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Village Council Candidate Jeff Voigt Explains Why Resents are so Upset About the Garage Vote

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April 16,2016
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Village Council candidate Jeff Voigt explains why he voted in favor of garage , but not this garage .

Richard Brooks and Gwen Hauck in last week’s letters to the editor on the Hudson Street parking garage miss why most people in town are so upset. Like most, I voted for a garage. But also like most, I didn’t vote for this garage.

1. “Compromises were made.” No they weren’t. Only three council members decided the size of the garage. The only thing the Village decided was to have one. A compromise means parties at opposite ends of the spectrum meet somewhere in the middle. If there’d been a compromise on the size, we’d be digging the foundation for a garage now. This was nothing but a multiple choice test – picking the best of very bad choices.

2. “Exceptional aesthetics.” I, as well as others, call it the “Garage Mahal”. It does not fit with the surrounding character and size of the surrounding buildings.

3. “Inclusion of the public in the design process.” Really? Ask Mount Carmel or other neighbors directly impacted if they were consulted. As to the town at large, Brooks and Hauck confuse a choice between pre-packaged/pre-determined designs and engagement in the design.

4. “Allowing the functionality of representative government to be challenged.” Council members work for residents, not the other way around, and the whims of a select few should never prevail over the interests of the Village as a whole. Imagine if enough of us had spoken up and asked where the millions of quarters were disappearing to? The ability to vocally and publicly question our government is the essence of democracy, and the notion that those Village residents, who have voiced disagreement with the Council majority are trouble makers, is not only absurd, but counter democratic. Based on Brooks comments, candidate for Village Council, referendums such as this set a dangerous precedent that challenges the very basis of our governmental system. However, referendums when used appropriately, as in this case, provide a voice to the more than 1,200 people who were not heard.

Let’s dispense with the false choices. Everyone wants to spend tax dollars wisely, while retaining our Village character; to give our kids a top education; to live in a safe environment; to maintain the standard of living all we’ve collectively worked so hard to achieve. It’s how we do it that matters. Other than a few developers and speculators pushing for over-development, most agree. Most believe our Village is a model to emulate, not change in such dramatic fashion. What needs to change is the character of the current Council.

I voted in favor of a garage on Hudson Street. I am still in favor of moving forward with one and join with those seeking a reasonable design compromise that will increase parking without the flaws of the current design. My hope is that the message of “fool me twice, shame on me” will be delivered loud and clear at the May 10 election.

15 thoughts on “Village Council Candidate Jeff Voigt Explains Why Resents are so Upset About the Garage Vote

  1. Apparently the ballot resolution explained that you were voting for one of the three illustrations that the $500,000 paid for.

    I wrote the first letter in the Ridgewood News protesting $500,000 spent on a garage design at Hudson St. location, saying it would be waaaay too congested.

    I did not read the resolution on the ballot , but the illustrations were too large for me.

    Friends who DID READ the ballot box resolution, people who read the fine print as the deputy mayor said we were supposed to read did say one of the three designs would be chosen.

    . Why did people send a flyer , that Aronsohn hated, showing a huge garage. urging residents to vote no on the garage.

    Jeff, Jeff, Jeff,

  2. Well said

  3. What drivel. The sad thing about Mr. Voight is that he is a smart, articulate man who underestimates the intelligence of people around him. He would make a terrific Minister of Propaganda if Trump wins the Presidency. Mr. Voight is a master spinner, wrapping half truths and misleading statements with red herrings. Ridgewood’s great loss if he gets elected.

  4. Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for your letter.

    The original referendum called for 300 net new spaces. The current garage design will provide about 235 net new spaces. The garage has been reduced by about 17-18 feet in total width, and encroachment is reduced from 12 ft to 5 ft.

    I don’t understand how that counts as “not a compromise”. (You could certainly argue that it’s not yet a “reasonable” amount. I respectfully disagree.)

    Your points 3 and 4 are good ones. The process was bad, and is indicative of poor management and governance. But that is a separate issue from what’s the best design. You can criticize the “process” that got us to this current design while still thinking the design is a reasonable option. That’s my position!

    The cost would be about $49k per new spot with Option D, and $65k per new spot if you take one level off. Do you feel that a garage that costs $65k per net new spot is a good economic value for the village and a wise use of our limited resources?

  5. Rurik- Glad to see you are back. As usual, though, you have it ass backwards when you accuse someone of “drivel” who is obviously intelligent enough to disagree with you on most matters relative to this town. Where is the “drivel” in his opinion ?

  6. Rurik:

    Thanks very much for the compliments. I was worried you were not around or on vacation. Nice to hear you are active on the Ridgewood Blog again. I look forward to seeing you at the debate. Please come with some good questions.


  7. Rurik is such a smart, witty, intelligent man.


  8. Rurik – you should be ashamed of yourself. You and Roberta are the people who are dividing this town. It belongs to those who are civil and can respected others while they disagree with their opinion.

