Mayor’s Corner

Ridgewood News

July 2015

By Mayor Paul Aronsohn

 

Welcome to the July edition of the Mayor’s Corner – my monthly Ridgewood News column that seeks to make village government more accessible, more transparent, more user-friendly.

Council Agenda

The council will meet two times this month – July 8 and 15.  On the agenda will be parking, multi-family housing and a host of other important topics.

All meetings are on Wednesday evenings.  All meetings are open to the public. All residents are encouraged to attend and participate.

Please visit our website for more information – ridgewoodnj.net – or to watch the meetings online.

Parking Deck Update

For several months, the Council has been exploring the possibility of building a parking deck on the Hudson Street lot, which is near the train station and many of our restaurants.   We have done an environmental analysis.  We have conducted a survey of the land.  We have commissioned a comparative study of conventional and automated garages.

Now, we are preparing to take two very important decisions:  (1) whether to place a referendum regarding the issue on the November election ballot; and (2) whether to issue a $500,000 bond to cover the costs of designing a parking deck.  Both issues will be voted on July 15.

The referendum would allow us to gauge public opinion regarding the financing and building of a downtown garage.  The bond ordinance would allow us to hire an architect in time to produce design renderings for the public to view and discuss before a vote on the referendum.

These very important steps go hand-in-hand, and if approved, would bring us closer to a parking garage than ever before….

Redevelopment Update

In a related matter, we are working towards a possible second parking deck – one built and paid for by someone else.

Specifically, work continues to realize the potential of Ridgewood’s “redevelopment area” – the blighted piece of property at the corner of Franklin Avenue and North Walnut Street.  After years of talking and more talking, we may have finally identified a partner for this initiative.

Following an extensive “request for proposal” process, we are about to begin negotiations with Kensington, a company that specializes in independent assisted living residences.   Based on preliminary discussions as well as two public presentations to the Council, Kensington seems prepared to build the Village a parking deck (free of charge) … do all of the Village’s necessary environmental clean-up of the area (free of charge) … and pay the Village hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.  In return, Kensington would want the ability to develop a high-end assisted living home on the property, some of which is owned by the Village.

To me, this could be a real win-win possibility.  A free parking deck.  Free environmental clean-up. Annual payments to the Village.  And a wonderful housing option for our seniors, who may need the support and comforts of assisted living but who don’t want to move out of Ridgewood.

For more information on this, please visit the “”North Walnut Street Redevelopment Information Center” icon on the Village website.

Downtown Housing Update

Following about five years of consideration, the Planning Board voted on June 2 to permit the construction of multi-family housing apartments in specific areas in and around the central business district.  Strong majorities — 6-3 and 7-2 — voted in favor of the four zoning changes.

Now, attention turns to the Council.  On July 15, we plan to introduce four draft ordinances that would make the zoning changes official, with a public hearing scheduled for September 16.  This would give the Planning Board two months to review the draft ordinances.  This would also give the public two additional months to voice their views on the matter.

Granted, some have complained that this 5 year process has already taken too long.  Perhaps.  But importantly, the process has been deliberate and thoughtful and has given everyone, particularly Ridgewood residents, many opportunities to raise their questions and express their views.

To facilitate everyone’s understanding of the issue, the Planning Board has made available most (if not all) of the background information on the matter, including transcripts, vote tallies and a video from the June 2nd meeting.   Please visit the Planning Board section of the Village website for this information.

 Ridgewood Responds

Following the horrific racist attack in Charleston, SC, Ridgewood’s own Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church organized and hosted an interfaith, community-wide service last week.  Led by Rev. Mack Brandon, the program included clergy from various houses of worship, who spoke passionately to the issues of race and violence.   It was a truly special moment in the life of our Village – one that underscored our profound sense of community as well as our unrelenting commitment to stand together.

 Ridgewood Remembers

“Eco” Ed Schwartz was an extraordinary person with an extraordinary spirit.   His energy.  His passion.  His integrity.  His sense of humor and sense of self.   Taken together, Ed was one of the very best.

Thanks for all you gave us, my friend.

Ridgewood Celebrates

Tomorrow, Ridgewood celebrates America.  The flag raising will be at 9am.  The parade starts at 10am.  The entertainment and fireworks show begin at 6pm.  Please join us for one of the most wonderful, most important events of the year.

Ridgewood Summer

Families are flocking to Graydon.  Nighttime crowds are gathering at the Kasshau Bandshell.  The Ridgewood Guild’s performers are popping up on different street corners.  It’s summer in Ridgewood … one of the best places on earth.  Enjoy!

Office Hours

I will hold my monthly office hours on Saturday, July 11 from 9 a.m. to 11:30a.m. in the Village Hall Council Chamber (4th floor). All Ridgewood residents are welcome.

Please contact the Village Clerk’s office (201-670-5500, ext. 201) to make an appointment, or just take a chance and stop on by. If you’ve got an idea, question or concern, I want to know about it…. 

Mayor Paul Aronsohn can be reached via email (paronsohn@ridgewoodnj.net)net), through his

Twitter account (@paularonsohn) or through the Village Clerk’s office.

 

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