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Ridgewood Village Manager speaks out, inappropriately



March 26,2016

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Village Manager Roberta Sonenfeld has often exceeded her authority by speaking her mind (that is, the mayor’s mind) on issues that are not within her purview. At council meetings, on Facebook, and elsewhere she holds forth in a way that is entirely inappropriate for, and unbecoming to, an employee of the Village. (You will never see such things from any other Village employee.) Most objectionably, she does not hesitate to reprimand residents, sometimes harshly, for expressing their views. The mayor insisted on hiring her above more qualified applicants to be his junkyard dog, and that’s precisely what she has become, with increasing stridency.

The Facebook page on which her note below appears does not accept posts that criticize the mayor’s circle; however, if the Ridgewood Blog reproduces her letter, which after all is addressed to “residents and friends” (not necessarily the same thing), all residents, including those who choose not to use Facebook, will be able to see what she is doing and have an opportunity to comment. The link is given for those who can access Facebook and wish to see the original.

A fair amount of the information being promulgated here is simply NOT CORRECT.


Roberta Sonenfeld

3 hrs

Dear Residents and Friends,

Given the 5-0 Village Council vote on Wednesday, many if not all of you may feel that the parking deck at Hudson Street is a done deal. This would be a normal reaction given the unanimous vote. Sadly this is not the case, however, as a group of people are challenging this vote by petitioning to rescind this ordinance. This is the same group of petitioners that have raised opposition to the deck previously because they wanted Ridgewood to bond by itself and not use Bergen County. Another week, another new excuse to stop a much-needed parking facility in our downtown. This time the excuse is that the deck, despite having been redesigned several times, is still too large.

The design of our deck has undergone much change and much compromise based upon the input of residents and professionals. The deck has decreased from 405 spots to 325 spots. The width of the deck has decreased 18’, from 122’ to 104’8”. The cantilever over Hudson Street has been totally eliminated. The larger tower has decreased by approximately 7’, to 60’10”; this is consistent with the other two towers currently existing on the NE and SW corners of E Ridgewood Ave and Broad Street. The height of our structure is only 43’ to the roofline. It exceeds the 45’ height code only when adding the 3’9” parapets (a safety/aesthetic feature). With this decrease has come some changes in the financials, causing the per parking spot cost to increase from less than $30,000 to about $33,000.

We have gotten to this point by careful and responsible management. There have been environmental studies, site surveys, financial analyses, traffic studies, engineering/architectural renderings and more. We have involved our police and fire professionals since the start to insure the safety of our building and the people who will eventually use it. We are at the point of completing our construction bid documents and almost ready to embark upon the exciting next phase of building this deck.

After decades of discussion, we are so close to doing the right thing for our residents, for our commuters, for our visitors, for our business district employees, and for our businesses in the downtown. Do not let a group of people who have continually tried to find any argument for not building this deck succeed in thwarting our progress.

Enough is enough.

28 thoughts on “Ridgewood Village Manager speaks out, inappropriately

  1. How coincidental…Enough is Enough. Same as the headline for the ad in the paper this weekend.

  2. Someone deleted comments from residents. Maybe the facebook group moderator is pro building

    She posted like an angry person but also as village manager. She needs to get off social media before she makes things worse. Maybe she plans on leaving her job after the election (like her puppetmaster) and does not care.

  3. Enough is enough. Who the hell does she think she is. She is an employee of the Village of Ridgewood not an elected official.

    Village Council members serve part-time, and most have full-time jobs. They appoint a Village Manager to oversee the day to day operations of the Village, to handle personnel, citizen inquiries and complaints, and to handle the administrative duties of the Village.

  4. Hopefully she goes away with the three stooges.

  5. We should be so lucky 7:46.

  6. Follow the money – watch who gets the construction bid for the garage. The bid will be awarded before they all leave.

  7. What information in her note is incorrect?

  8. “Enough is enough.”

  9. I see you are up early stirring up the pot John V.

  10. Mrs Hauck is also all over that thread with comments that are not only inappropriate but completely out of touch with reality. You have to read them to believe them. Unbelievable.

  11. Good question, John V. I mean, since a “fair amount” of the information in the VM’s note is “NOT CORRECT,” the blog staff should have no trouble listing, say, three or four specific things that are “NOT CORRRECT,” and providing the correct information.

  12. John V, and Robert Carroll – What she is doing is outside the boundaries of her job as village manager. That’s incorrect.

  13. The admin of the FB page is quite the artful one…selecting to remove the ones that don’t fit the agenda he wants. Tip of the hat to you, James, for publishing from proponents and opponents of your blog.

  14. 9:18am – he will FLIP after May.

