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Reader asks Why does anyone care what Roberta, have to say?

aronsohn and jan phillips

Why does anyone care what Roberta, Halaby or any of the other blowhards (that seem to think they are the only ones in this town that have a brain) have to say? Am i concerned about the ability of the current mayor to separate herself from her family situation and do what’s right for this town and it’s finances…yes, but to even think about the option of having some wannabe politicians who are going to push their special interest agenda, all in the hopes of financing some future political career is way more terrifying. We need to elect people that have some basic understanding of municipal economics and realize that this town’s tax base is not an ever increasing piggy bank. This and future councils have to be held accountable for every dime they spend or budget for….we all as taxpayers have to take larger roles in policing future councils in order to keep people from leaving this Village because it’s just not affordable to live. Who really cares what Roberta has to say, she’s proven time and again (contrary to what Mr Halaby thinks) that she was a complete and utter failure as manager of this town. As for Halaby, this guy is funny…..he’ll rant and rave about how not one dime should be spent on Schedler but is as vocal as anyone that this town’s future is wholly dependent on spending $11 million on a garage that is clearly not needed. I do look forward to his lectures on constitutional law and his waving of the American flag at council meetings…let those clowns attack the mayor or anyone else who doesn’t fallen in line…who cares? They are irrelevant at best.

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Former Village Manager should be the last person writing a letter in the Ridgewood News about nepotism


March 24,2018

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Wow Roberta shouldn’t be writing a letter in the Ridgewood News about nepotism. After all when Roberta was Village Manager she was one of the reasons tax payers are stuck with a below market value rent lease at the gatehouse. Roberta’s BFF Stacey Antine from which she knows from a Bergen school they graduated from got a fabulous lease on the gatehouse and a sweet contract for her business. Talk about helping a non tax payer succeed in Ridgewood and personally making sure her business is a success. Not only did Roberta help Stacey, Tim also provided services Healthbarn needed during his time with Parks and Rec.

Since Tim’s departure Nancy Bigos has continued in his place assuring Healthbarn weeps benefits other businesses don’t have access too. Such as classes that run thru Parks and Rec that are run at Healthbarn. Village claims it’s a partnership but Village doesn’t share in her profits. After all Healthbarn is still having its own classes during the Parks and Rec classes so who is helping who succeed?

It’s always baffled me how she got such a sweet deal but then I realized who backed her, the past council excluding Michael & Susan who voted against it. Roberta and Tim helped her along the way giving her perhaps inside information when she presented at VC meeting, because what she presented and what actually goes on isn’t the same. Replacing Tim with Nancy doesn’t change anything since she was one of the pack who brought this business to a neighborhood. It’s time to reflect on how much this business costs the tax payers and think about who has the tax payers back?

With Healthbarn violating her lease on several occasions and from what the neighbors can tell not getting fined only shows that they support the business not the residents.
Enough stop supporting Healthbarn and start supporting the taxpayers needs and concerns!!!!

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New Jersey Local Finance Board Finds Against Village of Ridgewood’s former Mayor and former Village manager in Ethics Complaint

Paul_Aronsohn_theridgewood blog

file photo by Boyd Loving

November 28,2017

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, On November 13, 2017, the New Jersey Local Finance Board (LFB) issued Notices of Violation to the Village of Ridgewood’s former Mayor and former Village manager for authorizing and appearing in a video that advocated only one side of a referendum question that was pending before Village voters.

The ethics complaint was filed on June 13,2016 by the New Jersey Libertarian Party’s Open Government Advocacy Project with the Local Finance Board–the agency that enforces the Local Government Ethics Law.

The complaint alleged , “Mayor Aronsohn’s statement in the video that its purpose is to educate and inform the public about this issue, the video goes well beyond providing neutral facts. Rather, the video is clearly an advocacy piece intended to persuade Village residents to vote “yes” on the proposal. For example Mayor Aronsohn made the following statements at the noted times in the video.”

The Notices of Violation, issued against former Mayor Paul Arohnson and former Village Manager Roberta Sonenfeld, both arose out of a June 21, 2016 referendum question which sought $11,500,000 in bonds or notes to finance the cost of constructing a new parking deck. Under New Jersey law, government officials may use public resources to educate ,but not to persuade voters on public issues.

The LFB concurred and found that the one sided video was persuasive and not purely educational because it advocated only one side of the question and “urg[ed] citizens to vote ‘yes.'” Using public resources to persuade voters to vote “yes” on a referendum is unfair because the referendum’s opponents do not have access to those resources and have to use private resources to distribute their message.

