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Where Does Healthbarn End and the Public Park Begin?

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, in 2015 the Gate House of the former horse farm at Habernickel Park was rented out to a new tenant. The Village Council approved a mulit-year lease with a local organization that teaches both children and adults about nutrition and healthy lifestyles, HealthBarn USA .

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The original rental price was $3,700 per month and in the contract, there is also an option to renew for an additional five years. The lease ended on Oct. 31, 2020.

HealthBarn USA was billed as a provider of educational programs for children that will allow them to connect nature with nutrition as they learn to grow and harvest food and prepare recipes. Students get a unique “farm-to-fork” experience and are taught where food comes from and why eating fresh food benefits both their bodies and the environment.
In 2021 HealthBarn’s lease at the Gate House at Irene Habernickel Family Park was extended for another five years, ending in January 2027. This time the terms of the lease were not fully disclosed .
The early sweetheart lease raised many eyebrows particularly after the Village was stuck with many expensive updates to the property and snow removal.
A private business in a public park has been a hot issue in the Village of Ridgewood and much debated .
But when the HealthBarn Foundation was awarded a $1 million grant , former Bergen County Commissioner and former Ridgewood Mayor Ramon Hache said the grant program is mutually beneficial: feeding people in need and assisting restaurants. This program become known as “Feed the Frontlines”.
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Neighbors and park users  continue to raise concerns over HealthBarn’s expanded use of the park and park facilities . However well meaning  HealthBarn is seen as encroaching on public spaces and in effect taking over a public park .
The question now arises is where does Healthbarn end and the public park begins?
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19 thoughts on “Where Does Healthbarn End and the Public Park Begin?

  1. Healthbarn proudly forced young children to wear muzzles 2 years ago. They couldn’t figure out that it was going to be bad for children and had no benefit, or didn’t care.

  2. Telling that the largest typeface on the drawing belongs to the village engineer

  3. They are using much more space then what is allocated in the lease. The council members know that, the council attorney knows that.
    Healthbarn in. 501c, yet they sent political endorsement emails for council election to their customers. Someone should report that to IRS
    The 4M raised by healthbarn, mostly went to the democratic party leaders of the village. Those funds should be audited.

    1. Residents use park at will
      Ignore the healthbarn

  4. can we PLEASE change the park name
    It should be “Hillcrest Park’
    Irene got many millions for it so wtf is her name on it ( It was NOT a gift)

    1. The Village got bent over by the Habernickel Family and paid well over assessed value. No donation. It should NEVER have been named Habernickel Park.

      1. BOHICA

  5. Yes, they do private parties to make additional income outside of posted hours. Additonally they have several nights with extended hours on Wednesdays and Fridays till 9:30 PM which means that Healthbarn workers are wrapping up several hours after closing. This is not fair to the neighborhood and despite the fact that Nancy Bigos says they monitor activities, they do not.

    1. And they are loud. 25-30 people. I know homes have parties BUT not every Wednesday and Friday does anyone’s neighbors have 25-30 people over. Not fair. And all outside And the fact that the business is making bank $$$ having these parties and off of the neighbors discomfort and ruining their quality of life is way different than sport noise for the kids or pickleball noise. It’s a business. And the park should close at dusk like the other parks. What gives?

  6. Siobahn Winograd is a big advocate of Healthbarn and talks about them as a money making operation for the Village. Maybe someone is making money but it is probably not going to the Village of Ridgewood and why do they have such a low cost lease when they are making tons of money with private parties, camp and other activities.

    1. yes she did a video in front of Healthbarn USA claiming it to be the home of Feed the frontlines…it isn’t.

      1. Siobahn and her ridiculous videos! Lord help us. They add zero value. In terms of Feed the Frontlines, it was started by Paul Vagianos and other business owners in March 2020 to help Ridgewood’s restaurants stay open during the pandemic with the intention of donating thousands of meals, however many people at the local, county and possibly state level are not clear on who got fed, who profited, there was a lot of grant money, you see where this is going, don’t you. Enough said.

        1. Ramon should know he Spear headed it

  7. looks like a very small area for tents but instead there are an excess of tents in unleased areas and blocking the handicap walkway. not fair at all

    very unwelcoming

  8. As long as Paul Vagianos is Mayor and residents continue to play possum, there is no end to the HealthBarn Expansion.

    Keep digging and exposing
    1) Paul Vagianos a founder of Ridgewood Feed the Frontline

    2) Feed the Frontline is siphoned through Ridgewood HealthBarn

    3) On behalf of Feed the Frontline, Ridgewood HealthBarn applies and collects 4+ Million through the
    New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s “Sustain and Serve” grant program.

    4) Receipts obtained via OPRA to the NJEDA show most of all the businesses listed above as beneficiaries with Paul Vagianos signing off.

    5) Through food pantries and organizations throughout Bergen County, they claim to have fed millions of local healthcare workers, first responders and people while supporting local restaurants. However, an accounting ledger or receipts to/from the pantries and organizations is yet to be seen.

    1. who is collecting a salary and administration fees from the 4 M?

    2. Once again, RECALL PAUL is looking really good right about now.

  9. I thought classes were supposed to be a concession/partnership with the village. How is this coming into play when its a private business with No revenue stream into Ridgewood aside from the very low rent?

  10. I guess this is a prime example of the fox watching the hen house in our little hamlet.

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