  15. Our CBD is a mess – all anyone in this debate is doing here is starting a knife fight while the Village burns. Repeal ordinance 3066, create a 5,10,20 year development plan to amend the Master Plan and reflect the current reality of the CBD at 20-24 units and then give these amended rules to redevelop the eyesores – of which there are many – to the developers. Eventually all of the angry anti-development crowd will have to realize that they aren’t protecting anything worth saving

  16. John V, here is the misinformation / incorrect information in Roberta’s post:

    1. 3’9” parapets is NOT an aesthetic feature. It’s REQUIRED because roof level IS a PARKING level. That’s probably the minimum you need by code, although it may not be safe enough and expect it to go UP later.
    2. She has quoted nearby towers at 60 feet 10 inches – but that’s not the height of those towers. That’s the height of a thin steel post above the tower.
    3. The cost of 33K per sport does not make sense. (or the bond cost of 11.5Million does not make sense) 11.5M/325 is not 33k. (unless they have hidden plans to build plan A with 11.5M.
    4. “despite having been redesigned several times” – is a LIE. Realistically only two sizes have been considered Plan A and Plan D. All other sizes/options were photoshopped / ‘ideas’, there was no ‘design’ effort / money spent on those.
    5. 45’ height code is for ‘everything’ on a building. You can’t pick an exclude a parapet / elevator tower from that height. That’s how zoning works.
    6. Remember this date – March 25th, when she posted that they are still working on construction bid documents, and observe how quickly those bids are ‘finalized and approved’. For a 11.5M$ project, they are going to pick a builder / contractors within days. Watch that very carefully.

  17. I guess someone should remind Roberta “Shut-up”feld that our country was founded by groups of people who persisted fighting government actions they disagreed with by on-going, peaceful protests. She’d be better off using her small mind instead of her big mouth!

  18. 9:50, I believe that what you suggest is exactly what those you call “the angry anti-development crowd” have been asking for all along. I have been listening closely and it seems that most of the people who are protesting the development in its current form would be perfectly content to see these sites developed at 20-24 units per acre.

  19. The Facebook moderator should tell someone if he deletes a post.

    One of the deleted posts was in a similar tone to Roberta’s, just opposition. Nothing over the line.

    The moderator has moved into censorship.

  20. She is done, and few more will follow with her, it is a must. we have big problems in town. the water division is a real mess.we have top managers that are in the dark. we the people will vote in the spring,then it will be time to clean house.

  21. Glad to see Robertas husband Bob Carroll is up early trying to save her job. I can’t recall any other CEO posting things like that on facebook. But wait there is Mark Zuckerberg. No wait he’d never say that either.

  22. I would like to see the salary increases 2014 – 2015 -2016 for the Village Manager, HR Manager, Planner ,Engineer Fire Chief, Police Chief , Building Department Manager, Health Department Head. Parks and Rec Manager and Assistant Department Head if any also the Assistant to the Village Manage to include stipend incentive and schooling . Lets have a little transparency. Just a straight spread sheet. Oh thats right I have to opra it from this administration because they are one of the most civil and transparent Council in the whole history of the Village. Just ask them. They will tell you. This post is for all 5 Council Members.

  23. Robert Carroll- your wife is a snake who’s own dishonest actions WILL cost her her job. No saving it.
    The moms and dads page is moderated by someone who Roberta is controlling. His wife is a member of the chamber and a realtor- she doesn’t use his last name but don’t worry. No one uses her anyway-
    They delete comments and views of anyone who is not on their side of arguments. They’re liars and censors.

  24. To promise residents the garage can pay for itself, knowing a set number of cars are necessary but won’t fit on the footprint, then this garage should have never been initiated at this spot. It’s common sense….it doesn’t fit. It is too big. If it costs more to build one that fits, than that’s the answer, not build one that doesn’t fit.

  25. 1252… no guts to show your name? What a wuss.

  26. 10:29am-
    Thank you for responding, I appreciate it.
    1. She wrote “safety/aesthetic feature”, so I guess was arguing both, but just aesthetics. I don’t know what would be required by code. I agree that’s it’s a silly argument to say that the roof is to code and just the parapet is not. They are both part of the structure. I just wrote the same to Gwenn on Facebook, requesting her to stop saying the garage is within the height code. It’s not.
    2. She used the word “consistent with” talking about tower height. I interpret that to mean “around the same height”. She did not say exact same height. I agree that a thin piece of metal is not the same as a heavy brick elevator tower.
    3. My guess is that their cost estimate is 325*$325k = $10.725M. Then bond for slightly more to have a cushion. I believe they’ve always talked about bonding more than the expected cost to give that cushion.
    4. Lie is too strong for what you are saying. I agree there have been two main “designs” presented publicly, with the A/B/C being variation on a single design. But I would expect there were several “draft designs” discussed internally on the “garage team” that did not ever get formally written up and presented. The architect is my neighbor and I will ask him if I run into him. All in all, I’m personally comfortable with saying “several designs” were considered. We know of 2 and a half discussed publicly, and then other designs were discussed internally I imagine. Thus making “several”.
    5. Agreed. The thing about the parapet is not a strong argument.
    6. This is speculation at this point. I am happy to review that claim later on, but as of now I don’t see anything inaccurate in that statement.

  27. The 5-0 vote was for an amount to finance, not a design. Anyone who says otherwise is not being honest.
    There has been no compromise, the ballot called for a garage on the lot, it is still not on the lot, it called for about 300 new spots, it finally does that. These are starting points, not compromises. Finally, anyone who says enough is enough has no idea how democracy works.

  28. this new vote in may will make history , the new mayor will clean house. start with her then jon spano, and the rest of the jerk,s.

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