Ridgewood News Newspaper
By Paul Aronsohn
Welcome to the May edition of the Mayor’s Corner – my monthly Ridgewood News column that seeks to make village government more understandable, more transparent, more user-friendly.
The Council has two more public meetings this month – May 11 and 25. On this month’s agenda are the parking deck, the budget, downtown signage, affordable housing and a host of other important issues. Please check our website for more information – www.ridgewoodnj.net.
All meetings are open to the public. All residents are encouraged to attend and participate.
Council Election – The Most Important Issue
Next week’s election is important. That goes without saying. There are many big issues facing the next Council – from parking to housing to overall planning.
However, the biggest issue facing the next Council will concern the management of our community. Specifically, who will be the Village Manager?
In fact, it is arguably the most important decision taken by any Council. In our form of government, the Village Manager is hired by the Council and is effectively the town’s Chief Executive Officer, responsible for everything from the development of the budget to the day-to-day management and operations of our community.
And for me, hiring Roberta Sonenfeld in 2014 was not only the most important decision taken by the Council; it was the best one, too.
Under her leadership, Village government has changed for the better. Lower taxes. Better services. More communication. And a renewed emphasis on customer service.
Granted, she has not done it all alone. Her leadership team – with its mix of long-serving professionals and new hires – has helped her to change the way we do government. Now, if you call the Building Department, the phone gets answered. Now, if you look out your window in late February, you don’t see Christmas trees still lying on the curb.
Granted, too, there is still more that needs to get done, but I can assure you that no one knows this better and no one cares about this more than Roberta. In fact, call her any morning (as I do) at 7am, and I can assure you that she is already working on it.
Two weeks ago, at the League of Women Voters’ candidate forum, I had planned to ask the following question – “If elected, will you keep Roberta Sonenfeld on as Village Manager,” Time ran out, and I never had the chance to pose the question. But before time runs out on this election, I urge you all to ask the candidates that question.
Again, “who” will be our Village Manager is the most important question in this year’s election.
Well, here we go again…
Following the March 23 Council vote to approve funding for a parking deck – the unanimous, 5-0 vote – a handful of residents started collecting signatures to overturn that decision. On April 27, it was certified that they collected the necessary 814 signatures. As a result, we are compelled to hold a special election, which will cost taxpayers approximately $45,000.
This is a real shame. Despite the many studies, public discussions and compromises – and despite last November’s public referendum that was supported by 2/3 of the voters — we have to spend even more time and even more money to do what most of us knows needs to be done: to build a parking deck in the downtown.
The special election date for the parking referendum will be Tuesday, June 21. Stay tuned for more information….
A big, special thanks to all of those who made possible the performance of “Tyler’s Suite” – a tribute to Tyler Clementi that celebrated his life and gave voice to the love felt by his family. Everything about the occasion was extraordinary: the Ridgewood High School Choirs, the Ramapo College Chorale, the musicians, the lyrics, the conductors and the standing-room only audience. Held at West Side Presbyterian Church, the program featured very important, very personal remarks from Jane Clementi and a fitting “thank you” to lead organizer, Dorothy Neff.
Also, a big, special thanks to our Interfaith Clergy Council for another extraordinary Holocaust Commemoration Service. This is such an important annual tradition, one that means so much to so many within our community.
Mayor’s Office Hours
I will hold my monthly office hours on Saturday, May 21 from 9:00am to 12:00pm in the Village Hall 4th Floor Council Chamber. 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org), through his
Twitter account (@paularonsohn) or through the Village Clerk’s office.