote against the resolution.
Corporation Counsel Yolanda Adrianzen advised the council that it would not be able to break the contract
without a long and costly legal battle.
Preservationists, who spoke at the meeting, urged the council
to try and break the contract with the developers without paying a settlement.
Among other reasons, the
city could have broken the contract because the developer still doesn't have Planning Board approval, Soo
said. Other preservationists said the council was too quick to surrender the fight.
believe they are giving the right advice to you," said Charles Ferrer, referring to the city's team of
lawyers. "I really think that you should get another attorney from the outside, one that doesn't work
with the administration, to look at this."
Some council members said the contract was just poorly
"I have seen such a contract written with a developer that had all of the developer's
interests in mind," said Councilman Jeffery Jones.
The spokesman for Mayor Martin G. Barnes called
the decision "unfortunate" and said that "certain obstructionists in the community and a city
council that doesn't do anything" brought death to the project.
"When it's all said and done,
we are still left with an undeveloped site that cost our community a great deal of money, so I don't think
this is a great accomplishment for anyone," said spokesman Bob Grant. "We still have to make that
property a ratable."
The site was the home to both the Colt Gun Mill, where the first repeating
firearm was manufactured in 1836, and John Ryle's silk mill, where the first skein of silk was made. The area
was destroyed in 1983 by a series of fires and has since become an overgrown campground for the homeless.
pitched a proposal that envisions the site as a well-maintained park and tourist attraction.
is now set for the city to move forward with plans build something on the site that capitalizes on the tract's
historic significance and the beauty of the Great Falls, said Soo.
"For more than 200 years,
Paterson has been run for the benefit of a few rich people," said Soo. "Now, we are going to do
something for all the people. We have an opportunity to build on our great history and make the city a