City Hires Firm To Study Riverfront Development

The Record
By:  Michael Clancy, Staff
Sept. 17, 1998

PATERSON -- The City Council has voted to hire a consultant to determine how to best develop the waterfront along the dirty and long-neglected Passaic River.

But despite the vote last week, the hiring of the Waterfront Center of Washington, D.C., is far from assured. The council said the $30,000 fee should come either from money raised by the Urban Enterprise Zone or from the federal Urban History Initiative grant. That request still must be approved by governing bodies that dole out those monies.

Councilman Thomas C. Rooney Jr., who wrote the ordinance, said a study could help the city coordinate development plans for the stretch of the river that flows over the Great Falls and meanders along the 1st Ward and lower Main Street.

"If we have proper usages for the property, we could develop it as a tourist attraction," Rooney said. "A lot of people come and see the falls but we don't make any money on it. The potential for tourism along the river is enormous, especially up by the falls and the historic district."

The Waterfront Center has served as a consultant for waterfront projects as far away as New Zealand.

Rooney first was approached with the idea months ago by community leaders who opposed a plan by Regan Development of Yonkers, N.Y., to build a $23 million development on the Allied Textile Processing site that borders the river. If approved, Regan would build 190 units of housing, 30,000 square feet of commercial space, a river walk, a cafe, and a city-funded museum.

Opponents, accusing the city of wasting a golden opportunity, have said officials should step back and examine the best use for the site. Among the suggestions has been a historic theme park where the city could showcase its history as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.

City officials said Regan's proposal is the best use for the site, since it provides much-needed housing to residents and tax dollars for the city's coffers.