By Kevin Coughlin
Morris Township commuters can sing Alleluia!
The municipal government and St. Thomas More Roman Catholic Church have come to terms for renewed use of a 100-space church-owned parking lot at Convent Station, spokespersons on both sides confirmed on Wednesday.
Township officials had been making plans to re-configure about 490 municipally-controlled spaces in anticipation of losing access to the church lot, an arrangement that was set to expire on Wednesday.
“Yes, we have a tentative verbal agreement and are working out the details. The lot will remain open,” Township Administrator Tim Quinn acknowledged via email.
“As far as we’re concerned, it’s resolved,” said Pastor Joseph Farias.
Father Farias described it as a two-year renewal. Beyond that, neither side could immediately disclose lease details.
Commuters at Convent Station have access to the church lot for more than two decades.
When the lease actually expired last September, the church granted monthly extensions, finally setting a July 1, 2015, deadline for the Township to resolve church concerns about lot maintenance and an increase of the $18,000 annual rental.
Convent Station is an NJ Transit stop on the Midtown Direct rail line between Dover and New York’s Penn Station.
Asked how the church and Township had come so close to a breach, Father Farias said he left such matters to his finance committee.
“I’m not in the contract business. I’m in the God business,” the pastor said. “I’m just presuming that kind of talk goes on all the time.”