Arohnson and Sonenfeld, by supporting and appearing in the video, were found to have “attempt[ed] to use [their] official position[s] to secure unwarranted privileges or advantages for [themselves] or others in violation of N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.5(c).”


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Reader says Roberta was a time bomb waiting to explode left behind by the Aronsohn conglomerate


file photo by Boyd Loving

Roberta was a time bomb waiting to explode left behind by the Aronsohn conglomerate. Good she’s gone. She sealed her own coffin by submitting a nasty letter of resignation, and then behaving badly immediately following its submission. No supervisor in their right mind would have let her stay on. Mr. Pucciarelli wrote in her defense only because he’s one of those who hired her. He’s only trying to save his own face.

The outgoing (gone) Village Manager, the right thing to do is tell the counsel that you think they’d be better served by someone else, and that you’d be happy to stay on and enable a smooth transition to the new Manager. If she was asked to leave anyway, then at least she looks professional. Instead, she took a figurative dump on her boss’ desks, then started emailing around the office to tell people about it. So she was escorted from the building! Think about it. How else is that scenario going to play out? How high in the corporate world could she have risen, really? I’m genuinely curious.

Albert Pucciarelli letter was just plain ridiculous.

Let’s talk reality, not nonsense:

Show me a leader/manager who would allow any employee who submitted a letter of resignation in which he/she expressed his/her utter dissatisfaction (in writing) with working conditions, and also plainly acknowledged (in writing) a complete disagreement with management’s philosophies, to continue his/her employment with complete access to the employer’s computer network, telephone system, accounting data, and confidential personnel files, and I will show you a leader/manager who is a big a-hole.

Susan Knudsen did the right thing by forcing that condescending bitch with the fat ass out of her office and out of the building.

Good riddance to bad rubbish!

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Former Ridgewood Council worked AGAINST those seeking to preserve the Historic Zabriskie Schedler House

Save Our Schedler Members & Friends at the Schedler House
file photo by Boyd Loving
Historic Zabriskie-Schedler House/Village Council’s September 7 Work Session
September 8,2016

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Read this for a full understanding of how former Ridgewood Village Manager Roberta Sonenfeld, supported by former Village Council members Paul Aronsohn, Gwenn Hauck, and Albert Pucciarelli, worked AGAINST those seeking to preserve the Historic Zabriskie Schedler House.

Friends of Historic Zabriskie-Schedler House addressed the council last week . The Zabriskie-Schedler House, is a historical home built in the 1820’s and located at 460 West Saddle River Road.

The Zabriskie-Schedler House was purchased by the Village of Ridgewood, together with the surrounding area commonly referred to as the “Schedler Property”.

The group formerly known as RED made the following salient points to the council:

1.         Since 2012 our group, the “Friends of the Historic Zabriskie-Schedler House” (previously known as “RED” (the Ridgewood Eastside Development)) has been repeatedly asking the Village to stabilize the house (which would include roof replacement and mold remediation).  Despite our requests the only funds that have been spent by the Village thus far were for the installation of window louvers by the engineering department as a way to increase ventilation and decrease mold production.  In lieu of Village funds, privately donated funds have been spent to provide for tarps (on several occasions) in order to protect the house from further water infiltration and saturation and for the removal of vegetation posing a threat to the structure of the house.  These actions are merely “band aid” solutions which only have short term benefits.  With fall nearly upon us and the accompaniment of torrential rain, as well as another harsh winter on the horizon, more permanent solutions are desperately needed at this time.  Without immediate necessary remediation to the house, the house will not survive through the winter.

2.         First and foremost, in order to stabilize the house, the house is in dire need of a professional roof replacement.  The previous Council’s majority was instrumental in ensuring that no funds would be spent on the house stating that “no decision had been taken on the use of the house”.   The Council made this statement ignoring the fact that our group had provided a use – the Bergen County Historical Society was very interested in using the house as a library.  The interest was so strong that the President of the BCHS appeared at least twice before the Council.  This use, as well as other productive suggestions (such as a field house for athletic groups, a community center and a nature classroom/organic garden) were continually ignored because we believe that the majority of the Council’s intent was for the house to be demolished by neglect.

