Pascrell's Legislation to Clear Path Toward National Park Status for Paterson's Great Falls District Receives Congressional Hearing
Bill will authorize feasibility study, the first step toward coveted
designation for Silk City's natural wonder and environs
WASHINGTON - Shortly after publicly unveiling legislation to clear the path toward designation of the Great Falls Historic District in Paterson as a national park, the measure, authored by U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-N.J., 8th), today received a hearing before a congressional committee.
The hearing on Pascrell's legislation, the "Great Falls Historic District Study Act of 2000," was conduced before the House Committee on Resource's Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands.
"I am ecstatic that this bill is receiving a hearing in Congress. It sends the signal that we are serious about getting this study done so that we can give the Great Falls and the neighborhood the attention and resources it rightly deserves," stated Pascrell.
Pascrell's bill, H.R. 146, would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to study the suitability and feasibility of designating the Great Falls Historic District as a unit of the National Park System. Pascrell introduced the measure in the House on January 3, and U.S. Senators Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.) Jon Corzine (D-N.J.) introduced parallel legislation, S. 366, in the Senate on February 15.
Pascrell, a former mayor of the City of Paterson from 1990 until 1997, testified at the hearing. In addition, Paterson Director of Community Development Anna Lisa Dopirak and Passaic County Vision 20/20 President Pat DiIanni gave evidence Passaic County Vision 20/20 is a non-partisan community organization whose goal is to provide grass roots support for the revitalization of Passaic County.
The Great Falls district has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1970 and was named a National Historic Landmark in 1976. Since 1988, the U.S. Department of the Interior has listed the district as a "Priority One" threatened National Historic Landmark. The bill sponsored by Pascrell is an effort to increase federal involvement in the Great Falls and the neighborhood surrounding this natural wonder.
"We made a compelling case before the committee on why we need this study and why the Great Falls deserve to become a national park," Pascrell said. "Given the natural beauty of the Falls and the incredible slice of history that is right in our backyard I think it will be undeniable that Great Falls should become a national park."
Pascrell has long been involved in efforts to preserve the Great Falls and the local environs. As mayor, Pascrell went to Washington in 1993 and testified before the House Subcommittee on Parks and Public Lands to help convince Congress that the Great Falls area was worth protecting. Pascrell also worked closely with former U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) to secure $4.1 million in federal funds under the Urban History Initiative to restore and rebuild the Stoney Road Bridge over the Upper Raceway as well as hiking trails in the Great Falls Historic District.
"The Falls and the surrounding neighborhood really represent the genesis of the American economic miracle, and increasing the presence of the National Park Service here will give the area the attention and resources it rightly deserves," Pascrell stated at the hearing. "These Falls really represent our city, its people and all its potential. This place can be a real destination that will create jobs, grow businesses and bring people in from all over. We cannot put a velvet rope around the district -- we must make it a living, breathing attraction that will celebrate our past, present and future."