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Ridgewood faces tax increase under ‘recommended’ budget


April 9, 2015    Last updated: Thursday, April 9, 2015, 4:02 PM
By Darius Amos
Staff Writer |
The Ridgewood News

Emphasizing an investment in personnel and the revitalization of village services, Ridgewood finance officials this week unveiled a “recommended” spending plan that would boost 2015 municipal taxes by 1.2 percent over last year.

For the typical Ridgewood household, this budget would increase tax bills by $46.72, based on the average assessed home value of $690,662.

The proposed $47.06 million budget was one of three spending scenarios presented by Village Manager Roberta Sonenfeld during a special public meeting on Monday.

Each plan calls for a tax increase, a situation that the municipality avoided while crafting budgets during the previous two years.

Sonenfeld explained that keeping taxes flat while maintaining a high level of municipal services “is hard,” particularly during years when Ridgewood is obligated to pick up certain expenses, such as increases related to police and fire department contracts. This year was no exception, she said, noting that the police department budget will increase by more than $500,000 over last year’s actual amount spent.

“We took the message that the council gave us very seriously – with tax increases you would like to see service improvements and improvements in quality of life in the town. I think we all agree with that,” said Sonenfeld, who, along with treasurer Steve Sanzari, formulated the recommended budget using previously provided input from Ridgewood’s department leaders.

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Today is Founders day for the Ridgewood blog

James J Foytlin founder of the Ridgewood Blog

The Ridgewood blog was founded in March of 2006 by James J Foytlin aka PJ Blogger . Mr. Foytlin was born and raised in Ridgewood ,New Jersey and is a graduate of Ridgewood High School .

Ridgewood NJ, – Oct. 26, 2009 – RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — The Ridgewood blog ( ) was founded in March of 2006 by James J Foytlin aka PJ Blogger .[1] Mr. Foytlin was born and raised in Ridgewood ,New Jersey and is a graduate of Ridgewood High School .[2] [3]

After many years living in New York City[4] Mr Foytlin returned to Ridgewood after a divorce and the tragic events of 9/11 . Once he settled in he noticed a lack of sufficient news coverage of local events . One day a friend from Brazil[5] showed him her home town on the internet and to Mr. Foytlin’s great surprise when he tried to reciprocate he was utterly dismayed at the absolute lake coverage of his home town. After all Ridgewood is only 18 miles from midtown Manhattan[6] the media capitol of world and there was not a single picture of Ridgewood to be found . How could this be? Ridgewood is a picturesque upper middle class village of around 25,000 located in Bergen county in northern New Jersey[7] . Founded by Dutch settlers before it became an English colony[8] . The town or village as its called is steeped in  rich history and tradition .Known for a large amount of Victorian era housing , a quality school system and a family friendly atmosphere.

Though busy getting reacquainted with his home town the fact that the Village of Ridgewood  was so under represented on the internet  continued to disturb Mr. Foytlin. Mr. Foytlin had been writing news letters for his job in financial services since the mid 1990’s . The popular flip, off beat investment strategy news letters had become email blasts with the advent of readily accessible internet.[9] By 2004 the email blasts were converted into blog format for the One Small Voice blog ( ). [10]

Around that time the Village of Ridgewood had finally completed it’s much anticipated and long delayed renovation of the Village hall which has been flooded out due to Hurricane Floyd.[11] The renovation was marred by huge cost over runs and lengthy delays. In 2005 it opened with great fan fare , was once again flooded with the very first rain . Mr. Foytlin was more shocked by the abject lack of responsibility taken by elected officials than the fact that the $9 million dollar renovation had to some extent been a failure . That was the breaking point and Mr. Foytlin had had enough so he decided to give , citizen journalism a go and created the Ridgewood blog in March of 2006. [12]

The birth of PJ Blogger .By this time Blogging its seems had become quite the rage and mainstream news anchors such as Dan Rather had questioned the validity of information from non professionals sitting around in their Pajama’s blogging.[13] Mr. Foytlin not a fan of Dan Rather or any of the mainstream media decided to blog under the name PJ Blogger as a play on words and to plant himself firmly in the camp of the new digital media.

Innovations by the Ridgewood blog to citizen journalism.

