Going before the Board of Education last week, Hillside Avenue homeowner Melanie Mitrano-Duffy asserted sex offenders and parolees are potentially attending AA and NA meetings at Franklin Reformed Church, claiming to have gotten confirmation from a senior parole officer from the State Parole Board.
Calls by the Sun to the officer were not returned.
On Tuesday, she told the Nutley Board of Commissioners that two Tier 2 sex offenders from Belleville and Clifton attend the Holy Trinity AA meeting, claiming to have checked the license plates of most attendees. Like many neighbors, Mitrano-Duffy said she would like to see the meeting relocated, not disbanded.
As a government body, Nutley doesn’t have the authority to dictate what programs a church can host, Mayor Joanne Cocchiola said, adding the pastor said members would be encouraged to park at the PNC Bank lot nearby.
Assistant Prosecutor Janice Massaro gave a presentation on Megan’s Law, explaining where sex offenders go socially can’t be legally restricted, though residences are subject to board approval. Those at the highest risk for repeated offense, Tier 3, wear monitoring bracelets, and notifications are given out door-to-door. The public can access information on Tiers 2 and 3 online.
“A very small percentage” are required by their parole board to attend AA or NA if law enforcement feel they have addictions, she said. In this instance, forms are signed by their sponsors and/or AA supervisor, and it’s difficult to track which meetings they attend to screen for locations by schools, especially in a densely populated county where schools are all over.
Two neighbors asked about stationing an officer at Holy Trinity before and after meetings, to which Chief John Holland responded the church would need to pay for that. He said he doesn’t see a need to commit officers to this problem.
Multiple residents expressed dissatisfaction with Holy Trinity’s attempt to compromise and communicate.
State Parole Board Executive Director David Thomas told the Sun he can’t legally confirm or deny whether or not sex offenders live in the area, or are in attendance, as his office doesn’t have the authority to give out that information. Also, no law remains on the books in New Jersey to restrict where sex offenders can live or go, Thomas said.
The school district is gathering information on the matter, Superintendent Russ Lazovick said. While the meetings are a non-school function, Nutley intends to do its due diligence as student safety is a priority, he added.
Other addiction-support groups meet regularly in the township. St. Mary’s Church, Vincent United Methodist’s Church, and Grace Episcopal are listed on the Northern New Jersey Alcoholics Anonymous website as hosting meetings, and the Gamblers Anonymous website lists St. Paul’s Church as a location.
AA and NA meetings “are a part of our ministry of hospitality,” said Rev. Jill Fenske of Franklin Reformed Church, where meetings are held six days a week, some going on for more than 15 years.
NA, moved to Franklin Reformed beginning in July, is held in the daytime a few days a week, split with a church in Belleville, while others meet in the evening. It remains to be seen if the daytime meetings will have any impact on parking once teachers return for the school year, but the church does have a lot which accommodates about a dozen cars, the reverend said.
Franklin Reformed has never received complaints about parking or member behavior from area residents, Fenske said, adding the church has a good relationship with neighboring Walker Middle School.
The school district has yet to reach out to the church, but they are ready and willing to have a conversation if Nutley has any concerns, she said
One meeting is held Sunday evenings, after Liquid Church’s daytime services at Walker Middle School.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story quoted Nutley Police Chief John Holland saying Holy Trinity Lutheran Church would need to be paid to have an officer stationed at the church before and after Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. It should have stated the church would need to pay for that.
– See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/neighbors-want-nutley-to-do-more-about-aa-meetings-1.858620#sthash.9vLx8oKZ.dpufRead the whole story here…
I spoke to Melanie who tried to make them change and make it safer, I talked to Bob a neighbor, I talked with Assistant Prosecutor Janice Massaro, and I talked with the Police Chief John Holland for over 30 minutes about what I was uncovering. It was all very interesting. Knowing what I now know, I might have asked some different questions. After all our discussions spj I decided to repost this story. I wonder how things are going there 3 years later.