Ridgewood News

By Paul Aronsohn

Welcome to the September 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 – September 10 and 17. On the agenda will be downtown parking, public holiday displays, Planning Board-related issues 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.

 

Parking, Parking, Parking

 

If there is one issue that most of us agree on, it is the need for more parking spaces in the central business district (CBD).

 

With the busiest train station on N.J. Transit’s “Main Line” – over 1,500 passengers per day – and with one of the busiest downtowns in all of New Jersey, Ridgewood’s need for additional parking spaces has probably never been greater.  For that reason, the Council has been exploring and implementing changes to our parking situation … and there is much more to come.

 

With respect to short-term fixes, we recently adopted two ordinances that should increase the number of available parking spots during the day and evening hours.  First, we made “surface parking” a primary use in the C Zone, thus allowing more cars to park daily in places like the former Ken Smith lot.  Second, we made valet parking a reality, thus providing relief for many restaurant customers as well as those who will benefit from more on-street parking at night.

 

With respect to long-term fixes, we have been exploring three options:

 

(1)    Chamber of Commerce:  A proposal from the Chamber to lease the property in the municipal lot next to The Gap and to use the proceeds to build two parking decks in the CBD.  Unfortunately, despite a couple of attempts to generate interest in this proposal, it looks like this is not likely to happen.

 

(2)    Redevelopment Zone:  We are working to generate interest in the “redevelopment zone” that exists at the corner of Franklin Avenue and North Walnut Street.   Despite receiving its special designation in 2007, this area – which includes a municipal lot as well as private property (the so-called “town garage”) – has effectively remained dormant.  That is … until now.

 

We have recently updated the relevant ordinance and last week issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) that has additional parking as its primary focus.  Responses are due by December 1.  Stay tuned … this is an exciting opportunity for the Village to simultaneously have a parking deck built and have the streetscape cleaned up.

 

(3)    Bergen County:   For the past year, we have been talking with the Bergen County Improvement Authority (BCIA) about the possibility of entering into a public/public partnership – one that would have the County agency finance, build and operate a parking deck in the CBD.   Presumably, the deck would be built in the Hudson Street municipal lot – close to the train station and close to many of our restaurants.

 

The BCIA leadership is very supportive, and we have started discussions with the Bergen County Freeholders.   If this goes forward, this could be a huge win for Ridgewood.   It could not only result in an additional 200-300 parking spots in the downtown area; it could do so at little, if any, direct cost to Ridgewood taxpayers.  Stay tuned for more updates….

 

In addition to these three proposals, Village Manager Roberta Sonenfeld has already begun exploring the possibility of the Village financing, building and operating a parking garage … all by ourselves.  To this end, Roberta has begun looking at some of the key considerations – principally, the related costs and staffing needs – and is planning to visit Montclair soon to learn firsthand about that town’s experience (good and bad) with its parking decks.

 

Further, we have already begun a comprehensive review of other parking-related issues – from “smart” technology parking meters to designated parking for CBD employees to the possibility of 3-hour on-street parking.

 

Again, stay tuned.  This is exciting stuff….

 

Mark Your Calendars

 

Roger Wiegand:  We will be honoring our longtime friend with a plaque dedication and reception today at 5:30pm in the Village Hall Council Chamber.  Everyone is welcome.

 

Car show:  The Chamber of Commerce’s annual car show is this evening.  6pm.  East Ridgewood Avenue.  Fun for everyone.

 

Jazz Festival:  The Ridgewood Guild’s 2nd Annual Jazz Festival will be on Sunday, September 14 from 1pm to 7pm.  Don’t miss this extraordinary event.

 

Gold Star Mothers:   Please join us on Sunday, September 28 in Memorial Park at Van Neste for our annual event honoring those mothers whose children have died defending our country.

 

Office Hours

 

I will be holding my monthly office hours tomorrow, Saturday, September 6 from 8 a.m. to 10a.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.