Ridgewood should not settle for average
December 6, 2014
To the Editor:
The developers proposing high-density developments have said traffic shouldn’t be an issue and schools would experience minimal increases in enrollment. It appears that they might have succeeded in convincing some of the Planning Board members.
Before accepting developers’ conclusions, we need to decide on a proper analytical framework. To do so, we can employ the elementary concepts of statistics. The developers are showing us the average cases. Traffic should be fine most of the time. Schools should not be incrementally crowded for many of the grades. However, we know this is not the way to look at the problem. Instead of the average, we need to focus on the bottlenecks and the possible extremes the proposed plans could generate.
What the developers are telling us is analogous to a stranger telling us that it’s safe to walk across a lake because the average depth of the lake is five feet. Clearly, this piece of information is insufficient. What we should find out is the maximum depth of the lake, the worst-case scenario.
Using the worst-case framework, we can reach the following conclusions:
High-density development will exacerbate traffic when it counts the most — the commuting hours. These are compact few hours of the day, but the number of people affected and the amount of pain experienced will be exponentially higher.
High-density development will also create overcrowding at certain (not all) grade levels. Moreover, the volatility of student enrollment is likely to rise with ongoing tendency for spikes. Therefore, for students, being impacted by class overcrowding will be based on the luck of the draw.
Given these negative scenarios, why would we want high-density development? How could certain members of the Planning Board possibly think this is a good idea? Why are we playing a treacherous game of three-card Monte with the future of this town?