PATERSON, NJ – First Ward resident Nadia Mahand was upset about the public library branch on North Main Street that’s been closed since last summer’s historic flooding.

“The children in this area need a library,’’ she said. “The nearest library is way up Union Boulevard or Broadway. That’s too far. Now, they can’t go around the corner to the library to use the computers, do their book reports or essays. They need that.’’

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Mahand expressed her concerns at the 1st Ward Quality of Life meeting on February 22 at School 28, the first in a series of six sessions designed to get residents’ input as municipal officials craft a plan to deal with Paterson’s quality of life issues

About 30 people attended the 1st Ward session. Among the issues put on the table were abandoned or neglected buildings, garbage-strewn lots owned by the city, drug dealing, the non-responsiveness of some city officials and the conduct of the drivers of downtown Paterson jitney buses.

The event was moderated by Donna Nelson-Ivy, director of Paterson’s Department of Health & Human Services, which is sponsoring the quality of life meetings. Nelson-Ivy wrote down residents’ responses and set the tone of the meeting by explaining the potential of a community engagement strategy.

“We are all in this together,” she said.

Some folks were disappointed in the turnout. They felt more people should have come out to discuss the many issues confronting the 1st Ward.

 “I have been at these council meetings where people who were not homeowners have been very disrespected because they are not taxpayers,’’ said resident Linda Stancil when asked she thought there were not more people present. “But anybody who pays anything, if you get a check or paycheck or anything, there are taxes somewhere.’’

“This is, I think, one of the reasons why you don’t get an outpouring of people to come to these community meetings,’’ Stancil added. “I’m not saying this is the only reason, there may be other reasons, but this could be one of the reasons. They are not addressing people who rent.”

City Council President Anthony Davis, who represents the 1st Ward, urged the audience to remain focused on what the city and residents can accomplish with mutual cooperation.  “Instead of us getting angry and upset at who is not here, let’s think about it,’’ Davis said. He mentioned that he has been down to Trenton twice in recent weeks and met with state officials.

“They are ready to help Paterson,’’ Davis said. “But we have to learn to help ourselves.”

Here’s the schedule for the other quality of life meetings, all of which will be held from on Wednesday evenings from 6:30 – 8:30 pm:

                Ward 2 – February 29 at School 27

                Ward 3 – March 7 at School 26

                Ward 4 – March 14 at Rosa Parks performing arts high school

                Ward 5 – March 21 at Eastside High School

                Ward 6 – March 28 at School 25