Ridgewood News

By Paul Aronsohn

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

Council Agenda:

The council will meet two more times this month – June 11 and 18. On the agenda will be downtown parking, Garber Square (see below), a tribute to our friend Roger Wiegand, among other important issues.

All of our meetings are open to the public, and residents are encouraged to attend and participate. Please visit our website for more information – ridgewoodnj.net.

Budget Reform:

We did it again. For the second straight year, the council adopted a budget that does not raise taxes.

This was no small feat. It took vision. It took long hours. It took difficult choices.

In fact, since assuming office in July 2012, this council has acted on its commitment to do government differently. To be more efficient. To be more effective. And to put a stop to excessive tax and spend policies.

To that end, we have taken a series of steps, including:

First, we established a budget “Tiger” team of resident volunteers to take a good, hard look at village government. The result was a compelling report that asked tough questions and raised important issues.

We then engaged the budgeting process earlier than usual and made the process more accessible to residents by broadcasting the budget meetings and making draft budget documents available to the public.

We formally established a Financial Advisory Committee – a citizen-run group comprised of some of Ridgewood’s best and brightest, who bring their strong private sector experience to bear on some of the village’s most challenging budget issues.

We hired a Village Manager (Roberta Sonenfeld) with a unique set of qualifications: a long-time resident with an exceptional track record of private sector leadership and proven commitment to our community.

Taken together, our effort to reform government has been driven by the challenging economic reality faced by many Ridgewood families and by our steadfast determination to provide them with much needed, much deserved tax relief.

Granted, fixing the village budget is a work in progress, and there is still much to do. But fortunately, with our new village manager at the helm and a team of dedicated professionals by her side, we can and will continue to move forward. Stay tuned.

Garber Square:

Public input is important. Case in point: the construction at Garber Square.

After years of planning, the village began construction recently on a “complete streets” project designed to improve pedestrian, vehicular and bicycle safety near the train station. It is a good project — one designed by our Engineering Department and one that enjoys the support of our public safety officials and members of the Citizen Safety Advisory Committee.

However, it quickly became clear that several residents had concerns, while even more said that they had known nothing about it.

Clearly, our communication should have been better. Although the issue had been raised at meetings of the Village Council and the Citizens Safety Advisory Committee, there obviously was not enough public discussion of it.

The good news is that the project is going forward and has been improved with public input. Through several emails, phone calls and meetings, residents made their views known, and we took notice. The result is a modified plan that eventually can be adjusted, should traffic patterns require it.

Government is always at its best when the public is actively involved.

Graydon:

Graydon is open and looking better than ever. The water is refreshing. The sun is relaxing. And now, there is a sloped entry with railings to make getting in and out of the water much easier.

In addition to swimming, there are many other things to do at Graydon. In fact, if you’re up for a challenge, the Village Council might be putting together a volleyball team. Interested? Email me at paronsohn@ridgewoodnj.net.

Knights of Columbus:

The Ridgewood Knights of Columbus will be celebrating its 100th anniversary on Saturday, June 14. Congratulations and thanks for many years of service to our community.

Class of ’14:

RHS seniors are finishing up their classes and getting ready for their graduation on Tuesday, June 24. A big congratulations to them, and their parents. This is a special time. Enjoy it.

Office Hours:

I will be holding my monthly office hours tomorrow, Saturday, June 7 from 9 a.m. to noon 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.