A REGULAR WORK SESSION OF THE VILLAGE COUNCIL OF THE VILLAGE OF RIDGEWOOD HELD IN THE SYDNEY V. STOLDT, JR. COURT ROOM OF THE RIDGEWOOD VILLAGE HALL, 131 NORTH MAPLE AVENUE, RIDGEWOOD, NEW JERSEY ON OCTOBER 23, 2019 AT 7:30 P.M.
1. CALL TO ORDER – OPEN PUBLIC MEETINGS ACT – ROLL CALL – FLAG SALUTE
Mayor Hache called the meeting to order at 7:30 P.M. and read the Statement of Compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act. At roll call the following were present: Councilmembers Knudsen, Sedon, Voigt, and Mayor Hache. Also present were Heather Mailander, Village Manager/Village Clerk; Matthew Rogers, Village Attorney; and Donna Jackson, Deputy Village Clerk. Councilwoman Walsh arrived at 7:32 P.M.
Mayor Hache led those in attendance in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag as well as in a Moment of Silence to honor the brave men and women serving in our armed forces and all our first responders.
2. COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC
Andrew Lowry, 441 Hawthorne Place, stated that he was speaking on behalf of the Shade Tree Commission. He was warning that they were planning to make a series of comments and presentations over the next couple months to try to increase the priority that trees and the tree canopy have in Ridgewood. This will be informational and they look forward to brief meetings and discussions about the subject. He stated that tonight the Village Council would be talking about residents planting trees in the Village, and they support that 100%, but they should recognize that is not a solution to the issue. Third, Mr. Lowry stated that there is a presentation coming about Age Friendly Ridgewood, and he is very happy that they made improvements to the sidewalk but he said that in 10 years there aren’t going to be many people 55 and older or younger who are going to want to walk down Ridgewood Avenue in July and August at mid-day. They have to think about the future. Global warming is real, and the downtown is going to be exceptionally hot as it is already hotter than the rest of the Village.
He added that he spoke with one of the Councilmembers about this and Councilman Sedon is aware, but they are reaching out to the developers to try to make sure they use the best practices in developing their sidewalk plans. Mr. Lowry added that he has emailed, called, sent articles, to try to get their attention and he has gotten zero attention. The problem is the sidewalks are going to get poured pretty soon, so anything that the Village Council can do is helpful to put some pressure to control the aesthetics. For a small amount of money they can change the way the sidewalk and buildings will look.
Ms. Mailander noted for the record that Councilwoman Walsh was present.
Nancy Brennen-Hill, 136 Doremus Avenue, stated that she came to say a few more words about trees. She agrees with everything that Mr. Lowry said but she wanted to say how much these trees mean to her. She looks out her back window at night and the trees against the sky are gorgeous. In the morning she sits on the porch and drinks tea and looks at the street. She walks to Whole Foods and on the way there are big trees with big knots on them and they have to do something to sustain this beauty in Ridgewood. The only thing she can think of is that they need a dedicated tree person; someone who loves Ridgewood and loves the trees and has a passion for keeping this going. There are lovely volunteers, but they need someone to organize. She added that they need a chunk of money and a person in charge because without them it comes to nothing. Ms. Brennen-Hill asked that they get the right person in there to keep this all going.
Jon Wittmaack, 480 Upper Boulevard, stated that he was there because adjacent to his property there is a paper street and he is interested in purchasing the paper street from the town. He was there on the advice of Mr. Rogers to formally make that inquiry. He added that he knows it has happened in the past, as his neighbor purchased his section of it a long time ago but it is an unused piece of property that the town is maintaining and he would like to buy it. Mr. Wittmaack added that he had copies of his survey for the Village Council.
Saurabh Dani, 390 Bedford Road, stated that he was here related to the trees. As Nancy and Mr. Lowry mentioned, if they decided to ask for volunteers, he was willing to volunteer and he knew several other residents who would be willing to volunteer, as well. He asked the Village Council to guide them and they would do the labor. Mr. Dani added that regarding the Library, he interacted with several trustees in the past few months and those interactions were very good. He stated that since all of the Councilmembers and the Trustees are here today, and there is at least one Trustee who has not performed as a good Trustee, he thinks that the Village Council should be able to ask for resignations, or the person should resign. On the second part, there are residents who are not Trustees of the library who have invested a lot of time in the design review, so maybe there should be some way to get their input during this design and build process. Mr. Dani added that residents who are acting as Trustees should be allowed to give their input, and Trustees who are not acting appropriately should be asked to resign.
Steve Kim, 291 Highland Avenue, stated that the Ridgewood Library has proposed a $7.6 million renovation that doesn’t help the library expand its services by very much The Reimagined Library will have less usable floor space because of the enlarged staircase. The teen center will be a fraction of the staff space, situated right next to it. The kids area will not expand, and the book collection will be the same. ESL will not expand from the current 125 students because space isn’t what’s constraining that program. He asked what is the benefit of spending $7.6 million and living through 18 months of disruption and agony. Yes, they should update and reconfigure the library but let’s not gut it and put a hole through the floor for light and thereby effect the flow of the whole building. They should look for the most user value rather than what consumes the most dollar value.
Mr. Kim added that regarding the Library’s matching grant, he urged everyone to read the active regulation carefully because it doesn’t sound like they would be first in line for that money and it is highly contested. When we apply, we should be straightforward about facts. He added that he likes getting grant money, but they should do it the right way. Mr. Kim read an excerpt from the regulator. There was a survey, in order to get a glimpse of the immediate need, the State Library sent out a survey that identified over 170 projects totaling over $370 million. They acknowledged that the money would total even more than that and there are $125 million available, which should be put into consideration.
Judith Driver, 133 Godwin Avenue, stated that she originally came here to support shade trees in the Village, but she concurs with everything that has been said. She added that there is an electronic board at the Train Station that displays Village of Ridgewood business and it shows one message and then it disappears. She asked if at least once a minute they put the time of day on it as she would find that very helpful.
Reverend Lenwel Brown, Mount Bethel Baptist Church, stated he wanted to come by this evening to make a statement. About a week and a half ago he had the honor to go down to Falls Church, Virginia to visit the Kensington Senior Assisted Living Program. He was contacted by them and he went to see the facility. Falls Church is a town very similar to that of Ridgewood. While down there, he had the opportunity to meet the principles and staff and see what a program it was. He also took a ride through the town and realized that it was very similar to Ridgewood. He had the opportunity to meet the Mayor and one of the Councilmembers, as well. He was very impressed with the senior assisted living facility, as it was a phenomenal place. Two days ago he went to another facility of theirs in Westchester County and had an opportunity to look around there, as well. He wanted to share this with the Village Council and believes that the Kensington Corporation would be an asset to the Village. Reverend Brown stated that tonight he wanted to share with the Village Council his end of it because he believes that the Kensington Corporation would provide so much.
There were no additional comments from the public, and Mayor Hache closed public comments.
Mayor Hache thanked Mr. Wittmaack for sharing the paperwork and reading his case into the record and added that they would be in contact with him regarding his request.
3. MANAGERS REPORT
Election Day – Ms. Mailander reminded everyone that Election Day is Tuesday, November 5th. The polls are open from 6:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M. There is contest for General Assembly and Freeholders.
Village Council Meetings – Ms. Mailander stated that the upcoming Village Council meetings for the rest of this year are November 6th for a Work Session, November 13th for a Public Meeting, December 4th for a Work Session, and December 11th for the last Public Meeting of the year.
Water Department Hydrant Flushing – Ms. Mailander stated that the Water Department hydrant flushing began October 20th, and those customers who signed up for Swift Reach Reverse 911 received an advanced call regarding this maintenance project. Hydrant flushing is an essential part of the water system maintenance program, it helps Ridgewood Water provide quality water service. In order to cleanse the system they have to systemically open the fire hydrants to increase water flows. This allows them to flush any minerals and deposits from the pipes that may have accumulated. While flushing the system they will not interrupt water service to residents. When the crews are working in your area you may experience a temporary drop in water pressure or change in color, which is normal. If this happens, simply let your water run until it is clear. There are no health concerns associated with minerals that get stirred up, but residents are encouraged to avoid doing laundry while crews are working. If residents have any questions about routes, maps, or schedules, they can contact Neil Galone in our Water Department.
