With Some Plants and a Banner, Community Groups Tidy Up One of Paterson's Gateways
Sunday, April 29, 2012 • 9:41am
PATERSON, NJ - Bright sunshine. Sixty-degree spring weather. Not a cloud in the sky.
What could be better than this? Most definitely, a spruced-up version of Paterson.
At 10 am on Saturday, members of Revive Paterson, City Green and the East Side Neighborhood Association gathered to clean up one of the city’s major entry ways – the overpass that carries Route 4 from Elmwood Park. Then the volunteers hung a new banner over the Broadway footbridge that reads: “Welcome to Paterson! Home of America’s Newest National Park! Brought to you by Revive Paterson, City Green, East Side Neighborhood Association and Ivanhoe Artists.” The accompanying picture is a glorious painting of the Great Falls courtesy of Ivanhoe Artists.
Before the committee got to work, the area was thick with weeds and some litter. It didn’t look too bad, but it certainly didn’t have a welcoming feel.
The bridge itself is one of the last art deco bridges in the state of New Jersey, according to Revive member, Tana McPherson, who credited Chris Coke, director of the city’s Department of Public Works for having the bridge painted to cover up the graffiti that had defaced it.
McPherson, along with Lesly Berrocal and Casey Vece, both of Revive Paterson; Tom Fox, of City Green; and Mike Symonds, president of East Side Neighborhood Association, weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, as they dug holes to plant flowers and “weed-whacked” the area to make it more presentable.
Some of the plantings included: rose bushes, ornamental grasses and annual flowers which will bloom all summer long such as petunias. Fox said, “We want to show people, Paterson is alive and growing. It’s a beautiful city!”
With a few helpful hands, the area looked like it came to life in practically no time!
According to Fox, City Green has been fixing Paterson for years. “It’s nice to see others [other organizations] doing it,” Fox said. “It’s for a good cause.”
Berrocal, who lived in Paterson her whole life, believes that little by little Revive – an organization that formed a few months ago – is trying to make Paterson better with their projects. “It means a whole lot just to do something,” she said, “Even if it’s small.”
Vece is a West Orange resident who became inspired to help out the community because of Berrocal, who is his girlfriend. Although he feels things for Revive are off to a slow start, little things help.
After the team hung the official welcome banner, Symonds commented that the sign hanging over the bridge is “one of the gateways to Paterson.”
Tavis Hunt, a Paterson resident who was watching his godson play baseball in the field nearby, gave his praises for the new banner. “That’s nice,” he said. “It shows what Paterson is about.”
Creating a charming welcoming area, inviting visitors into Paterson was very important to McPherson. She said, “When someone comes to your home, you have to mop the floors. This is an entrance to the city!”
And although the committees worked so hard this morning, McPherson still feels there’s a long way to go in order to get the city of Paterson looking up to par. She said, “It [beautifying Paterson] should be on the top of everyone’s ‘to do’ list!”
No future plans for Revive are solid yet, but they want to do something interesting on East 33rd if they get permission.
For more information, check out Revive Paterson’s section on the Ivanhoe Artists website at: http://www.ivanhoeartists.org/its-the-paterson-revitalization-corps.
[Editor’s note: Tana McPherson also does some freelance writing for PatersonPress.com.]