  9. John V.

    You have posted in multiple posts that “The original referendum called for 300 net new spaces.”, so the current size is a compromise. Also you have referred to 400 spot demand as something that came from walker study.
    Here are some facts:
    1. The mayor has been referring to 400 car garage at this spot since 2012. Google for hudson st. + BCIA + Aronshon + Vagianos. So this arbitrary number was established before ANY walker study on feasibility study for the lot and the design.
    2. The ballot question was written in July (you can confirm this with council meeting videos), much before desman confirmed that option A can accommodate that many spots. There was no design confirmed when the ballot question was written which proved that many spots are possible at this location.
    3. When I started looking for a home, I wanted a 6,000 square feet house. When I realized the zoning requirements and tax increases and setbacks, I settled for half of that. So saying that the voters voted for 300+ new spots without knowing all the encroachment details is not something I would expect from you. You are almost always logical, except in this one instance.

  10. Will the 3 Amigos still get their names on the plaque of this over sized garage? On the over sized units for the high density housing? Possibly on the over sized Valley? OMG, they are running out of time and their legacy will not be carried on because the intelligent people of Ridgewood…will vote for Voigt, Walsh, and Hache.

  11. Hi Saurabh,
    Thanks for your comments. I have indeed given two reasons that the current design is a compromise, including the fact that it’s smaller than design A and that it creates fewer net new spots than was indicated in last falls referendum.
    But I don’t believe I’ve said that the 400 space target “came from” the Walker report. As you note, that number was clearly the target well before the Walker report and before the engineers or architects got involved.
    What I have said is that the Walker report indicates that this size garage is financially feasible, and that it addresses a shortage of parking in the areas close to the train station. Does that shortage specifically indicate that the garage should have 200,
    300, or 400 spaces? Not exactly. But combining the existing shortage with the loss of auxiliary parking on private lots, something between 300-400 total spaces is probably the right target.
    Thank you for laying out the timeline. I agree based on that timeline the “300 net spaces” was a general target goal and not tied to a specific design analysis. The later work indicated you could meet that goal with a very wide design like Option A, or with a hypothetical 5-story/6-level garage that has a footprint like Option D. I think Option D is a better option than either of those two options, as we’ve all discussed previously.
    Bottom line: think taking off a level from Option D makes the garage too expensive per net new spot that’s created. Sure, we can probably afford that expense, but it’s just not a good value. That’s the biggest reason I’d prefer we stick with the current design. It’s as simple as that.

  12. John, you are ignoring the language of the ballot, again. Ignoring the language of the ballot allows this analysis to stand, but it is a false premise to do so. There was no compromise. Only now are we at a point where the ballot language is close to reality. The village explicitly said there would be great open debate about the garage from the starting point of the ballot. The fact that plan D doesn’t get to the pure 300 spots of that ballot is because the village knew the only way to get there was build a 6 deck, 5 story garage ‘on the lot’. Not even the most ardent garage supporters can stomach that. Please John, don’t ignore the ballot language when you offer these misdirections about compromise. There has been no compromise or open discussion about size and no set of wordy analysis can change that fact.

  13. Saurabh–So you agree then that there is no way that any intelligent voter had any doubt what they were voting for when they voted on the garage in November. The descriptive text said add 300 spots (to existing 75). The mayor had been walking about 400 spots. The mayor and village manager were holding public informational sessions and standing in the park talking about 400 spots.

    Somehow someone running for Village Council couldnt figure out what a 375-400 spot garage looked like. I mean a parking garage is a parking garage. What is the big mystery? It is what they said it was when 2/3rds of the voters supported the garage and when the Council voted 5-0.

  14. Hi Bill at 7:59am-
    Thanks for your comments. What language of the ballot am I ignoring? Would you be able to be more specific?
    I find it odd to say that there has been “no compromise”. Sure, a reasonable person could call the compromise “inadequate” or “not nearly enough” or “tiny” or “unreasonable”, etc, but it just seems odd to say there has been “none”.
    Also, I agree that there has been little open discussion and that the process has been poor. The VM or Mayor or Garage Team or whoever thought that the options (A, B, & C) was a good enough set to have debate around. But it wasn’t, since they all had the same wide footprint. It would have been better to have gone through a “community-based planning” process, with real discussion and input from residents (,
    Saying that, I actually think we’d be in the exact same place if we went through that community-based planning process. The community would have aligned around something with a footprint like Option D and an architecture like Option D, but would be debating height. So I’m not sure of the practical difference, other than everyone would feel a bit better about the process. We’d still be debating the trade-off between height and cost efficiency. Thankfully this can now be settled with the upcoming special election. That will be the real test of what the community wants.

  15. 8:18….did you know that the garage at 400 spots would be built 23 feet off the lot? Seriously? If so, that would make you 1 of probably 5 or 6 people who did. The members of the HPC committee didn’t know and they had a private meeting with design team. Did Mike or Susan? Did the Village Clerk’s office know? Did Mt. Carmel know? Did 3,000 plus people who voted yes know? NO!!!!

    Your smug answer regarding it takes intelligence to have understood that you were voting for a garage 23 feet off the lot makes you look like an ass. The main thing you are missing is that smart, intelligent people voted yes for a garage because they TRUSTED that Paul, Pucc and Roberta were going to take this opportunity to build a garage on the lot. Who would have thought that they would have been such lying, sneaky, people as their government officials. Now, they do know the deceitful manner these 3 treat residents, residents who trusted them to do the right thing.

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