Former governor James McGreevey’s prison re-entry program will stay put at the controversial Montgomery Street site through December 2018, according to a settlement agreement approved by the city council on Tuesday night.
McGreevey had attempted to move his program out of 147 Montgomery Street to downtown Paterson. His move was prompted by an ongoing probe by United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that saw FBI agents raid City Hall and cart away boxes of documents.
Former mayor Jose “Joey” Torres, who spent $180,000 in federal grant funds to renovate the privately-owned church building, opposed McGreevey’s move. Both the city and the church, the William H. Butler Help Center, filed lawsuits against the New Jersey Reentry Corporation.
McGreevey’s organization is leasing the space from the church.
Judge Thomas LaConte issued an order in Dec. 2016 forcing McGreevey to remain at the site. The former governor wanted to begin operating out of the downtown Paterson building at the start of 2017.
McGreevey’s organization agreed to settle both lawsuits by agreeing to stay at the site through Dec. 2018. Even before McGreevey’s moved into the location there was controversy.
Torres used public works employees to renovate the private church. Neighborhood residents put up resistance against having a prison re-entry program in their midst. The disgraced mayor ignored residents’ concerns and forcefully placed the re-entry program in the neighborhood.
McGreevey struck a more conciliatory note with the residents. He came to City Hall and vowed to work with neighbors and address their concerns.
The city has moved other services to the building.
The city has re-located the Paterson Neighborhood Assistance Office (NAO) to the Montgomery Street site. It is also seeking to open a satellite Division of Health office at the same location, according to municipal officials.