Chamber of Commerce - Ms. Mailander stated that the Chamber of Commerce is hosting Halloween in the Park with their annual Haunted Harvest event Saturday, October 26th with a rain date of October 27th, 11:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. in Memorial Park at Van Neste Square. Gather in the park to pick up a map of participating businesses. There will be a hay maze, pumpkin patch, and a Halloween parade for children at noon, and a pet parade at 1:00 P.M. Come have fun and meet the good witch.
Ridgewood Recreation – Ms. Mailander stated that there will be children’s programs scheduled for the Teacher’s Convention Recess. On November 7th, there will be a live animal show and a Lego Minecraft engineering for grades K-2 and 3-5. Additional information can be found on the Recreation Department website.
Bergen County Utilities Authority – Ms. Mailander stated that the Bergen County Utilities Authority sponsors free recycling events throughout the year. The last household hazardous waste collection will take place on Saturday, November 16th from 9:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. at the Bergen County Utilities Authority which is at Empire Boulevard in Moonachie. Items that will be collected are aerosol cans, fluorescent lightbulbs, paints and varnishes, and propane gas cylinders. The event is rain or shine and you do need proof of Bergen County residency.
Ridgewood Farmers Market – Ms. Mailander stated that the Ridgewood Farmers Market, sponsored by the Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce will remain open through November 24th from 9:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. at the Ridgewood Train Station.
4. COUNCIL REPORTS
Citizen Safety Advisory Committee – Councilman Voigt stated that they met on October 17th and had discussions about the Franklin Avenue corridor, the work that Bergen County and the Village are doing related to that, and there are design drawings in the works. They met the week of October 7th, and the County will produce plans for each intersection along that corridor which includes Maple and East Ridgewood intersection, Maple and Franklin, Franklin and Oak, and Franklin and Broad. The County is committed to paying for the basics of the intersections and if the Village wants to make it more decorative, they will pay additionally. The idea is to make bump outs to make the crosswalk shorter at each of the intersections. There may be some land taking, so that may create some issues, and the goal is to continue to communicate with Bergen County to ensure we maintain our spot on the hierarchy of priorities.
CBDAC mentioned that they are looking at potential measures to upgrade the lighting at busy intersections. The flashing speed sign which is to be placed on North Walnut, arrived yesterday and the plan is to install it next week. It will be mid-street between Linwood and Franklin. The sidewalk extension plan on West Glen is to be reinitiated next Spring for Hillcrest to Heights.
League of Women Voters – Councilman Voigt stated that the Sierra Club and the League of Women Voters met last week, and Jeff Tittle with the Sierra Club talked about global warming which is the biggest issue. They asked him what they could do in Bergen County, and his number one priority is to plant as many trees as possible.
Planning Board – Councilwoman Knudsen stated that the Planning Board met on the 15th for a number of ordinance reviews that the Village Council sent back to the Planning Board. First was the sign descending letters, and the bright and brilliant colors, and they also worked on the garage issue with the driveway which is going to be kicked back as it was written. She thinks the Planner did state that it achieves the goals or objectives based on that lot improvement coverage. They also discussed the request by Steel Wheel for those outdoor vestibules, and the Planner is going to prepare a draft ordinance for the Village Council to review.
Councilwoman Knudsen stated that there was a major subdivision application for 232-250 North Maple Avenue which has drawn a lot of interested from residents. The meeting was well attended and that application testimony was from the engineer but was going to be carried to January 7, 2020.
Diwali Festival – Councilman Sedon stated that the Village Councilmembers were invited to the Diwali Festival over the weekend which was great fun and food. The Mayor and Councilwoman Knudsen were there and it was a lot of fun. He thanked the Ridgewood Indian Community for sponsoring that and putting it together.
Mayor Hache added that it was a great and wonderful celebration, and he wore a kurta which he borrowed.
Green Team and Green Ridgewood and the Shade Tree Commission – Councilman Sedon stated that on October 19th the Green Team, Green Ridgewood, and the Shade Tree Commission all met at the same time. Green Ridgewood is revamping the green business recognition program. Volunteers have been going out to the community to try to get more restaurants and retail people involved. They are exploring the possibility of recycling food waste and talking to restaurant owners about this program and what they do with their food waste, which is a good way to collect some information to roll this program out in the future. Right now, the infrastructure isn’t in Bergen County, but it is a good way to collect some information so that they can try and roll this program out in the future.
Councilman Sedon stated that the education for the plastic bag ban is being rolled out and things are finalized so they will start seeing people around handing out plastic bags and bookmarks. Andrew Lowry mentioned that the Shade Tree Commission should consider their plans for the downtown developments as far as planting trees as the sidewalks are not in place yet.
Councilman Sedon stated that one of the other things that came up is that they are in their third year of their five year plan. It is critically important to get the tree survey accomplished because this would be a baseline for them to find out exactly how many trees they have on the streets of Ridgewood, as right now they are guessing because there hasn’t been a formal count done. This will tell the condition, species, where it is located, and also help to apply for larger grants from the State Shade Tree Federation which could be close to $300,000. Having this in place would be key to moving forward and getting a lot of trees planted in Ridgewood.
The Nursery Committee has discussed several ideas, and resident planting came out of that and they are going to talk about that tonight in the agenda.
Grand Openings – Mayor Hache stated that October 17th was the Grand Opening of Flora’s Cottage on 7 North Broad Street. It is downstairs, and one side is facials and the other is over 17 organic brands of skin care products. They also had a Grand Opening on Monday, at 38 Oak Street of Northeast Laser Vein Institute.
This Friday, October 4th at 5:30 P.M. there is a grand opening for Stretch Recovery Lounge at 29 Godwin Avenue. Saturday, October 5th at 12:00 P.M. Café De Royal is opening, as well.
Blue Star Dinner – Mayor Hache stated that last Friday they had the Blue Star Dinner in the Community Center at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Councilwoman Walsh was there and it was a wonderful event. Commander Paoli held a wonderful ceremony in honor of those families who have sons and daughters serving in our nation’s armed forces. There were four new families who joined the group this year.
a. Age Friendly Ridgewood – Survey of Older Residents
Ms. Mailander invited Beth Abbot, Sue Ulrich, and Sheila Brogan to present on a survey that Age Friendly Ridgewood conducted on Older Adults. Beth Abbot and Sheila Brogan introduced themselves. Ms. Abbot stated that they appreciated the opportunity to speak to the Village Council tonight and were presenting some results from their recent survey of Ridgewood residents 55 and over, which are a quarter of our population in Ridgewood. They started Age Friendly Ridgewood in 2015 with another survey of the older population and designed the survey around the AARP eight livable domains. They used survey monkey to run the survey and also distributed paper copies around town. In both cases, they also hired a neutral third party research firm to clean the data and analyze the results. This time they also helped with the questions to make sure they were clear and valuable. The research firm advised that 360 would be a credible number of responses. They had 384.
Ms. Abbot stated that they tried hard to promote the survey and also to reach the individuals they haven’t reached before. They asked about transportation services, rideshare service use, pedestrian safety, housing, maintenance, information gathering, speaker events, and how Age Friendly Ridgewood is doing. The questions, results, and statistics are already posted on the Age Friendly Ridgewood website under the surveys tab. She displayed some of the demographics of who responded to the survey, which were similar to who responded to their initial survey.
Ms. Brogan stated that in their initial survey, they asked questions about housing and the response from the over 700 people that answered were that they wanted the Village to look at developing housing options for seniors that are affordable, but even more are smaller in scale and different options. On their follow up survey they asked respondents what would make it easier to stay in Ridgewood. They also hear from residents a desire to stay in Ridgewood and in their own home. She added that they are having a program next Tuesday at the Library about Aging in Place, and to explore what services are available in the County and locally. Ms. Brogan added that the County has put together a Guide to Home Improvement Services, and they are trying to make sure that resources are available for older adults.