“The Fly” is a column on the Ridgewood blog the originates from the expression ,”I’d like to be a fly on the wall “ . The idea is that every citizen has both a unique perspective and experience and these two factors can be used to gather news and opinions about local issues. Originally only of handful of people in town participated but with time the Ridgewood blog can now count on 20–40 semi regular contributors. These post are both anonymous and signed and are largely opinion as well a breaking news.[14]

The Ridgewood blog brings a free market lassie fare point of view to local issues . Mr. Foytlin aka PJ Blogger has stated that for local issues there are only two kinds of people ;the ones who say spend what every you want because I will not be around to pay the bill and the second group which are more focused on the ,”be careful this is my money your spending” . The Ridgewood blog is dedicated to the interplay of there two groups.[15]

[1][12] the Ridgewood blog website
[2] Birth Certificate born in Valley Hospital , Ridgewood 04/09/1962
[3] Ridgewood High School Class 1980
[4] 444 East 86th street ,530 East 72nd
[5] Monica Rocha
[6] Mapquest
[7] United States 2000 Census, the village population was 24,936.
[9] Fahnestock & Co. now Oppenheimer & Co.
[14] [15] James J Foytlin

sign up for the Ridgewood blog eblast

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Village Council and Village Board Meetings


file photo by Boyd Loving

04/07/157:30PMPlanning Board Public Meeting – Village Hall Court RoomAvailable
04/08/158:00PMVillage Council Public MeetingAvailable
04/14/157:30PMBoard of Adjustment Public Meeting
04/21/157:30PMPlanning Board Public Meeting – Village Hall Court Room
04/22/157:30PMVillage Council Public Work Session
04/28/157:30PMBoard of Adjustment Public Work Session
05/05/157:30PMPlanning Board Public Meeting – Village Hall Court Room
05/06/157:30PMVillage Council Public Work Session
05/12/157:30PMBoard of Adjustment Public Meeting

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Ridgewood mulls over automated parking garage idea


APRIL 7, 2015    LAST UPDATED: TUESDAY, APRIL 7, 2015, 9:31 AM

With a dearth of places to build parking in downtown Ridgewood, officials may need to look at technological solutions to maximize the remaining space.

One of those solutions could come in the form of an automated parking system, which could potentially house more cars than a standard parking garage in the same amount of space.

Village Engineer Chris Rutishauser and his team gave a presentation on this kind of parking system – in which a patron drives into a stall, exits their vehicle and their car is automatically parked within the structure – at a Village Council meeting last month

Interest in automated parking systems has been spurred in recent weeks by a presentation made by Langan Development in early March, which proposed a type of automated parking as part of its development at North Walnut Street.

The Hudson Street lot, which is another desirable site for a parking structure, is also a candidate to receive automated parking if the village decides to go in that direction. Rutishauser described Hudson Street as a “tight site,” and an automated setup would allow the village to park significantly more cars.

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The Valley Hospital Recognized for both Patient Safety and Patient Experience


Among the Top 2 Percent of Hospitals in the Nation

April 7, 2015

RIDGEWOOD, NJ., The Valley Hospital announced today that it has achieved two distinctions of quality excellence from Healthgrades – the Healthgrades 2015 Patient Safety Excellence Award™ and the Healthgrades 2015 Outstanding Patient Experience Award™.

Only 93 out of the 3,558 hospitals evaluated for both patient safety and experience excellence had the superior performance to be recipients of both achievements. This places The Valley Hospital among the top 2 percent of all hospitals in the nation for excellent performance in safeguarding patients from serious, potentially preventable complications during their hospital stays, as well as providing a positive experience for patients during their hospital stays.

“I am very proud that Valley has received these recognitions,” said Audrey Meyers, President and CEO of The Valley Hospital and Valley Health System. “We understand that patients today have options when it comes to choosing a healthcare provider and it is our goal to be the hospital of choice for the communities we serve. These recognitions of quality excellence are a wonderful reflection of the standard of care we provide to all our patients and a testament to the priority Valley staff and physicians place on achieving the highest-quality clinical outcomes, while delivering the most compassionate care.”

Patient Safety
On average, 133,896 patient safety events could have been avoided if all hospitals, as a group from 2011 from 2013, performed similarly to hospitals performing better than expected on each of 13 Patient Safety Indicators evaluated by Healthgrades.

