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Paterson councilmen Mendez, Velez clash over renaming Park Avenue to Dominican Republic Way | Paterson Times

Paterson councilmen Mendez, Velez clash over renaming Park Avenue to Dominican Republic Way

park-avenue

The proposal to rename a stretch of Park Avenue to Dominican Republic Way has ignited a vicious rivalry between councilmen Alex Mendez and Luis Velez.

Both men claim each introduced the idea for renaming Park Avenue to honor the city’s largest Latino community.

Mendez said he broached the subject with the city council’s ad hoc street naming committee chairman Kenneth Morris at the beginning of the year. He said Morris told him to hold off on proposing a street renaming because a controversy was raging over another renaming at the time.

Velez said he campaigned on the idea. He said he proposed the renaming to Morris within weeks of taking office and then collected the needed signatures to push the process forward.

“I went house by house to get signatures,” said Velez on Wednesday morning.

Mendez said the idea to rename the stretch to Dominican Republic Way belongs to him and Velez is attempting to seize the idea and make it his.

“There’s a whole effort to push me out of this idea,” said Mendez. He said he proposed the idea back in January. “At that moment councilman Velez wasn’t even a certified candidate,” he said.

“I brought it forward before you were a councilman, before you were sitting at that chair,” said Mendez.

Velez said the idea goes further back. He said former councilman Julio Tavarez tried to rename Park Avenue four years ago.

Mendez said Tavarez was attempting to rename Park Avenue to Juan Pablo Duarte Drive not Dominican Republic Way.

Velez slammed Mendez for not going out to collect the needed signatures to push the process forward. He also said Mendez is attempting to secure credit for the renaming to bolster his support in the city’s Dominican community in preparation for a mayoral run.

Mendez is of Dominican heritage while Velez is Puerto Rican. Mendez views himself as the de facto leader of the city’s Dominican community while Velez represents the 5th Ward which has the most Dominicans of any of the six wards, according to political strategists.

Both Velez and Mendez want to be viewed as champion of the Dominican community. There are as many as 45,000 Dominicans living in Paterson. The city has the highest concentration of Dominicans outside of the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic’s consulate general has also established a satellite office in the Silk City, according to the resolution.

“Both my colleagues are right,” said Morris. He said Mendez approached him at the beginning of the year.

Mendez introduced the concept, but Velez did the leg work, said Morris. Velez obtained the needed signatures to move the resolution forward, he said.

Velez said he also wrote up a history of the Dominican community in Paterson.

Morris said both men deserve equal credit for the job. He proposed adding two clauses inside the resolution crediting each of them while the resolution is sponsored by the council as a whole.

The resolution will add an additional name tag to Park Avenue running from Carrol to Straight Streets.

Both Mendez and Velez have been disputing the issue over social media. Mendez said a “nasty” letter emerged after the Dominican flag raising that sought to “destroy” his reputation.

“They are calling me a liar and saying I stole this project,” said Mendez. “There was no need to do that,” said Mendez. He said the letter has been widely viewed on social media.

Velez said he wrote the letter and defended its content as true. Mendez said he may take legal actions for the letter.

Both men argued over the issue at the steps of the City Hall on Wednesday morning after Tuesday’s marathon meeting.

“Why do we have to go so low? Why can’t we do this together?” said Mendez.

Mendez also recognized the triviality of battling over a street naming by stating the important issues are improving quality of life on Park Avenue and reducing crime.

Email: jay@patersontimes.com

This report was updated on Sept. 15th, 2016 at 8 a.m.

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  • Plumber

    then you wonder was Paterson is in the shape it's in especially with these councilmen fighting like children, (no disrespect to the children), Paterson has more important issue's but yet the council has time to entertained this bullsh*t, these is nothing wrong with the street name the way it is, "Park Ave", we do not have the time or money to change names of streets when it will not return any profits back to the city, its all for appeasement.

  • Dave Cubby

    The worst part is that they're not even arguing over whether to name the street or which one to name, but over who gets credit for it. Putting aside the fact that they're not on the council to represent Dominicans, but their Wards (and in the case of an at-large councilman, the entire city), the best way to be a champion of Paterson's Dominican residents is to give them a community where they feel secure. Until that happens, everything else is just pandering. You're better than this.

    • Yogi Zuna

      This is just one more thing for Paterson to be ashamed of.

      • Crisis Santiago

        Frfrf smh

  • Robert Martin

    Paterson is a complete shit hole period. Nobody and I mean nobody (Latinos and Blacks) do not care about the city, if they did they would be in complete rage about changing things. They like it the way it is, a drug infested, prostitute, crime ridden homeless, poverty stricken illegal immigrant, crooked law enforcement, dirty politicians of a shit hole… Put that on the table and see the answer, the ignorance or even the ridicule you will get…..

  • Robert Martin

    I'll say it again!! Paterson is a complete shit hole period. Nobody and I mean nobody (Latinos and Blacks) do not care about the city, if they did they would be in complete rage about changing things. They like it the way it is, a drug infested, liquor store on every corner, prostitute, crime ridden homeless, poverty stricken illegal immigrant, crooked law enforcement, dirty politicians, no resorces, no recreations or community direction for the youth of a shit hole… Put that on the table and see the answer, the ignorance or even the ridicule you will get…..

  • Crisis Santiago

    This is the most dummmest idea fix the streeet less violence just because it's alot Dominican dat means to change the street name if its like dat why don't ya change name in summmer and oak calll it Puerto roc I thinks that would b unfair for everyone race that my input

  • Jose Djnice Calle

    How bout just keeping it named PARK AVE …and focus on cleaning up the drug problems that are infesting the city …..couple of morons …..theres bigger fish to fry insted of arguing the name of the street

  • n3x07

    I'm dominican but I think it's stupid to rename a street with a sort of general name to a name that represent pretty much just a nationality, I think the people over there should not acept such as thing, I think is offensive.

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