Ms. Brogan stated that they asked about leaf raking and snow shoveling, and she added that they are looking at a subscription service called Umbrella, and there will be some information about that at the housing forum next Tuesday, as well. Residents talked about transportation in the initial survey to offer services later and point to point service, pedestrian safety to improve, street lighting and sidewalk repairs. In the follow up survey on transportation, only 6% of the respondents are using the senior bus, which they view as a challenge to make sure that the older adults are aware of this service and the option. They are so pleased that the Village purchased a new bus, and in order to create awareness they have had some specialty bus rides. Ms. Brogan added that they created a brochure with the bus options and coupon program, giving residents a number of options, and they are also exploring the idea of doing a video next spring on the bus and coupon service to raise awareness of this opportunity. She added that 34% of respondents had never used a rideshare.
Ms. Brogan stated that regarding pedestrian safety, 45% of respondents thought that the central business district was still unsafe for pedestrians and they had a number of suggestions that were shared with the Village Council. She noted that a majority of the respondents listed Franklin Avenue and Ridgewood Avenue as particularly unsafe for pedestrians. So, they are grateful of the Village pushing ahead with the County and having that partnership to improve Franklin Avenue. On communications, people listed getting their information from the Village E-notices. She suggested looking at more frequent opportunities to get that information out. Ms. Brogan added that the library sends E-notices, as well.
Ms. Brogan stated that people would like to receive information from Age Friendly sources, but again Village E-notices and public library are the two they follow. She added that was significant as the newspaper is not so robust in the information offered. They have had some luck and are very grateful to the Ridgewood Library and the Community Center for allowing speakers in on aging issues. She listed what people were interested in, and the response from 35% was housing options. The perceived impact of Age Friendly, showed 73% of respondents were familiar with Age Friendly, and 70% felt they perceived a difference, and 45% feel concerns about community support and services have been addressed. Going forward, respondents said there needs further work on pedestrian safety, housing, transportation, and interestingly enough they requested having a range of activities and events to engage residents 55 to 70 years old.
Councilman Voigt asked if Ms. Brogan could send their information regarding pedestrian safety to the Bergen County Freeholders and County Executive to let them know how important it is and continue to reinforce the concerns that they have on Franklin Avenue. Ms. Brogan stated that they would be happy to, and they know that the ball is in the Village’s court to do some of the work. Ms. Abbot stated that the five Age Friendly town coordinators just met with Michele DiIorgi and Julien Neals who work with Mr. Tedesco, and they brought that up and seemed already aware. Councilman Voigt stated that it never hurts to reinforce.
Councilman Voigt stated that he found it interesting that 27% needed help with technology, and he asked if that meant 73% were actually comfortable with it. Ms. Brogan stated that the question was about speaking events, and they had answered that they were interested in a speaking event about technology. Councilman Voigt stated that you couldn’t make an inference that 73% were comfortable with technology. Ms. Abbot stated that was only for respondents, but Ms. Brogan added that the bulk of surveys were done online. Councilman Voigt added that it was good to hear there was a comfort level. Ms. Brogan highlighted the library, adding that they have a technology lab. Councilman Voigt stated that it was also nice to see all of the different programs that are offered at the library adding that it has become like a community center. Ms. Brogan also mentioned the grant from Columbia Bank which allowed the community center to get 8 computers, which is great and will give another opportunity for older adults to become familiar with different kinds of technology.
Mayor Hache stated that they were bringing in Columbia Bank to the November 13th meeting to be recognized for their generosity and their gift.
Ms. Abbot added that regarding technology, one person suggested having a place where people could bring alarm clocks and appliances that tend to be a challenge to set up, and she added that was something that was worth looking into. Ms. Brogan stated that could be a Makerspace.
Councilwoman Walsh asked about the transportation, and if they were to assume everyone is driving everywhere themselves and are not using the public transportation at all. Ms. Brogan stated that public transportation is so interesting, and a lot of people are still driving but many are restricting their driving. For instance, they may be driving during the day and avoiding highways and busy parking lots. She stated that is the population they can open up the doors to for options to use the available transportation when they need it. They want to introduce people to the bus. Councilwoman Walsh stated that it didn’t delve into the ones that don’t use it, or why they aren’t using it more. She asked if it was a scheduling problem, or that they can’t understand the schedule, or that it doesn’t fit the places they want to go to. She suggested doing a survey of the people who actually ride the bus. Ms. Abbot stated that she thinks they need to get those people together and do a focus group.
Councilwoman Walsh stated that looking at the statistics for a suburban area, they are really strange and she is curious and could we get more information about that. Ms. Brogan stated that was a challenge for them to figure out why it wasn’t being used, and yet they hear about the need all the time. She added that some of it is that it’s restrictive in terms of its hours. Last year there was a request to go to Ramsey and they didn’t have the ridership that they thought they would, so now they are trying the Wyckoff Shopping Center as well as around Ridgewood. Ms. Abbot added that Janet Fricke and Beth Spinato have done a lot to get the word out and working with Age Friendly to try different things. Ms. Brogan stated that they were going to work on that.
Councilwoman Knudsen stated that she was so confused by the survey. She stated that the format she received in the packet is very different than what was in the presentation. She added that she was very interested in the topic, and they want to make sure that they serve the older population appropriately and meet the needs as the population ages. She cited 73% of respondents were familiar with Age Friendly Ridgewood, but on the document she received over 50% had little to no knowledge of Age Friendly. There was some discussion about the documents. Ms. Abbot stated that the “Not at All” respondents were the only ones that weren’t counted in the 73%. Councilwoman Knudsen clarified that the “Not at All” were removed from that calculation. Ms. Abbot stated that this was what Montclair made for them. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that she gets what they did. Ms. Abbot stated that they laughed at themselves that they went to get more respondents and handed out postcards to the Farmers Market who were people that may not have heard of the organization before. Councilwoman Knudsen added that she thought she had the wrong document at first.
Councilwoman Knudsen stated that her mother is a long time resident and is 83 years old, and was not communicated with to take this survey, so she wanted to ask about the methodology and the outreach. She added that the respondents were a very small percentage of the population. Ms. Abbot stated that they had postcards in Village Hall, Ms. Mailander put it in the E-notice, there was a Letter to the Editor in the Ridgewood News, and they went to HILT adult group meetings. Ms. Brogan added that postcards, placemats at Daily Treat, the Farmers Market, the library, and hard copies as well as survey monkey. She added that the survey was done in June and July, which is always an interesting month, and they also had information at the Graydon breakfast.
Councilwoman Knudsen asked about there being no questions relevant to the Senior Tax Freeze, which is so critical for individuals who want to stay in Ridgewood and is a really crucial piece. She asked about questions for the more granular programs to help people age in place. Ms. Brogan stated that she did a talk last year on all of the property tax relief programs, and every year they do a presentation on the Homestead benefit and the Senior Freeze. She added that at their housing meeting, she developed informational flyers on both of those programs which she has given to Ms. Mailander and a number of other towns that have publicized the programs through brochures. Councilwoman Knudsen suggested a checklist of the available programs because it is significant to aging in place, she added that she would be reaching out in the future with more questions.
Councilman Sedon stated that it has been about four years that Age Friendly Ridgewood has been immersed in the subject, and asked in all that time, what is the top concern they have from older residents. Ms. Abbot and Ms. Brogan stated that it was housing options, and Ms. Brogan added that it was the availability to downsize and stay in Ridgewood in a way that was accessible. Second was transportation, and she added that was why you do a survey and try to figure out what it is. She added that affordability would be the next concern which she thinks is a New Jersey problem as well as a Ridgewood problem. Councilman Sedon asked if they had any recommendations as to how to increase housing options or transportation. Ms. Brogan stated what they hear is the possibility of a town house or a condo, something they would be able to reinvest in rather than rental units if they sold their house. However, she has also heard that some will be happy to have the rental opportunities. They are clear that people want a variety of options that we don’t really have in Ridgewood, and people do seem to really want to stay here.
