Last updated: Saturday July 17, 2010, 9:06 AM
PATERSON — Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-Paterson, has announced the local residents who will serve on the advisory commission to the Great Falls National Historical Park.
Ken Salazar, the U.S. secretary of the interior, appointed the eight members this week.
The commission will work with Bill Bolger, the park’s project director, to develop a general management plan — a key document for guiding the park’s design, its historical interpretation and its relationship to the community, Pascrell said.
“We are taking another step to see our city blossom once again,” said Pascrell, before making the announcement.
He said he hopes the commission works to make the park accessible to everyone. “Paterson is not a town you will be able to put little purple ropes around,” he said.
The members are:
* Dr. Leslie Agard Jones, a former William Paterson University dean of education.
* Karen Brown, Paterson municipal judge and a former Passaic County clerk.
* Susan Cole, president of Montclair State University.
* Pasquale DiIanni, lifelong resident and volunteer with the Paterson Boys Club band and Kiwanis Club.
* Robert Guarasci, executive director, New Jersey Community Development Corp.
* James Pepper, a former National Parks Service official.
* Thomas Rooney, former Paterson mayor and councilman.
* Leonard Zax, president of the Hamilton Partnership for Paterson.
“There are all types of things that need to be carefully thought out,” said Zax. The commission will make critical decisions about the park’s educational and historical themes, decisions that make or break its success, Zax said.
“Frankly, there are some parks in the country that are quite interesting. But others are really boring,” he said.
The statutory commission will hold four meetings a year, the first in October, Bolger said.
The boundaries of the 33-acre national park are much smaller than the entire 107-acre historic district, so the commission may have to negotiate certain agreements and keep community members informed about park plans.
To persuade Congress to approve the national park designation, much of the historic district’s private property was excluded from the plan, Pascrell said. He said some members of Congress had “a knee-jerk reaction” against the initial park plan because of eminent domain concerns.
Property owners inside the park area are subject to certain restrictions. For example, any structural changes to historic industrial buildings must be approved.
Commission member Robert Guarasci, whose non-profit social service agency operates in a historic industrial building at 32 Spruce St., said he believes most private property owners are excited about the national park designation.
“As private property owners, we are enthusiastic about the entire effort and are waiting to see how we will be integrated into the park experience,” he said.
Another order of business for the commission will be to advise Bolger as he proceeds to negotiate agreements for land transfers between the federal government, the Paterson Municipal Utilities Authority, the city of Paterson, the state and the Passaic Valley Water Commission. The four local entities each own land within the 33-acre tract that President Obama designated for the park in legislation he signed last year.
About the Author: