Central Business District Advisory Committee
October 6, 2016
Attendees: Ramon Hache, Michael Velicu, Gary Kolesaire, Chris Rutishauser, Bill Gilsenan, MJ Shinozuka, Amy Borque, Lorraine Reynolds, Kathryn Schmidt, Philip Davis.
Absent: Gail McCarthy, Chief Luthcke.
Meeting was called to order by committee chair, Councilman Ramon Hache.
Public Comment: No public comment.
Committee members introduced themselves and shared relevant background information.
Bi-laws were reviewed and it was suggested that reference to “ the historic and aesthetic elements” be stricken given the potential overlap with the Historical Preservation Committee. After discussion it was agreed to continue with the meeting and then revisit the bi-laws after the committee had a firmer grasp on which elements it would focus on.
There is still an open seat on the committee to be filled by a member of the Ridgewood Guild. Members were asked to reach out to Guild members who might be interested and encourage them to submit an application.
Parking was discussed including the following elements, suggestions, and ideas:
- Brief review of elements of the parking discussion that occurred at the Village Council meeting of October 5 including the council’s focus on parking distribution, hours, supply/demand
- Better signage needed to direct visitors to parking areas
- Business websites could show links to parking. New restaurant requirements could include the need for designated parking. A moratorium could be placed on new restaurants
- Business owners need to be engaged as partners to free up curbside parking for shoppers by encouraging/incenting/requiring employees to park in designated lots rather than on the street
- There needs to be better enforcement of parking rules.
- Stickers could be provided to CBD employees allowing them to park in designated spaces at reduced rates, as well as identifying them for violation if parked on the street
- Major retailers are reluctant to enter the Ridgewood market because of the lack of parking
- Numerous parking studies, which can be access through the Ridgewood Library, have been conducted (c. ‘45, ’67, ’71, ’02, and ’15) and all point to a bottom line need for more spaces
- A parking garage needs to stay on the table as a way to increase spaces
The “Cool” Factor: There was significant discussion regarding the need to reinvigorate the CBD as a cool place to be for residents and out-of-town visitors:
- Montclair’s website was reviewed as an indication of how we could better market Ridgewood to potential visitors. Our current websites serve more as informational directories, rather than as marketing or public relations tools
- It would be helpful to have a media partner that is willing to advocate for Ridgewood as a “cool place to visit”
- We need more of a “high-end concierge” concept to position what we offer to visitors
- Special events are effective and enticing “draws’ that bring people into the CBD
- Enhancements to Van Neste Park, to be revealed on October 17, can provide a good foundation to drive this new image
- Closing select streets to traffic (e.g. “First Friday” concept) could be a way to enhance interest in and utilization of the CBD. Perhaps experiment during this upcoming holiday season
Central Valet Parking is being considered by the Council to alleviate some of the concerns of the current valet parking process
Encourages visiting more businesses rather than just the destination
Could be implemented on Van Neste Square with minimal impact to traffic patterns
Could be supplemented with Uber or other taxi service to allow people to get
Next Steps: Committee members are asked to provide Councilman Hache with their responses to the questions posed in his email:
- Who do you think are the stakeholders for the CBD?
- What would you like this group to accomplish in the next 6 months?
- What are the key issues that need to be addressed?
- What are the issues you would like to focus on given your particular experience and expertise?
Next Meeting: Thursday, November 3, 2016 at 7:30pm.
October 7, 2016
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