The Paterson Friends of the Great Falls filed a lawsuit in the New Jersey Superior Court on Monday morning to kill the development of apartment complexes at the abandoned Paterson Vista site.
David Soo, head of the Paterson Friends of the Great Falls, said he is seeking to invalidate the planning board approval for the project. “Some developments were born to die this is one of them,” said Soo on Monday afternoon.
The developer Greentree Development Group is not aware of the lawsuit, said Doug Fenichel, spokesman for the Lakewood-based company seeking to build the 156 apartments at the former Paterson Vista site close to the Great Falls National Park.
The National Park Service in a letter dated January 21st, 2016 to mayor Jose “Joey” Torres warned the housing development would “degrade” the park and pose a “significant threat to the setting and character” of the park.
The letter stated the city failed to notify the park service as is required under the agreement signed between the city and the U.S. Department of Interior. The letter urged the mayor to suspend construction at the site.
Torres broke ground on the project in late December. He has since then expressed supported for the project to bring in tax revenue. The city’s historic preservation commission is scheduled to discuss the matter at its meeting today at 6:30 p.m. at the Great Falls Visitor Center on McBride Avenue.
The chairman of the park’s advisory committee Bob Guarasci said he would like to see the city and the developer work out a compromise agreement. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., who pushed for the national park designation, told the Paterson Press, he would like to see some sort of a compromise as well.
Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club, expressed support for Soo’s lawsuit. “We are glad Friends of Paterson Great Falls are suing because we must uphold the integrity of the historic park district. We have fought for over 20 years to project the park, from stopping the ATP site to getting its national park designation. This plan turns all of the work we have done to preserve the park on its head,” he said.
Tittel said he is worried the city might lose the National Park designation for the Great Falls. “The Sierra Club is also looking to eventually join the lawsuit against the development or file an amicus brief to support it if this this dangerous plan continues,” he said.