Mayor Hache added that what stood out the most as he met with some other older adult residents who had a tough time with electronics was participation and the use of technology which is wonderful and this was in contrast to that. He added that the biggest surprise was the number of transportation options and he was happy that there were so many choices. Maybe if there’s a way to create the programming to get people out and wanting to do more things, and give them more of the reasons to use the transportation and make it work. Ms. Brogan added that Mayor Hache is so right, because when you decide not to drive any longer you are cutting off a lot of your social life. With transportation, the ideal would be to normalize your life. They asked Janet Fricke if they wanted to meet a friend for lunch but they don’t drive, could they use the bus to do that. She responded that there is a flexibility in the services and that they need to make sure people understand.
Mayor Hache stated that he was surprised by the low participation in the survey, and it would be great to see what the ways are that they can get in front of residents and get the participation rate up. There are a lot of things that come up when you talk to people and in the trends, and some of the feedback during the Master Plan Visioning Workshops. He added it was about all of them being together and to figure out what they can do to drive this dialogue. Ms. Brogan stated that they were so grateful to work with the Village Council and New Jersey Futures. Councilwoman Knudsen asked if she could be sent a link for the umbrella, as she would like to take a look at it as something they could add to the Village website. Ms. Brogan stated that there were a few different ones. Ms. Abbot stated that they were going to create a pamphlet with the options. Ms. Brogan stated that she had a good document that the County is printing which she had provided to Ms. Mailander.
b. Library Renovation Update
Nancy Greene, Gail Campbell, Rebecca Rubenstein, Rocco Orlando, Renu Vitale were presenting on the library renovation update. Before beginning their presentation, Ms. Greene stated that the Library has a tech program specifically for senior citizens from 10:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M., specifically so they can take the senior bus, and they can take alarm clocks or any kind of device that they are having trouble with and there are staff there to help them. She added that most of tonight’s presentation is going to be done by the volunteers that are putting their heart and soul into making the library the best it can be for the community. She introduced the presenters for the evening and also thanked the Friends and Foundation members that were there that evening.
Ms. Rubenstein stated that Ridgewood residents have significantly increased the use of the library with greater demand for programs and services, technology and workspace. The current infrastructure does not support the existing and potential future and community needs. To this end, the Library has thoughtfully identified key areas of need to create a concept renovation plan which was previously presented to the Village Council a year ago. The total investment required is $7.7 million. The library now has a viable opportunity to receive a once in a generation matching state grant and is therefore asking the Village Council for $2 million to compliment a private fundraise of $2 million, which will enable an application for a $3.7 million match from the state. Ms. Rubenstein stated that in the next few minutes they would do a quick refresher of the case to renovate and then spend the rest of the time addressing community concerns including timing and next steps.
Ms. Rubenstein stated that the demand for programs, services, technology, and workspace has outpaced the anticipated demand of the 1998 renovation, and the current infrastructure does not support current needs. Since 1998 the demand for physical books and media has grown only 13%, paling in comparison to the 250% to 300% growth in program attendance and reference usage. Both of which require additional technology and space. The growth of demand reflects the needs of all demographics of Ridgewood. She stated that in 1998 you would have seen patrons looking at stacks of books. Now you see teens crammed into the stacks, standing room only at events in the auditorium, and the library frequently saying no to requests for meeting space. Ms. Rubenstein stated that since the request only allows them to reconfigure the current space, the library will not have to reduce the size of the current physical book collection.
Ms. Campbell, President of the Board of Trustees, stated that she was going to address the financial impact of the project. They are asking the Village Council for $2 million, as the Capital Campaign Committee is committed to raising $2 million and to date they have raised $1,850,000, thanks in large part to the generous challenge grant made by the Bolger Foundation and the generosity of Ridgewood residents. Together, the $4 million will allow them to apply for a $3.7 million grant offered by the New Jersey Library Construction Bond Act. In total, if they receive the grants, they will have $7.7 million to finance the project. The impact on the average Ridgewood household would be $16.58 a year for 20 years. They are committed to continue to fundraise and to modify their plans based on the money available to fund the project.
Ms. Campbell wanted to address some of the concerns that have been raised about the project. First, there have been questions about what if they don’t receive the full amount of the grant or receive no grant. In that case, they will not ask the Village Council for more than $2 million. Next, Mr. Orlando, resident architect, will come up with an alternative plan based on their goals of the project which will be discussed in a few minutes. Even if they only have $4 million, they strongly believe that this is the time to renovate because the library needs to modernize to address current needs.
Regarding the concept plan, Ms. Campbell stated that the staircase has been a lightning rod. It was put in to address strategic goals, but it will be addressed in the design/development stage once they know their budget. The design/development stage will include the communities input, and they are open to revising their concept plan. The capital campaign will continue to fundraise and has already raised over $1.8 million. She added that another issue is parking, which is really a separate issue as during some of the time the parking is a problem but the renovation will have only a minimal, if any, impact. In addition, trends in biking, walking, and ridesharing may also relieve some of the problems with parking. Ms. Campbell stated that questions have been raised about library services during construction. They expect to keep parts of the library open during construction and programs may be held in nearby locations, residents will also have access to BCCLS and digital services.
Rocco Orlando discussed the alternative plan. He stated that he is an architect in New Jersey for 25 years and has been in commercial construction for the last 30 years. He added that he was happy to be able to help out and look at the independent construction estimates that were received in 2016 and 2018 and compare them to the conceptual plan that they have. They are open to modifying the plan as needed and open to all of the suggestions that they have received, so far. The new teen room is something that is very important in the overall design, so that will remain as the key element to keep intact. Small meeting and study rooms on the mezzanine that they were looking to expand, they wont be able to do with the modified budget, so they will have to look at that area closely. The design calls for a very nice center staircase that handles many different factors, brings in light and opens up the space but adds a connection between the lower and upper level and improves natural light and flow. With the reduced budget, they are looking to take the existing staircase and open it up to still get that connection between the floors. The plan calls for all new furnishings, but they would have to cut back significantly if they didn’t receive all the funds. The new plan was looking to modify and relocate existing restrooms and locating single bathrooms throughout the library, but they are looking to remove them to increase the flow of the library. Last is the expansion and changing of the existing auditorium which is something they are unable to do if the budget is reduced.
Ms. Campbell stated that timing is very important to them right now, and the best information is that the applications to apply for the state grant will be available around November 1st. Once the applications are available, they will have 90 days to submit. When submitting, they have to state that they have or will have matching funds, so that gives them until January 1st to raise $2 million and for the Village to appropriate $2 million, so that they may apply for the $3.7 million state grant. After that, they anticipate that the grants will be awarded by August 1st and then after that they will move into design development, specification will be prepared, issued and awarded and they would break ground in early 2021.
Ms. Campbell stated that the next steps are to work with the Village’s grant writer to prepare he application, continue to fundraise, secure $2 million from the Village Council, apply for the grant, and then revise the project based on available funds.
Councilman Voigt stated that there was a comment made earlier by one of the residents earlier that it was all about the books, and his concern is that it seems to him that the residents may be ill-informed as to why the inside needs to change and they may want to think about making sure that people understand the reasons for this. He added that he was uncomfortable as people aren’t really understanding, and added that it really isn’t about the books. He asked when they needed an answer from the Village Council on the $2 million. Ms. Campbell stated that when they apply for the grant they have to say that the funds are or will be available, and the earliest that it will be due is January 30th. She has to be confident. Councilman Voigt stated that there is a process and they will need to work back from when they need to vote on that as it needs to be introduced, public hearing, voted on, so they may want to think about the timing on that. Ms. Campbell stated that they were discussing that last night and Councilwoman Walsh was helping them with the meeting dates.
Councilman Voigt stated that he was very impressed with the amount of money that has been raised through private funding. Ms. Campbell stated that they were very happy about that. Councilman Voigt asked how much more they think they were going to get. Ms. Campbell stated that they didn’t know, but they would continue to fundraise. Councilman Voigt stated that from a reasonableness standpoint, for the Village Council to give $2 million, it makes infinite sense that they would want to do something like that because they are really only paying for half to a third of it. He added that from a perspective of why he moved here, it was because of the schools, the downtown, and the library which is a crown jewel in the town and probably the best library in Bergen County. They have to keep it up to date with the times as it really is a community center. The issue is that they need to reconfigure the space to meet the function which right now is as a community center. So, it needs to look like that inside and not like a traditional library. He added that he was fully supportive of what they were doing and that he was happy to help.
