The city’s recreation commission, created two years ago by former mayor Jose “Joey” Torres, is now defunct. Municipal officials said the Paterson Recreation Commission has not been meeting on a regular basis.
It’s not clear when the last time the commission held a meeting.
“They do not meet. They are not meeting,” said business administrator Nellie Pou last week. She was responding to a school teacher’s query about the commission.
The commission stopped meeting because there is no board chairperson, said officials. Moreover, the board does not have a full complement of members, according to the business administrator.
“You get a chair when the members come together. Who appoints the chair?” asked council president Ruby Cotton.
The mayor appoints the chairperson for the board, said Pou. There were suggestions the chairman, assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, who is the recreation coordinator for the city, has not been attending meetings.
Wimberly on Thursday said he resigned from the commission in the early part of 2017. At the time he was juggling a number of responsibilities and lacked the time to preside over the board.
“I really didn’t see which direction the board was going,” said Wimberly. The board was doomed for failure from the very start.
Torres attempted and failed to impose a recreation tax on property owners. The board was presumably created to manage the funds that would have been raised through that tax. “I think that was part of the impetus for it,” said Wimberly.
Mayor Jane Williams-Warren will have to figure out whether to re-constitute the recreation board by appointing all its members and selecting a new chairperson. The board has powers to impose fees on people to use local parks and fields.
“Hopefully the new mayor will put it back together so they can start meeting again,” said Cotton.
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