3.         The Schedler Property was purchased by the Village for $2.7 million funded through grants from the Bergen County Open Space, Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund.  The Village received a $1 million grant in 2009, followed by a $570,000 grant from Bergen County in 2010 and a $450,000 matching grant received in 2011 from the Garden State Preservation Trust Fund.  Historic preservation is an essential element of these grant monies.  Nonetheless, the 2009 grant application (attached hereto) failed to include the historic house together with its historic four lots (9,10,11 and 12) of land.  Also, a false NO answer was given on the grant application with respect to potential historic structures on the Schedler Property and the square footage of the house was grossly exaggerated to 21,000 when it is in fact only 2,200.  The Bergen County Cultural Historic Commission was not contacted in connection with the application, however the application falsely states that the Village contacted the Ridgewood Historic Commission (the “RHC”) – while in fact there is no record of any such contact.  In light of these errors it is our belief that the application was intentionally misleading in order to solely address the supposed “needs” of the Village’s athletic groups, rather than the needs of the entire community.

They went one step further and listed the steps that have been taken:

1.                  In 2014 our group, worked with the RHC on an application to give the house a Certificate of Historic Eligibility (a “COE”), which is attached hereto.  The COE was awarded on May 2, 2014 and it recognizes the historical importance of the structure.  This recognition allows the Village to file an application that once approved, places the house on the national historic preservation list.

2.                  In July of 2014, our group, tired of obtaining no assistance from the Council, worked on an application for grants to be issued by the Bergen County Historic Preservation Trust Fund, Bergen County Open Space, Recreation, Floodplain Protection, Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund.  These grants were a great opportunity to receive 50% of the total cost of stabilization since the Village kept stating that no funds were available for the house.  However, the Village Manager, Roberta Sonenfeld, refused to sign the application, nor would she provide the required 50% of funds to match the grant.  Moreover, Ms. Sonenfeld advised that our group was responsible for the 50% matching funds, but because the deadline to submit the application was very close, the application was never sent.

3.                  In July of 2015, thanks to privately donated funds our group was able to open a bank account to deposit the required 50% of matching grant funds in escrow.  This information was communicated to Ms. Sonenfeld and our group was able to compile a labor intensive grant application (herewith attached) that included cost estimates, the history of the house and several other necessary documents.  With 50% of matching funds in the account, there was no reason why the application could not go forward but, unbeknownst to us, there was another application being issued by Tim Cronin, the Director of Parks and Recreation, requesting Phase 1 grants to construct a 90′ multipurpose field.  Mr. Cronin’s application provided for the demolition of the house.  Additionally, while our group was always told that there were no capital funds available for the house, Mr. Cronin’s application clearly stated that the Village would provide $100,000 in capital funds, equal to 50% of matching funds. The grant application was signed by Ms. Sonenfeld.

4.                  On August 5, 2015, Mayor Aronsohn announced that in order to proceed with the application or municipal historic grants for the house, the Council needed to approve a resolution.  In addition, Mayor Aronsohn mentioned the need for a second resolution relative to the 90′ field, which also required Council approval.  The date for said resolutions was set for August 12, 2015.

5.                  On August 12 2015, the Council’s chambers were packed with concerned citizens who voiced their opinions regarding the house and the field.  The meeting minutes, herewith attached, offer an additional glimpse into what transpired that night. To a very disappointed crowd, Resolution 15-257: Acceptance of Open Space Committee Recommendations Concerning the Schedler Property was approved (by a majority of 3-2) and Resolution 15-258: Apply for Grant – Schedler House was denied (by a majority of 3-2).

6.                  With our chances of applying for municipal historic preservation grants being denied, we had felt that once again we wasted our time and effort to preserve the history of our Village and the Schedler Property.    Following the passage of these resolutions we were alerted by Ms. Sonenfeld that Resolution 15-257 included a section that would allow a 501(c)(3) group to file a grant application for the house on behalf of the Village on the conditions that the 501(c)(3) group would (i) enter into a 20-year lease with the Village and (ii) be responsible for the maintenance of the house.  Our group immediately filed for 501(c)(3) status and asked for lease documents, but Ms. Sonenfeld stated that the Village attorney would have to charge our group legal fees in connection with the preparation of the lease.  As a result, although a September 3, 2015 grant application deadline was met by our group, without 501(c)(3) status and a signed lease with the Village, our application was considered invalid.  All of these consequences could have been avoided if Ms. Sonenfeld had signed the application on behalf of the Village as the owner of the house.


