Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres received more than one thousand dollars in political contribution from the developer undertaking a controversial apartments project at the former Paterson Vista site within the Great Falls Historic District, according to state documents.
Torres received $1,050 in campaign contribution from the developer Green Tree Development Group on July 10th, 2015, according to his New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) filings.
Torres has been a big supporter of the project despite an ever growing opposition movement against the development that many say will forever change the historic character of the area and jeopardize the Silk City’s future.
The National Park Service informed the mayor in a letter the project threatens the Great Falls National Park. The federal government called on Torres to suspend the construction of 13 apartment buildings; however, Torres has said the project will bring in much needed tax revenue to the financially struggling city.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation also wrote a letter to the mayor calling on him to withdraw the approvals given to the project. The nonprofit says the historic view of the area will be “marred” by the development.
Late last year, the nonprofit and American Express announced a $300,000 grant to the Great Falls National Park to preserve the historic Hinchliffe Stadium, which is one of the few remaining places in the country where the legendary Negro League was allowed to hold baseball games.
The Friends of the Great Falls has initiated a lawsuit to nullify approvals given to the developer to block construction at the site. The developer has changed the designs of the buildings to address the concerns raised by the project’s critics; however, the design changes were not enough to sway the city’s historic preservation to approve the project.
A message left at Torres’ office went unanswered on Tuesday.