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October 2015 Allegations on Schedler Park Project in Ridgewood Still Need to be Rectified

Save Our Schedler Members & Friends at the Schedler House3

file photo by Boyd Loving

July 22,2016
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, In October 2015 Resident Jacqueline Hone raised several issues pertaining to the Schedler Park Project including the allegation that the applications for Open Space Funds were fraudulent .

Ms Hone basically received the blow off from the Village Manager Roberta Sonenfeld  and she sent a second email exclaiming ,”A citizen’s complaint should not be viewed as a threat, but rather an opportunity to dismiss wrong doing and restore/gain public trust. As public servants, Village Manager and Council, have a fiduciary obligation to investigate citizen’s complaints and afford the complainant due process. The complainant has a right to receive a panel decision, with detailed explanation, as to whether allegations are sustained, not sustained, deemed unfounded or exonerated.”

As of now the allegations pertaining to the Schedler Park Project still stand and many Schedler area residents are still looking for answers .

From: Jacqueline Hone
Sent: Tuesday, October 6, 2015 1:48 PM
To: Gwenn Hauck; Paul Aronsohn; Susan Knudsen; Michael Sedon; Albert Pucciarelli
Subject: Notice of Complaint Village of Ridgewood

Mayor and Council Members:

In regards to the Schedler Park Project, I would like to file a complaint and draw your attention to the following for scrutiny and disciplinary action.

On 9/8/15 and 9/16/15 it was brought to your attention, that the applications used to obtain approximately $2 million in Open Space grants, were completed with intentional omission, false and misleading information, without municipal endorsement, and without public notification as required.

Village Manager and Counsel quickly diverted attention and dismissed the matter saying submissions of incomplete applications, to Bergen County, is acceptable and common practice.  This is not a matter of submitting incomplete applications. The applications are fraudulent and were submitted with the intent to receive funds. If the facts were known, the site plan for Schedler would be in violation of County and State provisions. Thus, the Village should not proceed with the Schedler plan as is.

1) Village Manager, Roberta Sonenfeld, submitted an application, on or about 9/1/15, seeking $100,000 of Bergen County Open Space Funds. This application was submitted with blatant, intentional, false and misleading information, without Council endorsement and public notification as mandated. The application shows the Village Manager committed $100k of municipal funds (tax payer’s money) without Council approval. What authority, if any, does the Village Manager have to authorize and commit tax payer’s money without Council approval? Under what authority was this done?

When confronted about the allocation of municipal funds, Village Manager stated the 100k would eventually come from the Ridgewood Baseball Association (RBSA) via gift donation. However, since the RBSA money was yet to be received, municipal funds were allocated in its place. Once the gift is received, it will be moved into the municipal funds account. What authority does the Village Manager have to front tax payer’s money and act as a temporary lender to the RBSA? This accounting practice is suspect and I believe also constitutes commingling of funds, which is prohibited. If this was done for the RBSA, why wasn’t this preferential treatment extended to the Friends of the Historic Zabriskie House.

2) Land Use Restriction: The State and County have strict provisions regarding Open Space, Green Space, Historic Preservation and full disclosure of threatened wildlife, vegetation and environmental impacts. As such, development at Schedler would have strict limitations, regulated land use and mandated historic, wildlife and vegetation preservation.

-Site Plan: The initial Open Space application, used to acquire the Schedler property, stated the land would be used for 60/40 active/recreation use and no lights. It was under this plan that the Village was granted Open Space funds. Violating the County Deed of Conservation Easement, the Village of Ridgewood revised and adopted a new plan showing 70/30 active/passive recreation area, lights, and a two-story concession building with recreation hall.

-Revenue/Profit: This park will generate a substantial amount of money…concession stand, hall rental, field time, uniforms, player enrollment fees, membership fees, field rentals etc. Additionally, site plan includes two-story building. Full second floor to be used as meeting room or rented for sports related functions (possible discrimination). RBSA involvement is an arguable breach of contract with the County and in violation of Open Space and Green Space guidelines.

-Historic Structure/Features /Elements: Historic house, features and elements were not fully disclosed to County. In some circumstances they were completely omitted. The preservation of the home and parcel was abandoned by the Village. Proper disclosure would mean strict preservation and limitations of park development and use. (See attached NJ DEP National Register of Historic Places, 2009, 2015 grant application).

– Environmental/Wildlife/Vegetation: Adverse environmental factors, threatened wildlife and threatened vegetation were not disclosed on applications. Full disclosure would mandate preservation and impose strict site limitations. This omission is how the Village is proceeding with Phase 1, demolition and clear-cutting of the last green acre parcel in our area (7 acres), which will expose hundreds of residents and wildlife to noise, pollution, Route 17,  high volume traffic, dangerous conditions and irreversible damage.

– State and County Clearance: This property, directly on Rt. 17. North, within feet of an interstate commuter Park & Ride, is the last green space in the area. All this is being done without expert studies and without notification to or clearance from Bergen County, New Jersey Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Historic Preservation.