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Reader says supporters of the former Village Manager are no better, their display of loyalty to the dishonest, lack of integrity regime that is gone is pretty pathetic

3 amigos in action Ridgewood NJ

What’s really concerning is that these supporters of Roberta, et al is their acceptance of government that proclaims transparency yet goes to great lengths to lie and trick residents. Regardless if you really want a garage or high density apartments, tolerating the lies, deception and trickery makes you compliant. Actually, many of these supporters went to great lengths to assist Roberta, Paul, etc. because they wanted to ‘win’ the garage issue, etc. These supporters are no better, and their display of loyalty to the dishonest, lack of integrity regime that is gone is pretty pathetic. Thank goodness the majority of people are not like these supporters. Good prevails.

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Reader suggests all 5 council members should meet with each department again to reevaluate and understand what’s been going on

New Ridgewood Council Gets Down to Village Business

file photo by Boyd Loving

She exhibited several episodes of unprofessionalism and inappropriate behavior to be our village manager. Her classless, drama-filled exit yesterday; interfering with citizen’s right to petition and most importantly spending over $200,000 of taxpayer money on a highly contested, questionable outcome of the garage. She signed construction documents committing to a floor plan for the garage BEFORE the November vote. She did not seem to understand that she reported to a 5 member council, that all 5 members represent residents. Her treatment towards 2 council members and residents was horrible and several displays of arrogant, disrespectful treatment not only displayed bad judgment but her incapability to manage effectively. I think all 5 council members should meet with each department again to reevaluate and understand what’s been going on (Roberta led meetings with new council members but her presence thwarted full disclosure from employees).

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Reader says the Village Manager’s method of leaving that most reveals her true character and ability


I heard she was a competent administrator, but the few times I spoke with her, I had the sense she did not understand numbers, so I never formed an impression of her abilities one way or the other. At the same time, I believe she too strongly pushed Paul Aronsohn’s self-promotion and political agenda, by, for instance urging people not to sign the parking petition. I also thought her letter to the editor a few weeks back regarding Schedler was completely off the mark and bizarre. Having politicized her position and made it personal, she created her own fate.

Perhaps it is her method of leaving that most reveals her true character and ability. Arrive on Tuesday to announce you are leaving a CEO role on Friday and then send emails to staff saying its all too hostile for you to stay on??? A person in that position – – someone who signed up to promote and preserve the health, safety and welfare of 25,000 people – – should have the fortitude and wherewithal to give adequate notice, ensure a smooth transition and go out with head held high. Instead, we get more drama.

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BREAKING UPDATE (8:17 pm): Ridgewood Village Manager Roberta Sonenfeld Resigns


September 6,2016

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Breaking Update : (8:17 pm)the Ridgewood blog has learned that the now former Village manager was escorted out the building after misusing her Village email by sending out misinformation about her departure. 

Ridgewood NJ, various sources have confirmed as of 9:17 am this morning Village Manager Roberta Sonenfeld as tendered her resignation . Her last official day is Friday . We are not sure if she will be at the Council meeting tomorrow night . Heather Mailander will take over temporary manager duties.

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Reader asks what happened to the concrete dumped at the Lakeview leaf recycling center in Ridgewood ?

DPW illegal dumping

file photo by Boyd Loving

Here is another one to the list. Just about a year ago tons of concrete from Village sidewalk projects were dumped at the Lakeview leaf recycling center. It was found by a DEP inspector and the Village was ordered to remove it. So how dumped it? What did it cost the TAXPAYERS to remove it? Was the Village fined for this illegal dumping and how much? The last report the Village Manager told the 3 Amigos that the police were investigation the incident. So Roberta blew off the the taxpayers again or are the police are still investigating this incident for over a year now.

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Reader says Get rid of Roberta and her cronies already. Let those who love Ridgewood RULE

Van Neste Ridgewood

I was just at Van Neste,12:30 on Friday, a veritable slice of heaven, with people on benches quietly eating what looked like bagged lunches., some people just sitting and looking, walkers along the path, some dressed as workers, others as exercisers. Super peaceful and beautiful and calm, with even a working bubbler, water fountain, that is all that is needed in the way of water. Ni big fountain, please. And please, no fences on Walnut. Why make it ugly. Does Vanianos and company envision alcohol fueled parties with loud metallica noise-muzac, going late into night, Does the village manager and company envision alcohol fueled events at Van Neste and drunken people falling off the edge. That makes me very angry. The field stone wall around the park on Walnut is all that is needed. Get rid of Roberta and her cronies already. Let those who love Ridgewood RULE.

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More subterfuge from Village Hall in Ridgewood?

