There are several issues affecting Village residents.

Some impact all of us. Some are more localized. But all of the issues are important, and all demand the serious, thoughtful attention of our Council.

Here are just a few issues and my thoughts concerning them.

Valley Hospital

Valley is an important member of our community. From its cutting-edge healthcare to its employ of hundreds of Ridgewood residents, Valley Hospital provides a great service to our community.

That said, I oppose its proposal to change the Village’s master plan.

It would be wrong to give any member of our community – including Valley Hospital – a blank check to develop with relatively little oversight. Although some of the proposed renovations might have great merit, each should be reviewed and scrutinized on a case-by-case basis.

Admittedly, I am especially sensitive to this issue. As a neighbor to the hospital and with a child planning to attend Benjamin Franklin Middle School next year, my family – along with many others – would be directly impacted by any major construction at the hospital.

Valley View

The Ridgewood Water company has proposed replacing the two aging tanks on Valley View with one large tank. The proposal provides for a tank of greater capacity, greater height and in a slightly different location. The problem, however, is that there has been inadequate communication between the Company and the affected residents.

At the very least, Ridgewood Water should be more responsive to the Valley View residents. Although the Company recently posted an explanation on its website, Ridgewood Water should be more forthcoming with answers to questions… a fact-based justification for changes… and an open, transparent dialogue with the affected community.

Anything less is unacceptable.

First Responders

The most basic responsibility of any government is to provide for the safety and security of its citizens. That’s true in Washington. That’s true in Trenton. And that’s certainly true here in Ridgewood.

To that end, we need to revisit the allocation of resources available to our first responders, especially our firefighters, with an eye toward making more money available.

Granted, we all support finding efficiencies in government and the need to do some belt-tightening down at Village Hall. But budget cuts should never – absolutely never – come at the cost of public safety. Ridgewood is a safe community, and it is incumbent upon Council members to keep it that way. Period.

Traffic Safety

Traffic control is an issue that must be addressed. It’s a public safety issue. It’s a quality of life issue. It’s an issue that affects every Ridgewood resident almost everyday. If elected, I would therefore make sure that the Council deals with traffic control issues – particularly as they relate to pedestrian safety – in a thorough, meaningful way.

Our streets must be made safer – particularly for our children who walk to school or ride their bikes through our neighborhoods.

Business District

Downtown Ridgewood has become home to too many banks and too many vacant stores. Something needs to change.

To start, I want to initiate a dialogue between residents, merchants and the Chamber of Commerce about the present and future of our downtown business district. Drawing upon my private sector background as well as my concerns as a resident, I would like to engage our community in a constructive dialogue about overcoming the challenges faced by businesses and meeting the needs of all of us who call Ridgewood home.

From parking meters to Village ordinances, there is much that needs to be discussed and addressed in our effort to maintain a healthy, vibrant downtown.

Parking Garage

The parking problem in the business district is notorious. Too many cars. Too few spaces. And the situation will likely get worse with the planned renovation to the train station, which is scheduled to start next year.

For years, consideration has been given to the construction of a parking garage, and there are a handful of proposals on hand in the Village Manager’s office. All would alleviate some of the parking problems. All would provide additional retail space. But all would also have the potential to negatively impact the flow of traffic and temporarily exacerbate any additional parking problems caused by the train station renovation.

As a temporary measure, I would therefore suggest merely developing the designated location – on the corner of Franklin Avenue and North Walnut Street – into an expanded parking lot alongside the adjacent lot already in operation.

This would save money… save time… and would alleviate at least some of the parking problem in the very near term. If necessary, the development of an above ground parking facility could be revisited in a few years – after the train station project is completed.

Simply stated, it would be wrong to overwhelm the downtown with two major construction projects happening simultaneously.

Graydon Pool

Ridgewood is all about community. From the civic mindedness of our people to the abundance of Village activities to our central business district, there is much that brings people together in Ridgewood. And at the heart of our thriving community is – or at least should be – Graydon Pool.

Granted, for whatever reason, many residents do not spend time at Graydon. We drive by it. We admire it. Too few of us, however, actually use it. In fact, membership has decreased dramatically over the past few years and the pool’s reputation has been sorely diminished. But there is a tremendous need and potential for Graydon to become – again – a thriving, central community space.

To that end, we need to save Graydon. Sand bottom pool? Clear water? Whatever we decide, we need to decide it soon, and move forward with an ambitious plan to revitalize this Village landmark. And whatever we decide, we need to preserve the natural setting that has helped make Graydon such a special place.

The Council should therefore continue to support the Ridgewood Pool Project and should provide it the resources and platform it needs to finish its evaluation and recommendation process.

Security Cameras

Again, the Village government’s most fundamental responsibility is to provide for the safety and security of Village residents. This responsibility, however, must be weighed against the need to protect our civil liberties. It’s a delicate balance, but an altogether essential one.

To that end, I was troubled by the Council’s recent decision to permit the installation of security cameras in the downtown area, because the Council’s action raised more questions than it answered:

    1. Has there been a recent spike in crime in Ridgewood?
    2. Who determined that cameras – rather than additional foot patrols – are the best remedy for effectively addressing crime in our town?
    3. Who determined the number and location for these cameras? And what was the basis for those determinations?
    4. What is the estimated cost of maintaining and replacing these cameras? And who will cover these costs?
    5. And how about the possibility of a “slippery slope” – the possibility that there will be a future increase in the number of cameras and an increase in the number of people who have access to the tapes?

In the end, I wish that the Council had deferred a decision until more information was known and a fuller discussion could have taken place, because as it stands, it seems that not enough thought went into this momentous decision and its implications for the future of the Village. As such, some of us are left wondering – “why cameras and why now?”

Granted, proponents of the cameras might justify their position on the fact that the initial equipment and initial installation are a gift from a very generous Village resident. (In other words, “it’s free, so why wait?”) But that fact should not – in any way – drive this critical issue of personal safety and personal freedom.

Simply stated, you can’t put a price on either.


Suggestions For These or Other Issues?
Please Let Me Know.

Paul@PaulAronsohn.com