Ms. Rubenstein stated that regarding Councilman Voigt’s question about the marketing, that is a fair point and one of the great things is that there has been more information in the newspapers and they should be seeing a lot more presence in terms of the library’s communication so the residents understand that they are trying to bring better value to them.
Councilwoman Walsh stated that she has been sitting with them and working with them over these months and she was appreciative of all the work that the residents and volunteers have been putting into this. She added that when she moved to the Village she was able to use and appreciate the last renovation. The library is a resource for people to come in. She was floored that they were able to raise $850,000 from donations from people who appreciate the library and anyone who donates money gives what they can. That shows her the passion that people have for the library and it is always a resource that people use. She is fully supportive of the project and she knows that nothing is perfect and the fact that they are willing to understand that there may need to be some changes in the plan, and the flexibility of that was important for others who may not be a convinced of the plan. She added that she was hoping that this would go forward and they can be one of the benefactors of the money from New Jersey.
Councilwoman Knudsen stated that the logo is one of the cleanest logos that she has seen in a long time, and asked Ms. Greene to give him a shout out. Ms. Greene stated that this was done by one of their ESL students, who is a resident with a young family who came to the ESL program because he moved here from China and needed to develop an international presence for his graphic arts business.
Councilwoman Knudsen stated that she had some concerns as they have heard people on the dais say that bonding something has to bring with it a revenue stream, and they have to clear from the desk that this isn’t a revenue stream item and not everything would be. She added that her biggest concern is with the auditorium as she thinks that’s a big ticket item and not a big bang for the buck. She stated that she would like to see the alternate plan, as that mostly she’s good with it but has real concerns about the auditorium. Ms. Campbell stated that if they don’t get enough money to do the project, the auditorium would wait to get renovated at all and they are very flexible about squaring off that corner, so they are certainly listening to the concerns and taking it very seriously.
Councilwoman Knudsen stated that it is a matching grant, so technically they aren’t at $1.8 million, but she finds if amazing that all of those folks leaned in and she would be interested to see how many donors that actually turned out to be. Ms. Rubenstein stated that was all raised on very quiet fundraising and they haven’t even gone out to the public yet. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that she would like to understand the alternate plan and see if there was some hybrid in there. She added that it was a beautiful project and they love it the way it is and she’s sure they’ll love whatever iteration it is, but she would love to see the alternate plans.
Mr. Orlando stated that right now they didn’t modify or draw a plan up, they did based on what the need is and what they can modify in the existing concept plan because they have to hire an architect so the idea was to prioritize what they needed, use that as a starting point, and then hire an architect and see what they need to do. He added that it is absolutely in need of a $4 million make up as a minimum based on what’s there now and the more they get the better. Ms. Rubenstein added that anything they do to create an alternative plan will involve community input. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that was is critical is the word need as the question is balancing wants and needs and understanding, and when they say $16.58 per house it is interesting because that’s on the average tax bill, so when they look at that and as it goes up its more and the budget comes up in January/February. The BOE has a huge referendum and they have their tax increases, and so starting to look at how those numbers start to add up and they just heard from Age Friendly and their documents talk about taxes, and she knows $16.58 doesn’t sound like a lot but when they starting adding and compounding it is a lot and she wants to understand the options.
Ms. Greene stated that one thing with the auditorium is that they only add about 52 spaces which isn’t a lot for a $1 million expansion, but one of the things is they could get a better divider than the one that they have now which takes two people half an hour, and they would have two useable spaces so they would double the usable spaces there and 52 more seats would make a difference. Last Sunday, there was a conference with a band and they brought a band with 157 people in attendance and people standing in the back, so there would be benefits. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that she thought the additional seats were because the present configuration there were no seats in the center aisle, and with the new design there were only actually about 24 seats in the corner. Ms. Greene stated that she has a wonderful memory, but they did fix that so that they have the same divider in the middle of the rows with the new plan and the larger expansion than they have now because people don’t like to slide across 20 seats. Ms. Campbell stated that if they don’t get the $7.7 million, the auditorium is the first thing that they won’t do. Ms. Rubenstein added that this whole effort has been needs driven and they have had lots of data and community input to see that this is what they need in order to support the current use.
Councilman Sedon stated that between the presentation and Councilwoman Knudsen’s questions his questions were answered. Mayor Hache stated that he was grateful that they had an architect on the Board, and the things that they are thinking about today, so much has changed since the last renovation and how they have moved away from physical books and media and program attendance, reference, and data base usage. He can appreciate that so far they have been preparing themselves fiscally in the event that they don’t get all the funding that they need. Mayor Hache stated that they would get the money because they have so much support within the community. He added that he would be more optimistic and what would happen as far as the impact of moving into the construction, and he thinks they will be able to keep the public engaged and bring the library to them while construction is going on. He asked about one the slides where he saw they were eligible for up to $4 million matching grant and where was that coming from.
Ms. Greene stated that they would pay up to 50% of a project cost, and at $7.7 million, they would pay no more than half the cost. The State has not said if they are going to establish a maximum per library or of they were going to do an all or nothing approach. There are so many unanswered questions right now, but he is right with the use of the library being different. She added that they sat down with the grant writer and she spent some time going over the regulations and how the Library is used and the areas that need updating. He feels that they have a very strong case and a good possibility of getting grant funding. The grant regulations named 4 overriding priorities and public spaces and community centers for civic, educational, and recreational purposes. Ms. Greene added that the library is a wonderful way to bring people together face to face. Ms. Rubenstein added that when meeting with the grant writer, they were saying that he is also working with Passaic, which was non-compliant for disabilities, so there is a lot of competition for this. He looked at the data and said that it changed things and he walked around and said it was a competitive bid. So, seeing the library in action and the need space driven data, his whole attitude shifted.
Councilwoman Knudsen asked if they could go through the timeline and how long the library would be closed. Ms. Greene stated is trying to estimate from the 1998 experience, when they added 14,000 square feet and did asbestos abatement, and it was done within a year. It seems to her that they could do this within a year, as well. Mr. Orlando agreed, and added that it all depends on what they are doing inside as it is interior and climate controlled conditions which cuts down on the timeframe that they need for construction. Councilwoman Knudsen asked about the structural perspective. Mr. Orlando stated that it was in element, so it is minimal and there are structural columns, so it was just a matter of interior walls that are being opened up to increase the flow inside the library.
Ms. Greene added that if anyone wants more information they can go to the library website and there is a button that says reimagine, and that brings you to a video, PowerPoint, and separate website about the project, and she would email them the link.
Councilwoman Walsh asked if Ms. Mailander could back into the timing for them. So, if it is January 31st, they would need to introduce in December and adopt in January, but if there was a majority, they could introduce in November and adopt in January. Mr. Rogers asked Ms. Campbell if they said they were going to file January 1st or January 30th. Ms. Campbell stated that if the applications become available November 1st then they have 90 days. So, the earliest would be around January 30th. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that she understood that if they were to adopt a resolution saying that they were committing, then that was sufficient for the application. The grant process from the time of application from the time of award could be 8 or 9 months, so they wouldn’t want to bond too soon, but would want to wait so they would just need the resolution to attach to it. Mr. Rogers stated that they should talk to the grant writer to see if there was one that was stronger than the other in terms of the commitment. Certainly, if there was a commitment to adopt a resolution by ordinance that would state exactly what you might need. Ms. Greene stated that they don’t need the money in hand, they need the commitment. Councilwoman Knudsen agreed.
