All information courtesy of The Preserve Graydon Coalition
Events since our June 8 newsletter describing tomorrow’s special election reinforce the importance of voting NO.
The two continuing and three incoming council members do not support the current iteration of the garage, believing that anything built at the corner of Hudson and South Broad Streets should be smaller and not stick out into the street.
The same concern to preserve the Village’s historic character that led the Preserve Graydon Coalition to oppose ill-advised ideas about replacing Graydon with a concrete pool now drives us to join a number of grassroots groups and individuals to oppose the $11.5 million parking garage bond in tomorrow’s binding referendum.
More than a radical alteration in our skyline
Even now, at the 11th hour, many, perhaps even most, residents do not comprehend what’s at stake. And it’s more than a big garage.
Although the official word is that the $11.5 million bond that is the sole item on tomorrow’s ballot would not inevitably fund any particular garage design, it is generally understood that the contract, already prepared and ready to go, would force the new council’s hand, giving them little leeway in determining what, if anything, should be built on the parking lot at Hudson and Broad, and taxpayers would be stuck with the bill.
The garage construction contract that has been readied in hopes of a “yes” vote is said to incorporate a 6% penalty on either side for making changes even though it’s impossible to predict everything that will happen. If the referendum passed and the contract were quickly signed before the outgoing council’s final day, June 30, the new council’s hands would be tied. Apparently that is precisely what the outgoing council members desire, although they deny it. Tomorrow’s special election could have been scheduled for next month, weeks after the new council had taken office—but the “council majority” set it on the first possible day.
Several members of our Village Council have put their concerns in writing. Excerpts, with full text available through the links that follow:
Councilman Mike Sedon:
“I will be voting no in Tuesday’s special election.
In order for the new council to move forward with a comprehensive parking plan for the Central Business District, which includes a reasonable parking structure, it is imperative that we can do so without having our hands tied by the outgoing council majority.
A no vote will not defeat a parking structure. It will allow us, the new council, to incorporate such a structure into the fabric of our CBD along with other solutions that have been mentioned in the past by some of my other colleagues and myself.
A true parking committee should be formed that includes residents, property and business owners along with Village officials to further explore any other ideas that could improve our situation.
The mayor’s previous parking committee did not include residents, and in my opinion resulted in information that appeared filtered and then potentially misrepresented when it reached the wider public.
This outgoing council majority has proven over and over that they cannot be trusted, and I for one will not give them any more trust by supporting what has become a monument to deceit and manipulation.”
Councilman-Elect Ramon Hache:
“Ultimately we have a parking distribution problem in our CBD, not a parking deck problem. We have already begun planning for more cost-effective solutions that will require minimal expenditures. . . . The notion that a single parking deck will solve our parking problem is in itself an outdated 90 year old idea.”
Councilman-Elect Jeff Voigt:
Short video: https://youtu.be/hVcW-r8Q-qk
Letter to the Editor, The Ridgewood News, June 10, 2016:
“. . .the Hudson St garage addresses a symptom but not the disease. . . . I am voting no (to not adopt ordinance No. 3521) on June 21st. As a Village, let’s put together something that makes sense, is clear as to what our monies are to be used for, and makes our central business district more user friendly.”
Residents are shocked by the lengths to which Paul Aronsohn and his yes-persons on the Council have gone, along with the Village Manager and others, to make their garage happen.
Dave Slomin, representing Ridgewood Citizens for Reasonable Development (RCRD, formerly Citizens for a Better Ridgewood), notes that the garage would set new guidelines for size and scale that developers would use to obtain permission to construct bigger and more dense buildings here. High-density developers could seek garage-related “parking variances,” giving them the opportunity to build as big as they wanted under new high-density ordinances passed by the outgoing mayor’s voting bloc.
The group recommends voting no in the referendum for reasons outlined here:
RCRD supporter Jim McCarthy shares his views in this short video: https://youtu.be/3MSgIMYcfyA
A new lawsuit and a new ethics complaint
A lawsuit has been filed in Superior Court claiming misuse of Village funds and employees’ time to create a video posted on the village website that urges residents to vote for the referendum:
In addition, a complaint has been filed with the Local Finance Board in Hackensack—the agency that enforces the Local Government Ethics Law—by the Open Government Advocacy Project of the New Jersey Libertarian Party. The letter names Mayor Paul Aronsohn and Village Manager Roberta Sonenfeld as having violated “N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.5(c), which prohibits a local government officer from ‘using’ or attempting to use his official position to secure unwarranted privileges or advantages for himself or others.”
The video was watched several times by Rev. Msgr. Ronald J. Rozniak (Father Ron), Pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, who wrote in his weekly bulletin yesterday (pages 2-3) that it “lists a number of entities that were consulted. You will not hear the name of Our Lady of Mount Carmel mentioned . . . . Incredibly, the single largest reality, neighbor, directly across the street from the deck, not four or six blocks away was ignored. This is despite the fact that Mount Carmel hired its own traffic consultant from an equally reputable traffic consulting firm.”
If reducing Hudson St. to two lanes would “eliminate the on-street parking on the church side of Hudson,” he wrote, it would “unquestionably have a negative impact on the operations of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.”
More quarters in the meter for longer hours
To repay the bond—a loan, after all, not a gift—we would face extended street parking meter hours and fees, including at the Route 17 Park & Ride, rising incrementally over time. This would add insult to injury for taxpaying residents while driving shoppers and diners to the many surrounding towns that provide parking for free. Only a few years ago, when meter hours were extended to 8 pm, downtown business owners objected to the council and the end time for feeding meters reverted to 6 pm. Why would 9 pm fare better than 8 pm did?
For these reasons, we consider it essential to reject the proposed bond and to vote NO onTuesday, June 21.
If tomorrow’s referendum passes, the three outgoing council members, while stating repeatedly that the new council will be in control, are prepared to rush-approve a contract for an enormous garage via a special council meeting a week before leaving office. That would leave the new council in a “bind.”
Only by voting down the referendum can residents prevent GarageZilla from rising above all it surveys at the corner of Hudson and Broad.
Where to vote: wherever you usually do. Polls will be open from 6 am to 8 pm.
To share this message (please do), click on “Forward this message to a friend” below the pail photo below.
Marcia Ringel and Alan Seiden
Co-Chairs, The Preserve Graydon Coalition, Inc., a nonprofit corporation