3) Public Meeting Notifications: The Village has demonstrated a pattern of questionable omission and secrecy (see attached). Now, out of the blue, a meeting has been scheduled (10/7) to accept a second 100k donation form the RBSA and to present another revision of the Schedler Park plan. The agenda was just posted to the Village website. The general public has not been notified these matters will be discussed on this date. As such, again residents are being robbed of their right to participate, review the process, verify gifts and prepare for public comments/questions prior to the meeting. This matter must be tabled until all of the above is addressed. County Open Space Guidelines States:

As part of the application submission, the municipality shall hold a Public Hearing on a proposed park development project before it submits its application. The applicant shall publish a notice of the public hearing in the official newspaper of the municipality. The hearing must be advertised as a display ad at least 15 days before the hearing. The hearing notice must specifically reference the proposed Bergen County Open Space Trust Fund Municipal Program Park Improvement application. The public hearing must be held in the evening, and may be held as part of a public meeting, as long as the hearing is properly advertised.

Council has a fiduciary obligation to cease and desist the Schedler Park Project, until this matter is investigated and cleared of wrong doing.  Continued dismissal of the above, is gross negligence and an act against public good. TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE.  Failure to act and proceeding with Phase 1, intentionally permits irreversible damage to public health, safety, general welfare, public land and historic/vegetation preservation.

I believe State/County provisions and the Deed of Conservation Easement prohibits most of everything the Village is proposing at Schedler. We want due process, expert studies and a park which represents the true needs and desires of our neighborhood residents. Please allow us to present the facts before it’s too late.

We look forward to hearing from you and moving forward in the right direction. In the meantime, thank you so much for your attention.


Jacqueline Hone

From: Jacqueline Hone
Date: October 7, 2015 at 2:31:35 PM PDT
To: Albert Pucciarelli <>, Gwenn Hauck <>, Michael Sedon <>, Paul Aronsohn <>, Susan Knudsen <>
Cc: “” <>
Subject: Re: Notice  of Complaint Village of Ridgewood


I received a message from Mrs. Sonenfeld, pertaining to my complaint, which read…

Ms. Hone,

I find your email to be threatening, highly inaccurate and defamatory; as such I will not respond to it.

Notwithstanding Ms. Sonenfeld’s decision not to respond, IS a response. A citizen’s complaint should not be viewed as a threat, but rather an opportunity to dismiss wrong doing and restore/gain public trust. As public servants, Village Manager and Council, have a fiduciary obligation to investigate citizen’s complaints and afford the complainant due process. The complainant has a right to receive a panel decision, with detailed explanation, as to whether allegations are sustained, not sustained, deemed unfounded or exonerated.

Instead, upon receipt of my complaint, the Mayor inappropriately forwarded my complaint to the subjects involved in the allegations (village officials). This can be seen in the Village Manager’s email thread below.

Let me make my request specific and clear: With profound respect my email, subject: Notice of Complaint Village of Ridgewood, is a formal complaint filed with the Council. With that email, I placed the Council on notice of wrong doing and a cease and desist on all matters pertaining to the Schedler property. Furthermore, I asked for due process and protection from Council.

Given all of the above and the nature of this complaint, I formally request this matter be transferred to another jurisdiction, outside the Village of Ridgewood.

Jacqueline Hone

6 thoughts on “October 2015 Allegations on Schedler Park Project in Ridgewood Still Need to be Rectified

  1. The letter was strongly worded, no sugar coating. The Village Manager cannot dismiss a resident’s complaint because she does not like the wording. It is easier to deal with issues that are not encased in fluff.

    If she felt that it was a threat (How is that?) she should have asked a council member to investigate and respond.

    Her job is not to be dismissive of a resident’s concern.

  2. Looks like a photo from family reunion in Cabin Creek, WV.

    I was thinking about Schedler the other day. Any idea what the new Council will do..?

  3. The letter from Ms. Hone was not threatening. This is the M.O. of Roberta, to divert attention and indicate that she feels threatened or is in a hostile work environment. This is intended to shut people up. Thank God Ms. Hone perseveres and we can get to the bottom of this. The Village Manager has no right, NONE, to dismiss a resident’s concern, especially when spelled out so clearly as they were in Ms. Hone’s letters. All her feel-good meet-the-manager crap is just that, crap. She can chitty chat about a leaf summons or some bull shit like that, and make a big effing deal about it in her manager’s report. But this was a real complaint, and Roberta just said what the hell I am not going to address this.

  4. what a waste of money ,

  5. It seems to me that the letter was well written, but maybe too long for Roberta to deal with, so she dismissed it. Like when a child has a daunting assignment, it’s easier to ignore than deal with it, piece by piece, and get it done.

  6. The intent to buy this property by the residents at the time was for a Baseball field otherwise it would be for a gas station. If is not going to be a Baseball field sell it for Commercial use.

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