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Village Council Candidate Jeff Voigt Explains Why Resents are so Upset About the Garage Vote

pro garage 2
April 16,2016
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Village Council candidate Jeff Voigt explains why he voted in favor of garage , but not this garage .

Richard Brooks and Gwen Hauck in last week’s letters to the editor on the Hudson Street parking garage miss why most people in town are so upset. Like most, I voted for a garage. But also like most, I didn’t vote for this garage.

1. “Compromises were made.” No they weren’t. Only three council members decided the size of the garage. The only thing the Village decided was to have one. A compromise means parties at opposite ends of the spectrum meet somewhere in the middle. If there’d been a compromise on the size, we’d be digging the foundation for a garage now. This was nothing but a multiple choice test – picking the best of very bad choices.

2. “Exceptional aesthetics.” I, as well as others, call it the “Garage Mahal”. It does not fit with the surrounding character and size of the surrounding buildings.

3. “Inclusion of the public in the design process.” Really? Ask Mount Carmel or other neighbors directly impacted if they were consulted. As to the town at large, Brooks and Hauck confuse a choice between pre-packaged/pre-determined designs and engagement in the design.

4. “Allowing the functionality of representative government to be challenged.” Council members work for residents, not the other way around, and the whims of a select few should never prevail over the interests of the Village as a whole. Imagine if enough of us had spoken up and asked where the millions of quarters were disappearing to? The ability to vocally and publicly question our government is the essence of democracy, and the notion that those Village residents, who have voiced disagreement with the Council majority are trouble makers, is not only absurd, but counter democratic. Based on Brooks comments, candidate for Village Council, referendums such as this set a dangerous precedent that challenges the very basis of our governmental system. However, referendums when used appropriately, as in this case, provide a voice to the more than 1,200 people who were not heard.

Let’s dispense with the false choices. Everyone wants to spend tax dollars wisely, while retaining our Village character; to give our kids a top education; to live in a safe environment; to maintain the standard of living all we’ve collectively worked so hard to achieve. It’s how we do it that matters. Other than a few developers and speculators pushing for over-development, most agree. Most believe our Village is a model to emulate, not change in such dramatic fashion. What needs to change is the character of the current Council.

I voted in favor of a garage on Hudson Street. I am still in favor of moving forward with one and join with those seeking a reasonable design compromise that will increase parking without the flaws of the current design. My hope is that the message of “fool me twice, shame on me” will be delivered loud and clear at the May 10 election.