In addition, during this study period, patients treated in hospitals receiving Healthgrades Patient Safety Excellence Award were, on average:
• 43.9 percent less likely to experience an accidental puncture or laceration during a procedure, than patients treated at non-recipient hospitals.
• 53.6 percent less likely to experience a collapsed lung due to a procedure or surgery in or around the chest, than patients treated at non-recipient hospitals.
• 47.4 percent less likely to experience catheter-related blood stream infections, than patients treated at non-recipient hospitals.
• 43.8 percent less likely to experience pressure sores or bed sores acquired in the hospital, than patients treated at non-recipient hospitals.

During the study period (2011-2013), Healthgrades 2015 Patient Safety Excellence Award recipient hospitals performed with excellence in providing safety for patients in the Medicare population, as measured by objective outcomes (risk-adjusted patient safety indicator rates) for 13 patient safety indicators defined by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Patient Experience
In addition to being recognized as one of Healthgrades 2015 Patient Safety Excellence Award, The Valley Hospital also out-performed peer hospitals in patient experience.

Healthgrades evaluated performance by applying a scoring methodology to 10 patient experience measures, using data collected from a 27-question survey of the hospital’s own patients. The survey questions focus on patients’ perspectives of their care in the hospital. Question topics range from cleanliness and noise levels in patient rooms to factors such as pain management and responsiveness to patients’ needs. The measures also include whether a patient would recommend the hospital to friends or family.

“We commend all recipients for their achievements and for demonstrating an organization-wide commitment to delivering high-quality care, protecting patients from potentially preventable complications and ensuring a safe and positive experience for patients,” said Evan Marks, Chief Strategy Officer, Healthgrades.

For more information about Healthgrades or to download a full copy of the report or to receive information about hospital and physician quality, today.

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Ridgewood moves closer to municipal budget introduction


April 6, 2015    Last updated: Monday, April 6, 2015, 9:34 AM
By Mark Krulish
Staff Writer |
The Ridgewood News

Budget season continued in Ridgewood with village officials gathering for the second of three public budget meetings on March 22 to resume discussion of departmental needs for the upcoming fiscal year.

Among the changes made in the weeks between the first and second budget meeting was a reduction in the capital budget of approximately $700,000, which brings the current number to $3,194,000.

These talks will be taken up again at 5 p.m. on April 6 in a third public budget meeting. Discussion will include more concrete numbers for each department as well as the revenue side of the budget, said Village Manager Roberta Sonenfeld. The village is targeting April 22 as the date for introducing the budget.

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Ridgewood shuts Finca restaurant for fire violations


April 3, 2015, 5:05 PM    Last updated: Friday, April 3, 2015, 5:08 PM
Staff Writer |
The Record

RIDGEWOOD — Village officials have shut the doors over at Finca, a tapas restaurant that opened along East Ridgewood Avenue a little less than three months ago.

A notice adorning Finca’s front door Friday claims the eatery will remain closed “until further notice due to fire code violations.” The notice further says the restaurant will “reopen as soon as possible” while inviting patrons to visit its nearby sister restaurant, Cravings Tapas Bistro.

Ridgewood Fire Chief James Van Goor said on Friday that Finca was cited Thursday evening for nine violations to both the fire and building codes.

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Ridgewood still deserves better


To the Editor:

When Thomas Yotka, Ridgewood’s newly appointed building department director and construction code official, proposed numerous (and in some cases significant) increases in permit fees at the March 11 Village Council public meeting, Councilwoman Susan Knudsen requested more data to justify the proposed changes. Although Mr. Yotka had cited only three other municipalities’ fees in his report, Councilwoman Knudsen had compared the proposed fees with those of several others and found some inconsistencies.

Two weeks later, at the March 25 Village Council work session, Mr. Yotka provided additional details to Village Council members. It seems, from the discussion, that the permit fee increases proposed by Mr. Yotka may be in line with those in many surrounding municipalities, although the final discussion and official council vote on fee changes have not yet taken place.

This was a fine example of transparency in government, and we have Councilwoman Knudsen to thank for it. All of us who have obtained permits for home improvements know how expensive these are, and how they can add up rapidly if a large project is undertaken. Thanks to the diligence of Councilwoman Knudsen, if our fees do increase, we can at least feel reassured that the charges will reflect current standards.

