PATERSON, N.J. – Today, U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) released the following statement regarding the announcement from U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on the appointments of Dr. John Lawrence and Dr. Hilary Ballon to the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park (NHP) Advisory Commission.

"As a founding stakeholder of the Great Falls, I am always proud to support highly qualified individuals who are dedicated to carrying out our long-term blueprint. Ensuring the best individuals who are committed to the conservation efforts in the Great Falls is important, which is why I strongly supported Dr. Lawrence to succeed Jim Pepper as national parks expert and Dr. Ballon to succeed Leonard Zax as historic preservation expert," said Rep. Pascrell. "I want to thank Jim and Leonard for their exemplary work on the park and congratulate the two new board members, who have both demonstrated a long history as devoted public servants who are invested in the future of New Jersey."

"My family connections to Paterson go back over a century, which is why I have a deep personal commitment to the Great Falls Park," said Lawrence, a 1966 Eastside High graduate and the former chief of staff to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who spent 38 years working in Congress. "I deeply appreciate having the opportunity to serve on the Advisory Commission, which has been provided by the Park's champion, Congressman Bill Pascrell."

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"This extraordinary project captures Paterson's historic legacy, which became a model for the industrialization of the country. I am honored to contribute to the park's inspiring mission," said Ballon, a University Professor at New York University and the granddaughter of an immigrant who worked in Paterson’s silk mills.

Rep. Pascrell first introduced the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park Act in 2006.  This bipartisan legislation designated a National Historical Park at the Great Falls in Paterson. The bill passed the House of Representatives in 2007 and was signed into law by President Obama in March of 2009 as part of the larger Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009.

Text of Rep. Pascrell's letter of recommendation for Lawrence and Ballon is below.

November 23, 2016

The Honorable Sally Jewell
Secretary, Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240

Dear Secretary Jewell:

Thank you for your long-standing commitment to protecting and conserving our natural resources and federal lands. As you may know, I have prioritized the preservation of the Great Falls in Paterson, New Jersey and helped bring the Great Falls into the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) in 2009. You may be aware that there will soon be two vacancies on the Great Falls’ Federal Advisory Commission. I am writing to urge your expedited consideration of Dr. John A. Lawrence, Ph.D. for the national parks expert position and Dr. Hilary Ballon, Ph.D. for the historic preservation expert position. Both individuals have a long history of supporting public spaces and have demonstrated a strong commitment to preservation. Further, they are dedicated public servants invested in the future of New Jersey.

Dr. Lawrence has worked on national park, memorial, and wilderness issues for more than 30 years. His commitment to the National Park Service dates back to his time as the staff director for the House Committee on Natural Resources, which oversees all national parks. He played a major role in the creation and development of two National Park Service units, the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California, and Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial in Concord, California. He currently serves on the board of NPS “Friends” groups for Port Chicago and for the Great Falls. He has extensive experience working closely with both political leaders and park management on the planning and management of parks.  Additionally, he has traveled widely throughout the parks system both as a congressional staff – examining wilderness and other potential park designations – and recreationally.  As a result, he has a wide knowledge of the challenges facing national parks in their development, management, and maintenance. He was born and raised in Paterson, New Jersey, and holds a Ph.D. in American History from the University of California-Berkeley and an undergraduate degree from Oberlin College.  He is currently a Visiting Professor at the University of California’s Washington, D.C. campus.

Dr. Ballon’s passion for urbanism and architecture that highlight historic preservation is demonstrated through her work as a University Professor at New York University (NYU). Before joining NYU she was a professor at Columbia University (1985-2007), where she taught a groundbreaking seminar on the urban development of New York City and served as the Chair of the Department of Art History and Archaeology. She also wrote the acclaimed book New York’s Pennsylvania Stations, which takes readers on a guided tour through New York’s fascinating history of civic architecture. She curated the companion exhibition, Gateway to Metropolis: New York’s Pennsylvania Stations, at Columbia University. Dr. Ballon holds a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an undergraduate degree from Princeton University. In addition to these significant professional achievements, Dr. Ballon is also the granddaughter of an immigrant who worked in Paterson’s silk mills.

It is absolutely critical that the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park’s Federal Advisory Commission is comprised of the best individuals who are dedicated to conservation efforts in the Great Falls. That is why I urge the strong consideration of Dr. John Lawrence to succeed Jim Pepper as national parks expert and Dr. Hilary Ballon to succeed Leonard A. Zax as historic preservation expert.

Thank you very much for your attention to this matter.



Bill Pascrell, Jr.
Member of Congress