Mr. Rogers stated that the bonding is an ordinance and you can vote on and ordain a bond ordinance without committing the money but at least that provides the process for getting the money. A resolution committing to the $2 million from the Council as part of the grant application is another way of doing this. Councilman Voigt asked about the resolution if it’s a 3-2 vote or a 4-1 vote. Mr. Rogers stated that even with an introduced bond ordinance is 3-2, to pass it its 4-1, with a resolution it passes with 3-2. That was one of things that they also talked about because that is the official record and would show the voting record on it as well. Ms. Greene stated that if they were to present a resolution with their grant application showing only 3-2 she thinks the State would feel there wasn’t solid local support for this. Mr. Rogers agreed that was a concern. Ms. Mailander asked if they want to introduce in November or talk about it again and introduce in December. Councilwoman Walsh stated that she would say the sooner that they could get it done, because the application can go in sooner and they don’t have to wait until the January 30th deadline, and it shouldn’t be the Village Council holding them up. Mr. Rogers stated that it makes sense with the submittal of the grant that if it is done ahead of time it looks more positive.
Councilman Voigt asked if a resolution was sufficient under the grant application. Ms. Greene stated that it was written in the regulations that a resolution or ordinance, but the application materials have not been released yet. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that she still needs to understand the alternate project and what the other options are. Mr. Orlando asked what she would like to see. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that she would like to see the alternate project and she would like to understand that, and she would reach out to Ms. Greene. Mr. Orlando stated that he would be happy to put something together. Ms. Greene stated that worst case scenario, they get no grant. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that she was still concerned about the auditorium piece.
Ms. Greene stated that maybe they would do better with the fundraising than they are anticipating and maybe they would have more to spend, or maybe the state gives a partial grant, and the budget right now is such a moving target. Ms. Mailander stated that they should be able to discuss it one more time at the November 6th work session and then they can decide if they are ready to move forward with the resolution on November 13th. Mr. Rogers stated that might be helpful to draft the resolution so that they can see it ahead of time. Ms. Greene stated that she could try reaching out to the state and seeing if it is appropriate. Mr. Rogers stated that he didn’t know if that was a good thing to do, but if it is she could go ahead. Ms. Greene stated that if Councilwoman Knudsen wanted to come by she would be happy to go over it with her.
1. Award Professional Services Contract – Hudson Street Garage – Environmental Services
Ms. Mailander stated that they received a proposal from First Environment to assist the construction effort for the garage as they are dealing with some environmental issues related to the excavated materials that will need to be disposed of. This is for a resolution to begin the process with additional funding needed for the exposing of the materials at a cost of $50,000.
2. Award Contract – Beveled Brick Ring for Tree Wells
Ms. Mailander stated that there were seven plan holders eligible to bid and they received three bids. They ranged from $71,950 to $375,750. The low bid was from Bello-Grande Contracting of Saddle River. They submitted a complete bid package, are familiar to the Village, have worked previously for the Village, and the recommendation is to award the work to them.
Councilwoman Knudsen stated that they are removing the bands, but on there it says to remove the brick tree well rings and brick band restoration, repair damage brick band and reset the bricks. She wanted to understand what they were removing. Ms. Mailander stated that they were removing around the trees, but there was a line down the sidewalk also so that is what is going to be replaced. Councilman Sedon asked about timing. Ms. Mailander stated that if everyone was in agreement they were going to award it tonight and it depends on the weather and the availability of this contractor. Councilman Sedon stated that he was glad to see this moving forward as it’s the bare minimum they could do to help the trees survive. Ms. Mailander thanked Mr. Rutishauser as he got this done quickly and was able to put some other things to the side and get this done.
3. Donation for Fire Department
Ms. Mailander stated that the Fire House on West Glen Avenue improvements were made to the driveway which was widened and a wall was taken down. The driveway was repaved and an island was made in the front. R&S Landscaping of Midland Park said that they would like to donate plants and the labor to plant them on the island. The total of this donation would be $1,272. They do not have any applications before any Village Boards or Committees at this time.
4. Amendment to Salary Ordinance
Ms. Mailander stated that one amendment is to bring into line the title for the Supervisor in Parks to General Supervisor Parks and the other is to modify the range for the Supervisor of Sanitation and Recycling to reflect the actual salary of that position. Councilwoman Knudsen asked why is it that title changed. Ms. Mailander stated that it is a Civil Service Title, and they are aligning it with that.
5. Award Contract – Improvements to Graydon Pool Restrooms
Ms. Mailander stated that this was just accepted this morning. Two bids were received and ranged from $238,000 to $247,500. The low bid was from Tri-Plex Industries of South Amboy. They submitted a complete bid package, and are a new firm to the Village. They were at the bid opening and asked how quickly they could get started. They could award it tonight if everyone was in agreement and maybe it could get going.
Councilman Sedon stated this was something that has been talked about for several years and it was good that he sounds excited to get to work. The Village Council was in agreement that they were excited. Ms. Mailander thanked Connolly and Hickey who helped with the specifications, and Mr. Rutishauser who got it advertised.
1. Rental Office Space – Epic
Ms. Mailander stated that usually there is a job trailer but it wasn’t going to fit on this site especially when the crane comes in. There was a storefront on Hudson Street that was available, and the Village will be renting the space and then subletting it to Epic who will be reimbursing the Village for all rental fees. Councilwoman Knudsen asked if that was on a resolution. Ms. Mailander stated that it was a two part resolution, with one as the Village leasing it and the other subletting it. Councilwoman Knudsen asked what numbers it was and Mr. Rogers stated the numbers.
Councilman Sedon made a motion to suspend the Work Session and go to a Special Public Meeting. Councilwoman Knudsen seconded the motion.
7. SPECIAL PUBLIC MEETING - SEE SEPARATE MINUTES
Councilman Sedon made a motion to adjourn the Special Public Meeting and reconvene the Work Session. Councilwoman Knudsen seconded the motion.
Roll Call Vote
AYES: Councilmembers Knudsen, Sedon, Voigt, Walsh, and Mayor Hache
a. Ridgewood Water
1. Award Contract – Improvements to Well Houses and Transfer Stations
Ms. Mailander stated that there are various improvements required at Ridgewood Water’s Southside Booster Station, Eder Well, and Lakeview Well and Transfer Station. The improvement work includes replacement of old pumps and motors, new HVAC systems, new electric service, new emergency standby generators, modification to chamber entrance to eliminate confined space entry, fencing around sites, security signage and lighting, new doors and windows, painting and/or waterproofing. There were four bids received out of nine bids that were picked up. D.J. Egarian and Associates is the Engineer who was hired to oversee this project and the low bidder is B. Puntasecca Contractors Inc., with a bid of $1,987,654.32. The funding for this project is in the Water Capital Budget.
2. Cancellation of Water Utility Budget Appropriations
Ms. Mailander stated that this is to cancel the Water Utility Budget Appropriations for purchase of bulk water and credit card processing fees. The Water Utility is projecting a shortfall on Water revenues due to the excessive precipitation the State has received this year, in addition to the delay of implementation of the credit card payment plan until 2020. Cancelling the Water Utility budget appropriations will offset the projected shortfall in Water revenues, thus reducing the potential of an operating deficit for 2019, and a strain on the 2020 budget.
3. Declare Surplus – 2008 Ford F250 Super Cab 4 x 4
Ms. Mailander stated that Ridgewood Water is recommending a 2008 Ford F250 Super Cab 4 x 4 as surplus as it was taken out of service in July 2018 due to the need for excessive repairs that exceeded the value of the vehicle.
1. Parking Meter Rates
Ms. Mailander stated that they will have to decide what kind of increase they may have at the parking meters coming up in January. Bob Rooney, CFO, and Parking Utility Director, stated that after the previous discussions, he went back and looked at the revenues and compared them to Walker’s expectations because they are relying on that for the timing of the increases. He compared June 30th with the five different scenarios, starting with the permit only increase all the way up to the $1.25 across the board with variations in between. In addition, because now he had September 30th data, he went back and looked at the revenue streams for that, as well. There was a slight decrease in revenue from the summer parking, so July and August was down slightly compared to the average for the rest of the year. He bumped up expenses to include the leasing of the kiosks, and the new debt as a result of the garage, and six months of operating costs for the new garage starting in July 1, 2020.
