PATERSON, NJ – President Barack Obama’s trip to the Silk City brought joy to thousands of beleaguered Patersonians. But not everyone was happy about the impact of the president’s visit.
In the last-minute preparations for Obama, city authorities designated some streets as emergency no parking zones. As a result, at least 14 people – many of them 1st Ward residents hard-hit by the flooding - had their vehicles towed away on Sunday afternoon.
“I can’t believe they would do this,’’ said Daniel Champagnie, a resident of the Riverview Towers, the apartment complex overlooking the rivers where hundreds of people were evacuated last week. “They wouldn’t let park in the lot” at the apartment complex, he said, "so I left my car on Temple Street.’’
Champagnie said he had last checked on his vehicle on Saturday at about noon. On Sunday, when he went to his car, it was gone. Sometime after noon on Saturday, he said, the city must have posted emergency no parking signs on Temple Street. His vehicle was among those towed.
City officials said they regret the situation, acknowledging that people in the neighborhood already endured enough.
“They’ll all be getting their cars back,’’ said City Council President Anthony Davis, who represents the 1st Ward, including the Riverview Towers.
For now, the vehicle owners still owe fees to the private towing company. “We’re trying to figure out what we could do to reimburse the towing costs,’’ Jones said. “We’re not required to do that, but I feel it’s necessary considering what they’ve endured.’’
Officials were not sure exactly how long prior to the towing the no-parking signs were posted. Although Paterson had been expecting the President’s visit for several day, the details were closely guarded untl the day of the tour.
“We weren’t informed what route he would be taking,’’ said Davis. The emergency no-parking signs, probably went up on Saturday night, he said.