Mayor’s Corner: Access Ridgewood a success

FRIDAY NOVEMBER 1, 2013, 12:59 PM

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

Council agenda:

Due to the holidays, the council will meet only twice this month – Nov. 6 and 13. On the agenda will be an American flag ordinance, downtown parking, municipal budget, shade tree policy and a host of other important issues.

Our meetings are open to the public, and residents are encouraged to attend and participate.

Access Ridgewood:

Without question, we live in a special place. Great schools. Great downtown. Great quality of life. But what makes Ridgewood so special is the people – the people who live, work and raise their families here, the people who give so much of themselves by volunteering.

We see it every day in every corner of our community. Neighbors helping neighbors. Residents serving a greater good. It’s who we are. It’s what we do.

Some coach. Some teach. Some serve in Home & School associations. Some serve on village boards and committees. Some serve through their house of worship or one of our many community-based organizations, such as the Woman’s Club, Rotary International or the Knights of Columbus. Still others serve quietly but consistently as volunteers for a particular event or cause.

Regardless of form or venue, it all adds up and all helps make Ridgewood such a special place.

This was clearly evident two weeks ago during our fifth annual “Access Ridgewood” weekend – a three-day program designed to promote awareness about people’s disabilities/special needs and to celebrate people’s abilities/special gifts. As in years past, “Access Ridgewood” had a little something for everyone – education, entertainment, spirituality and a whole lot of fun.

But this year was bigger and better than ever.

As such, I would like to express my personal gratitude – as the mayor, as a resident and as a member of a family with disability – to the many people, organizations and businesses that made it all possible.

People: First, thank you to the entire Ridgewood Community Access Network (CAN) and specifically the core team that poured so much of its heart and soul into the program: Wendy Broadbent, Judy Broeker, Ines Bunza, Jack Dean, Cristina Deutsch, Janet Fricke, Debi Glennon, Elizabeth Lanza, Matthew Mandeli, Gail Tamirian-Mandeli, Guy Margolin, Caroline Meier, Tricia Mueller, Nancy Reilly, Robin Ritter, Lauren Schechter, Jody Schleicher, Karen Sheehy, Dianne Simmons Grab, Joanne Stolfo, Brooke Webb and (of course) the staff of the Ridgewood Public Library. I also must thank the principals of all of our public schools, who play an increasingly important role in this program each year, as well as those Village of Ridgewood professionals whose involvement made the program a success – Heather Mailander (Village Hall), Tim Cronin (Parks & Recreation), Joe DiBenedetto, Colin Donnelly, Christopher Mormino, Joe Youngberg and Pete Youngberg (police department) and Paul Brennan, Chris Dufloq and Vinnie Krug (fire department).

Businesses: Thank you to the many local businesses, which provided critical support: Araya Rebirth, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, BeRibbon, Best of Everything, Connect One Bank, Custom Cuts, Daily Treat, DJ BLKFRED, Fairway, House of DeCicco Salon, It’s Great to Be Me, It’s Greek to Me, Karma Organic Spa, La Lanterna, Maddam Tassauds, Magical Touch Studio, Natalie’s Restaurant, Pearl Restaurant, Ridgewood News, Ridgewood Pizza, Ridgewood Press & Copy Center, Salon Toujours, Stop & Shop, TD Bank, Tito’s Burritos, Total Caption, Us Productions, Van Dyk’s Homemade Ice Cream, Wendy Columbus Knitwear Design and Your Delicious Balance.

Organizations: Thank you to the local organizations, which provided invaluable support – the Interfaith Religious Leaders of Ridgewood, Learning Services HSA, the Ridgewood Soccer Association and Valley Hospital.

Students: Last but certainly not least, I think it is important for us to recognize the students, who played such a significant role in our “Access Ridgewood” program -RHS girls varsity soccer players, Project Interact members and Sharing the Arts Club performers. And, of course, local musicians Melissa Baney and Domenic Boresta. Taken together, these students made our special program even more special and more meaningful.

Mark Your Calendars

Election Day: Don’t forget to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Senior event: On Thursday, Nov. 7 at noon, the Ridgewood Community Center Advisory Board will be co-hosting a panel discussion on “Seniors in Suburbia” in the RHS Campus Center. For more information, contact Councilwoman Gwenn Hauck at

Veterans Day: On Monday, Nov. 11 at 11 a.m., American Legion Post 53 will hold its annual ceremony to honor America’s bravest. For more information, please contact

Hanukkah: On Wednesday, Nov. 27, Ridgewood‘s Jewish community will be organizing the village’s first-ever public menorah lighting to mark the start of Hanukkah. The ceremony will take place at Memorial Park in Van Neste Square.

Office Hours:

I will be holding my monthly office hours tomorrow, Saturday, Nov. 2 from 9 a.m. to noon in the Village Hall Council Chamber (fourth 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 have an idea, question or concern, I want to know about it.

I can be reached via email ( or through Twitter (@paularonsohn).