Village of Ridgewood : Van Neste Memorial Park "Revival" project
file photo by Boyd Loving
August 25,2016

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Another bombshell uncovered as a result of a recent Open Public Records Act request –

In an e-mail dated July 27, 2016 from Village Engineer Christopher Rutishauser to Bill Gilsenan, the Subject of which is: “Van Neste Park,” Mr. Rutishauser writes:

“We are thinking of renovating the brick walkways, relocating some of them, installing a small protective fence along the South Walnut Street wall area (so no one falls off the wall), maybe crate [sic] a small stage area, upgrade/add water fountains, and maybe even turn the monument eagle to the correct orientation.”

Screenshot 2016 08 25 at 6.33.44 AM

No “small stage area” was ever mentioned during the Village Council Work Session of August 3, nor during the Village Council Public Meeting of August 10, nor is a “small stage area” included as part of a proposed project plan diagram prepared by the Village of Ridgewood Engineering Division, Christopher J. Rutishauser, P.E. (initials J.M. also noted on the plan).  However, the aforementioned plan does indicate that walkways now located in the center of the park will be removed, creating a moderately sized, circular shaped, open/vacant space.

The staff of The Ridgewood Blog surmises that this open/vacant space is the intended location for the “small stage area” referenced in Mr. Rutishauser’s July 27, 2016 e-mail, and that for some as yet unknown reason, this fact was kept under wraps – not mentioned to Village Council members, not included as part of a project plan diagram, and definitely not mentioned during two (2) separate open public meetings.

What is the intent of this “small stage area” and why was it never mentioned?  Did Mr. Rutishauser himself come up with the idea, or was it brought to him by someone else?  Fenced off park, small stage area – it would seem this sets the stage (no pun intended) for concerts/performances/shows to be regularly held at this location.  If this is the case, what organization(s) will be sponsoring them?  Might this explain the need to build an $11.5 million parking garage two (2) blocks away?

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Clearly, the time has come for the Village of Ridgewood Manager Roberta Sonenfeld to move on


file photo by Boyd Loving

What school of management did this woman go to?

August 24,2016
the staff of the Ridgewod blog

Ridgewood NJ, In an undated e-mail obtained via a recent Open Public Records Act request, Village Manager Roberta Sonenfeld refers to taxpayers’ comments about the proposed Van Neste Memorial Park revitalization project as being “ridiculous” and “malicious.”  The e-mail was sent by Sonenfeld to all members of the post July 1 Village Council.

The genesis of Sonenfeld’s bizarre, inappropriate, and offensive remarks can be traced to comments made during the Council’s August 3 Work Session by taxpayers Saurabh Dani and Jaqueline Hone, who both questioned a request by Sonenfeld for Council members to make an overnight (literally) decision with respect to applying for a Bergen County Open Space Grant in connection with the proposed Van Neste project in advance of any public hearing about the initiative.

In questioning the planned project at Van Neste and the need for an immediate decision from the Council regarding a  grant application, Mr. Dani and Ms. Hone both cited the way in which “after the fact” public hearings were held during the Fall of 2015 in connection with Schedler Field and Healthbarn USA initiatives.  In fact, in the case of Schedler, the grantor was falsely advised that a public hearing had been held, when in reality it had not.

roberta sonefeld email

The full text of Ms. Sonenfeld’s e-mail follows:

I would like each of you to get back to me individually as to whether you agree with submitting the attached intent. It is due by 4:00 tomorrow. A Council resolution is not needed to submit the Intent to Apply. A Council resolution will be needed once we submit the formal grant application and after we hold a public meeting on the subject. That submission is due in mid-October.

Additionally I would remind you that two residents referred to this grant process as unethical and/or fishy* I would expect that once you are behind this grant that you would publicly end such ridiculous and malicious speculation.

Thanks, Roberta

Best regards,

Roberta Sonenfeld

Village Manager

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Readers say fix the things that need fixing in Ridgewood

Village of Ridgewood : Van Neste Memorial Park "Revival" project

file photo by Boyd Loving

Fixing things that need fixing is a great idea. This park however looks beautiful. Paver bricks might have a limited life span, but based on the appearance of these bricks they still have plenty of life. Why change them out for ugly concrete “decorative” paver blocks? How ridiculous.

DSCF2826 1

Fix the things that need fixing. Don’t waste taxpayer money on demolishing perfectly nice things to make something else. So ridiculous. This is not like a living room that you feel like redecorating. This is a park with many commemorative markers. The fact that YOU don’t know any of these people commemorated on them does not make them meaningless.