Bayonne Police Athletic League (PAL) Executive Director KT Torello and Board of Education Trustee Mary Jane Desmond said they do not believe the organization will be evicted during an interview with Hudson County View.
“From the very first day on [in 1992], things were never the same … We expected to have more input on what was going on in the building, as we were promised half of the building, half of the spacing, that we may grow and they would not interfere with us,” Torello said.
“Dr. McGeehan now, I would believe this is maybe her sixth or seventh attempt at trying to evict us from our rightful place. Every mayor since Joe Doria has told us ‘no,’ to cease and desist, and now, with her being a lame duck superintendent, her last mission is to destroy the credibility of this wonderful cornerstone known as the Bayonne Police Athletic League.”
The director cited a 27-year-old agreement as proof that McGeehan has overstepped her boundaries on this one.
“Obviously, some compromise in space must be made as the two buildings are fused, but the important element is that the essential programs of the PAL be preserved in a modern facility without financial cost to the PAL,” he read.
Torello said that the March 9th, 1989 agreement also states “no program shall be diminished by either party.”
Furthermore, he sated the agreement does not have a termination date and actually promised them another gym – which never happened.
Nevertheless, Torello vowed that he would not let the BOE “take our dignity” or “hurt our children.”
He also confirmed that the PAL has been in operation since 1947 and offers programs such as basketball, boxing, daycare (the largest one in the city) and a summer camp.
He noted that the costs of busing and feeding children enrolled in day camp is about $8,000, which does not include paying for day trips, something he does not believe the BOE has considered.
Desmond, a board of education trustee, said “there is no eviction” as of right now.
“There’s no eviction. I have to say that there is no formal action taken. It was not part of a meeting, it was not an agenda item. There was an ongoing conversation and concern about space issues. Frankly, I personally think that both Midtown and the PAL have outgrown the space they’ve been in.”
Calling herself “a longtime sponsor and benefactor” of the PAL, she added it was probably time to address space needs, which is why she asked McGeehan to set up a meeting with Mayor Jimmy Davis.
“This is not the first time the superintendent has expressed a desire to have her school back. But, I did encourage that we have dialogue with the mayor, I asked for the meeting, and the superintendent did set it up with I guess Andrew Casais from the mayor’s office. And we spoke,” Desmond explained.
As Hudson County View first reported, Davis went after McGeehan over the eviction notice, slamming the “controversial move made behind closed doors” on Wednesday.
“She did present to the mayor that she did want to expand the after school programs, I do see that there is potential in doing that. Again, these are personnel decisions and I’m not gonna speak for the board. But I will, however, defend the board to an extent. Nobody saw this coming,” Desmond further stated.
She added that it is her belief that McGeehan, a former Midtown Community School principal, wants to obtain the full usage of 550 Avenue A (currently shared with the PAL) due to “a personal and proprietary interest in this building and its success” in addition to seeking more after school programs for students – calling her actions thus far in the matter “misguided.”
McGeehan did not immediately respond to a voicemail seeking comment.