They would at least have to have $1.25 on street parking only, which would anticipate a 9% increase in kiosk revenue for 2020 and a 17% increase in kiosk revenue for 2021. Mr. Rooney stated that looking at the analysis under both scenarios, you will see that the anticipated increase in kiosk revenue, shows that on September 30, you would need to generate sufficient revenue to meet Walker’s expectations. That is his suggestion for a minimum increase. He added that he would sleep better if they did $1.25 on street and $1.00 off street, which would generate more revenue but also push the parkers into the lots which would generate more parking on the streets. That would anticipate a 6% increase in revenue in the kiosk and 13% for 2021, to generate the revenue stream that Walker projected that the Village get to.
Councilman Voigt asked what would happen with the kiosks, and with the September 30th data he probably has several months for Broad Street, Cottage and Chestnut, and he wanted to understand the increase. Mr. Rooney stated that in the lots you have seen that go anywhere from 20% to 40%, and for the streets he can’t tell because all of the streets are combined into one number. With that being said, going back and looking at the kiosk, there was a slight decrease for the summer months. Councilman Voigt asked if Mr. Rooney could break that down a little more for him. Mr. Rooney stated that it was still an average of 20% - 22%. Councilman Voigt asked if that was for the lots. Mr. Rooney stated that was correct.
Councilwoman Walsh stated that she has become a Parkmobile user primarily and she rarely uses the kiosk, but whenever she goes into the parking lot she sees people lined up at the kiosk. It seems straightforward, but she still sees a line of people looking at it. She asked if there was any way that they could have more information for them. Mr. Rooney stated that they have a video on the website that people can use to better understand the process and by installing in the newer models, they are more user friendly and more like using your phone. From what he has been told by Sergeant Chuck, people are a lot happier with the way the kiosks are working now. Councilwoman Walsh stated that was her only concern if it is going to go primarily to kiosk, they need to know how to use it. Mr. Rooney added that it eliminates the access to cash, which is extremely important going forward.
Councilwoman Knudsen stated that she has put coins into the kiosk before. Mr. Rooney stated that they are secure once they go into the container and when they are removed from the container, there is no access to the locks. Only the armored service has access. Mayor Hache stated that didn’t coincide with her high-tech paperless profile. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that she liked all coins and didn’t mind the quarters, which she puts in the kiosks.
Councilwoman Knudsen stated that she wanted to go back to Councilman Voigt’s question about the drop off in summer, and if that drop off was consistent with past summers and wasn’t a drop off in the actual anticipated revenue. Mr. Rooney stated it was consistent with the prior year’s dip in revenue. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that she disagreed with the idea that $1.00 in the parking lot would drive somebody to park in the parking lot, as people will drive around the block just to get in front of the store and she felt they should go to $1.25 across the board. Mr. Rooney stated that he would definitely sleep better then. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that she didn’t see a reason to not and she didn’t think that quarter was a motivator. Then it becomes supply and demand. She added that the parking lots are actually closer to certain locations that are very popular, so that is the other piece of it.
Councilman Sedon stated that he didn’t know if the quarter difference would impact the average parker, but maybe it would impact the employees and long term parkers who are planting themselves in front of their store and that quarter an hour isn’t that big of a deal but if you are there everyday that might be the motivator to get people into the lots. It might not make a difference to the average parker. He asked if they might be able to go back and revisit the rates if they saw in May or June there was going to be a shortfall and then raise everything across the board and be able to still make it. Mr. Rooney stated that they could definitely do that, but in his mind he thinks they may want to do this once and not go back and do it a second time. If they wanted to come up to the least painful or do what Walker recommended and take it across the board and be done with it, he supported that.
Councilwoman Knudsen stated that they have tweaked these amounts, have offered discounted parking rates in the parking lot, and still the same people are parking in front of their doors. Interestingly, you should do it in one shot because otherwise it looks like there’s multiple increases and that might be confusing, but also reflect in a way that they haven’t anticipated.
Mayor Hache asked how quickly the new kiosks would be rolled out, and what was the earliest that they could be ready to go. Mr. Rooney stated that his game plan is to have them by November or December. Mayor Hache stated that was already this year, and added that he happened to agree that a 25 cent differential is not incentive enough. He recalls that they were offering the lower prices at Cottage Place, and the employee at a restaurant he enjoys didn’t see that as enough of a motivator at that time to get him into the lot. His only concern is that he thinks that the 50 cent increase is enough of a de-motivator for some of the folks that are coming into the downtown already, because that is one of the challenges that the businesses have felt that impact.
Mr. Rooney stated that one thing that Walker said in their report, is that they did an allowance for that wave of people who said they weren’t paying that increase, and then after two or three months it levelled off and then people were coming back. Mayor Hache stated that he thinks Walker looked at many years of data and there is a new paradigm shift happening downtown and talking about experiential shopping. The experience isn’t only what brings you downtown, but also the negative parts of the experience. If they can get a good shot of the increase of the kiosks, and what that looks like and where the trend is going from the beginning of the year and going forward. There is always seasonality, and how that trend goes and adjusting it up if necessary.
Councilwoman Knudsen stated that they have no choice right now but to increase this to $1.25. Every business knew this going in, and everybody understood and she think so many times they sat here and said to the Chamber representatives and people who came to the microphone, and they said don’t come after the fact and tell us that this doesn’t work any more or that they can’t increase it because somebody has to pay for this garage. They aren’t going to be adding this to everybody’s tax burden, and they all knew this going in. She added that she was called to meetings downtown, and they talked about the increases and she was still told to build the garage, and this is exactly what they said don’t come back to us and tell us that this doesn’t work. She added that they don’t have a choice.
Mayor Hache stated that the suggestion isn’t that they don’t increase, they do have to increase, but the numbers do still work at $1.00, but there is a better cushion with $1.25. It’s not the point that they don’t want to increase, everybody is ready for that, but a 50 cent increase on top of the 25 already in place and everybody adjusting to that, he would rather do separate increases and spreading it out than doing these chunky increases all at once. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that she was in favor of doing it, getting it done, dealing with it, and moving forward. She is entirely not comfortable with increasing to the $1.00. There is going to be a drop off and to $1.25 is going to be a drop off, but the increase to the $1.00 might be the breaking point that hurts the Village, while the increase to the $1.25 and the drop off there may still leave a cushion so they don’t take the hit.
Ms. Mailander asked if Walker said that the next increase wasn’t predicted until 2022. Mr. Rooney stated that it wasn’t until 2025. Ms. Mailander stated that she didn’t think that was right, but it was a couple years before the next increase. Mr. Rooney stated that it was at least two. Ms. Mailander stated that she was concerned that if they increase it to $1.00 and then July 1st they go to $1.25 people are going to say wait a minute, you just increased it in January. They are going to get the complaints, and she thinks that if you increase it whatever it is you decide they have to be comfortable that it is going to last for the year because it is going to be tough to increase it again before the end of next year. Just because they are going to get the kiosks in doesn’t mean they are going to be up and running before the end of the year. Mr. Rooney stated that part of the issue is getting the concrete bases in. Ms. Mailander added that having the time for Signal to install them, and they all may not be in until mid-January, but it will take time to install them and remove the meter heads.
Councilwoman Knudsen stated that the best outcome is that they keep everything at 50 cents but that’s not just reality, this is the funding for the garage and it’s the reality and what they signed on for. Mr. Rooney stated that he just thinks $1.00 is too low, so if they did anything he would recommend $1.25 on street, but to Councilwoman Knudsen’s point this is a commitment that they all made when they decided to move forward with the garage. They had Walker, who are the professionals, make the determination as to what those increases should be, and they are working towards it. There is no guarantee that the kiosks are going to maintain at 20 to 40%. Yes, they have done better, but he likes concrete numbers and he thinks that $1.25 is the minimum that he would go to.
Councilman Voigt asked about Mr. Rooney’s projections for September 30th with $1.25 on street parking, and did that assume that they would have 75 cents off street parking. Mr. Rooney stated that was correct. Councilman Voigt stated that it looks like the numbers there are within a comfort level with a 22% increase in the kiosks they could meet those numbers with 75 cents in the lots and on street at $1.25 and that was enough of a differential for people to think they’d rather park in a lot. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that if they have any point where there is any drop off, they are going to have a problem and she feels more comfortable having a cushion than less than a cushion. She stated this was what they signed on for, they knew it, and they have to keep moving forward with this. If you were willing to vote to bond the garage, that is the benefit and this is the burden that they have assumed in doing so. She feels that it is irresponsible to do anything else.