Sadly, this positive occurrence was immediately marred by uncivil, condescending remarks from Councilwoman Gwenn Hauck and Deputy Mayor Albert Pucciarelli. They made it clear that Councilwoman Knudsen’s request for this additional data had not, in their opinions, been necessary and had required Mr. Yotka to expend excessive, exhaustive and unnecessary effort. Furthermore, when Councilwoman Knudsen stated, politely, that she did not appreciate a gratuitous swipe by the deputy mayor, he replied nastily and sarcastically. Councilwoman Knudsen, to her great credit, maintained a calm, professional demeanor.

In February 2013, Mayor Paul Aronsohn apologized for similar behavior on the part of the Village Council, saying that the public deserves a working council, not a fighting council. There have been other such outbursts in the last couple of years and now here we are yet again. Mayor Aronsohn speaks of civility often, and insists that public discourse must be polite. As chair of the March 25 meeting, he could have interrupted the nasty comments, and apologized to Councilwoman Knudsen and the public for these counterproductive interruptions to an important discussion. Moreover, why didn’t Councilwoman Hauck and Deputy Mayor Pucciarelli behave respectfully in the first place? The remarks by Councilwoman Hauck and Deputy Mayor Pucciarelli, coupled with the silence of Mayor Aronsohn, exemplify incivility.

My greatest annual expense is my property taxes, as it is in many Ridgewood households. I appreciate when our elected officials are cautious, thoughtful, and informed of the facts before spending tax revenues or increasing our fees. Collegial, productive discussions about village business cannot occur when Village Council members are disrespectful and quarrelsome. Over two years ago, the mayor said that we deserve better, but sadly it seems that we are still not getting what we deserve.

Anne LaGrange Loving


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Host families in Ridgewood are a breath of fresh air


MARCH 27, 2015    LAST UPDATED: FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 2015, 8:25 AM

Host families are breath of fresh air

To the Editor:

National Volunteer Week marks a special time of the year for The Fresh Air Fund, and I would like to take this opportunity to extend my sincere thanks to our wonderful Fresh Air volunteers, hosts and supporters in the Hudson Highlands. Their continued dedication to our New York City children is exemplary for all community members and truly embodies the spirit of the 2015 National Volunteer Week, which is from April 12 to 18.

Fresh Air volunteers work in several capacities throughout the year in 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada to help make The Fresh Air Fund’s programs possible. Fresh Air host families open their hearts and homes, and share the everyday joys of summertime with their Fresh Air friends. Our local volunteer leaders – many of whom are also hosts – serve on our local committees, plan summer activities, publicize the program, and interview prospective host families. Additionally, individuals and local businesses give generously of their time and resources to make The Fresh Air Fund’s Volunteer Host Family Program throughout this area a great success each summer.

The Fresh Air Fund, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer experiences to more than 1.8 million New York City children since 1877. For more information on how to help to continue this tradition of volunteering, call The Fresh Air Fund at 800-367-0003 or visit

Jenny Morgenthau
Executive Director
The Fresh Air Fund

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Celebrate National Poetry Month in Ridgewood



Celebrate National Poetry Month in Ridgewood

Beatnik ArtChick

Beatnik ArtChick-“The Closet”



*video’s were filmed in Ridgewood NJ 

MARCH 27, 2015    LAST UPDATED: FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 2015, 8:27 AM

Celebrate poetry

To the Editor:

Here is an invitation to our friends and neighbors to celebrate National Poetry Month in April 2015.

Established by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, it is the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture.

Visit and learn the many ways you can celebrate with your family and friends, and sign up for a “poem in your pocket” day, April 30. Many of our New Jersey teachers will be having “dear poet” projects.

Special treat on Tuesday, April 7 at 1:15 p.m. at the Ridgewood Public Library, The College Club of Ridgewood will bring Renée Ashley, one of our best known New Jersey voices and popular nationally recognized New Jersey poet. She is a beloved member of Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Graduate low residency program in Creative Writing and Literature and will present “The Magical Art of Reaching Into Us,” telling her poetry story and sharing poems with our members and friends to come. Join us.

And for those who have enjoyed New Jersey Geraldine A. Dodge Foundation’s Poetry Festivals, Ashley will be joining with other New Jersey poets at “Jersey Voices: Rediscovering the Poetry State,” on April 24 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center at 8 p.m.

Bea O’Rourke