PATERSON, NJ - Paterson’s historic Hinchliffe Stadium should be restored, city officials agreed Tuesday. That’s where the agreement ended.
With the June 30 deadline for the city to submit applications to the New Jersey EDA for $130 million worth of tax credits, Mayor Andre Sayegh and City Council President Martiza Davilla verbally sparred during the legislative body’s Workshop meeting, ostensibly disagreeing on whether or not the former had the authority to call an emergency meeting to discuss the merits of the $70 million project his Administration has championed.
With the council having previously voted down a proposed lease agreement between the City of Paterson and the Paterson Board of Education, Sayegh expressed his opinion that the matter should have been back on Tuesday’s agenda, and that he followed proper protocol for it to be.
When Administration officials realized that their request to include it had been rebuffed, Sayegh recalled, he attempted to exercise a little known provision within the municipal code that allows the chief executive to call an emergency meeting.
“If we squander these tax credits we are giving millions back to the State of New Jersey,” he said, thus creating the urgency. The matter, he continued, should have been reconsidered giving council members a chance to vote yes to “support sports and first class facilities for our children.”
Not so fast, Davila retorted, saying she never heard from Sayegh directly on it. “If he really thought this was an emergency he would’ve picked up the phone and asked me for a meeting.”
“He did not do that, he did not call the person who controls the agenda,” she said referring to one of the privileges afforded to her as president of the council.
Davila would go on to state emphatically that she too wants to see the stadium put back into use but that “this is not the right developer, not the right way to do it.” Ultimately, she said, she wants to see those that “will bring sustainable jobs” to the city such, as the proposal by the owners of Center City Mall to build an indoor arena and hotel in the city’s downtown.
Not one to sit silent, City Council Vice President Michael Jackson, whom Sayegh also said acted “inappropriately” by refusing to allow the lease agreement to appear on the agenda, offered his belief that the mayor’s appearance before the council wasn’t meant to “bring (them) together.”
“Trying to make people believe we are against this project is foul play,” Jackson said. “No one wants Hinchliffe more than me.”
With no solution to the stalemate in site Davila ended the discussion and Sayegh exited Council Chambers.
In a Facebook video Sayegh announced that he is holding a community meeting on the Hinchliffe Stadium project on Monday, June 24, beginning at 7:00 p.m. at JFK High School.
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