Ridgewood News

By Paul Aronsohn

Welcome to the October 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 more times this month – October 8 and 22. On the agenda will be downtown parking, shade tree policy, leaf pick-up procedures and a host of other important topics.

 

All of our meetings are open to the public.  Residents are encouraged to attend and participate. Please visit our website for more information – ridgewoodnj.net – or to watch the meetings online.

 

Downtown Discussion

 

Our Central Business District (CBD) forum has given rise to a good, healthy conversation about the future of our downtown.  The discussions have been thought-provoking, honest and respectful.  Led by the Deputy Mayor, the focus has been on both near- and long-term ideas to improve our much beloved CBD.

 

Understandably, much of the conversation has centered on parking, specifically the need for a parking deck (or two).  However, the exchange of ideas has been wide-ranging and has addressed everything from traffic challenges to landscaping opportunities … from the decrease in store vacancies to the increase in restaurants.

 

Going forward, we encourage all residents to attend one or more of these meetings and to share your ideas with the Council.  (All of our email addresses are located on the Village website – www.ridgewoodnj.net .

 

Parking Update

 

We have been moving forward with some key parking initiatives.  Most notably, we have recently put in place measures to promote off-site valet and employee parking, thus freeing-up parking spaces for our commuters, shoppers and diners.  We are also in the process of reviewing our parking meter policy and technology … and exploring the eventual construction of a parking deck (or two).

 

Based on input from fellow Councilmembers, staff, residents and business owners, the Village Manager and I have been putting together a proposal for additional steps we could take to make our parking situation easier, simpler, better.  Stay tuned …. This is exciting stuff.

 

Planning Board

 

The Planning Board is currently focused on a proposal to amend the Village’s “Master Plan” to allow for high-density, multi-family housing in the downtown area.  The public hearing on this issue has been going on for almost a year and is part of a larger discussion that is more than a few years old.  Our expectation is that the Planning Board will make a decision – one way or the other – in the coming weeks.

 

At the last meeting, I made two proposals:  a specific one concerning density and a general one concerning our overall approach.

 

With respect to density, I suggested that our focus should be in the 30-40 units per acre range.   Although existing density ranges vary throughout the Village – with a high of 125 units per acre on Franklin Avenue – based on the testimony given, I think the Board’s focus should be more modest than the 50 units per acre currently in our draft amendment.

 

With respect to our overall approach, I suggested that we bifurcate the current draft amendment.  Instead of the one amendment to create four new zones, I believe we should consider two amendments to create a total of two new zones – a “Core CBD” zone encompassing only the heart of the downtown (East Ridgewood and Franklin Avenues) and a “Periphery CBD” zone situated just north and south of those two streets.

 

To me, there is good logic in this bifurcation.   The “core” and the “periphery” offer their own unique challenges and opportunities, and they should therefore be considered separately.  Also, breaking this into two amendments would allow the Planning Board to focus on one area at a time, rather than trying to bite off more than we might be able to chew.

 

The next Planning Board meeting will be Tuesday, October 7 at 7:30pm.

 

Mark Your Calendars

 

Harvest Moon Hoedown – Our “Come Alive Outside” programming continues this weekend – Sunday, October 5 at 3:30pm – with a great family event at Habernickel Family Park with pony rides, a hot air balloon, music, dancing and plenty of food.  To register, please go to www.ridgewoodnj.net/communitypass .

 

“Access Ridgewood” – Our annual disability awareness program will be held Friday, October 17 thru Sunday, October 19.   As always, there will be something for everyone:  school discussions, a senior program, family party, teen dance, performances, fashion show and interfaith service.  And among this year’s special guests will be U.S. Senator Cory Booker.  Stay tuned for more details or email us at access@ridgewoodnj.net .

 

Office Hours

 

Although I usually hold my monthly office hours on the first Saturday of the month, due to the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, I will be meeting with residents next week – Saturday, October 11 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.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), through his

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