Councilman Sedon stated that he would maybe be more in favor of $1.25 on the streets and then $1.00 in the lots with going back to revisit it early next year to see if they need to do the final increase. He added that it’s a balance, and businesses are struggling and there are all sorts of taxes and fees, and it’s just another thing. He understands they have to fund the garage but you are giving a hit to the business community if you overfund it. He would be in favor of increasing the rates, but if you could get away with a slightly smaller increase it might be more beneficial to everybody. Mr. Rooney added that when people use Parkmobile, they are already adding 40 cents to the transaction so they are already up there. If they are going to use the kiosk they would only pay another dime more than if they use Parkmobile.
Councilwoman Knudsen stated that was exactly right, as they were paying that extra money when they were paying 75 cents and 50 cents, it was 85 cents for that spot, and going there for 15 minutes they are paying for the spot plus the 35 cent convenience fee. She added that this is a misplaced belief that there is going to be a concern over the 25 cents in the lot. If they are willing to say $1.25 on the street hey have to be willing to say $1.25 in the lot. There will be a drop off, but they made a commitment to this.
Councilman Voigt asked if they wanted to vote on this. Ms. Mailander stated that they can’t vote, but she did need a consensus so they know what they are doing for the ordinance. Councilman Voigt stated that he was in favor of 75 cents off street and $1.25 on street, adding that he was comfortable with that. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that this was so irresponsible. Councilman Voigt stated that he disagreed with her, as when they look at the revenues from the kiosk they are within a comfort level that is met within the first year and likely met within the second year, and it also motivates people to park in the lots.
Councilwoman Knudsen asked if Mr. Rooney was comfortable with that. Mr. Rooney stated that truthfully, he wasn’t. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that we have our CFO sitting here. Councilman Voigt stated that Mr. Rooney doesn’t know, he doesn’t know what is going to happen two years from now, he has no idea. Councilwoman Knudsen asked if Councilman Voigt did. Councilman Voigt stated that based on what he is giving us here, he was entirely comfortable with that, and he didn’t want to get in an argument about it but that was his opinion. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that the problem with this is that if his crystal ball is at all cloudy, they are stuck and somebody then has to pay for the deficit. She added that it was irresponsible and was a commitment that was made by this Village Council when they voted, and now he doesn’t want to accept that responsibility and commitment and fund the garage.
Councilwoman Knudsen stated that she was fine with $1.25 across the board, adding that she wasn’t necessarily thrilled to have to pay it, but she will and that is a commitment that the Village Council made. Councilman Voigt stated that he and Councilwoman Knudsen have different points of views. Councilman Sedon stated that he was in favor of $1.25 on the street and $1.00 in the lots, at least. Mayor Hache stated that he was in favor of $1.25 on the street. Councilwoman Walsh stated that she was going to agree with Councilman Sedon. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that she would do that, but if there is any deficit here they were just told that if they raise it now it looks like you have increased things twice and its not going to make a difference. If she was going to go to Chestnut Deli and she winds up in the lot, it is just as convenient as the street is. If she wants to do to Walgreens, it doesn’t matter if she parks on the street or the Cottage Place lot, its just a quarter and it is not a motivator. If that is what three of them decide, she thinks that the lower rate is absolutely irresponsible, and she thinks it should be $1.25 across the board.
Councilwoman Walsh stated that she understands Councilwoman Knudsen’s passion here, adding that she doesn’t think its shirking anyone’s responsibility, and she uses Parkmobile and she thinks there is balance in that they are going to be getting paid for time that people aren’t using and that has value to it. They aren’t really sure; they may be getting $2 for the one hour because someone only stayed 30 minutes and she thinks there is going to be that balance. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that was fair. Councilwoman Walsh added that the kiosks have increased the revenue. Mr. Rooney stated that you want to err on the high side, because if the parking has a deficit it has the be paid for. Councilwoman Walsh stated that it was $10 a week for somebody who is working in the CBD. Councilman Sedon stated that he wasn’t saying to be just done with it, but to look again and see if they needed to go to $1.25 across the board. He was just thinking of a more balanced approach.
Councilwoman Knudsen stated that she wanted to conjure a scenario, and hypothetically the effort to make the parking lots available for $1.00 results in a drop off but a shift to those lots, and far more street spots available. What just happened to the quarter differential. Mr. Rooney stated that revenue went down. Councilwoman Walsh stated that you could say there are more street spots available and more patrons can come in. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that the drop off that they know is going to happen takes place, and what she is saying is that hypothetically because now they decided that there is a greater value to these and there is a shift and a drop off, and what percentage of the cars have to fill into those lots to create a scenario that quarter differential now becomes significant. She doesn’t think it would take much. Mr. Rooney stated that he didn’t know, but there would definitely be an impact.
Ms. Mailander stated that she didn’t hear from Mayor Hache. Mayor Hache stated that they do have the benefit of being able to track these things and they aren’t etching things into stone. A six month lookback gives enough evidence to see what the trend is, and its not about anybody being unwilling to see the reality. If they can go forward with an increase that at least in 2020 can cover us, they can still make the adjustment up going into 2021. There is always going to be a complaint. He gave the example of the mosquito spraying, with a flood of emails complaining and then a flood of emails asking why they weren’t getting sprayed. Ms. Mailander asked what Mayor Hache was saying about the parking. Mayor Hache stated that what he was originally saying was $1.00 across the board, and then when they started getting into the different combinations it was suggested $1.25 on the street and $1.00 in the lots. He added that he wasn’t sure if that differential was enough, but if they are going to say that Walker knows more about parking, that differential in parking may drive behavior. Mr. Rooney stated that he hasn’t seen it. Mayor Hache stated that it happened when it was 75 cents versus 25 cents. Mr. Rooney stated that to that point, Walker recommended $1.25 across the board.
Ms. Mailander asked if Mayor Hache was saying $1.25 on the street and $1.00 in the lot. Mayor Hache stated that no, he was saying $1.00, but the consensus view seems to be $1.25 on the street and $1.00 in the lot. Ms. Mailander stated that if he was willing to go to that at least they would have a majority. Councilman Voigt stated that he was still in favor of 75 cents in the lot and $1.25 on the street, as he felt that at least the first year they were fine. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that since they have to resolve this, to Councilwoman Walsh’s comment she knows that she was a big proponent of the kiosk because they knew at the time they were going to have that increase. She firmly believes that it is the most responsible thing to do the $1.25, but to get this resolved at this moment she was willing to agree with Councilman Sedon. That would be a three consensus. Councilman Sedon stated that they can put in a caveat that they will do a lookback in May, and they can see the five months of data to get a better idea. Ms. Mailander stated that before that time they are going to have to decide what they are doing about the garage.
Mayor Hache stated that they could always go the other way and do $1.25 across the board, and in six months if the projections are much higher than where they thought they would be, they could lower by a quarter. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that she was good with that. Councilman Sedon stated that the precedent is there because a previous Council had done the same thing. He added that he was good with that. Mr. Rooney stated $1.25 across the board. Councilman Sedon stated that if that was the consensus. Mayor Hache said there would be a six month lookback. Councilwoman Knudsen asked Councilwoman Walsh if she was okay with that. Councilwoman Walsh stated that she wasn’t, but they had a consensus. Mayor Hache said $1.25 on the street and $1.00 in the lots with a five month lookback. Ms. Mailander stated that they were driving her crazy.
Councilwoman Knudsen stated that so they were clear they were at $1.25 across the board with a six month lookback. Mr. Rooney stated that they could do a lookback in July with six months of transactions, assuming all the kiosk are in place January 1st. They need six months of operation with the kiosks, which he thinks is fair. Ms. Mailander stated that was how they would write the ordinance, with that understanding.
1. Award Contract – State Co-Op Purchasing – Continuous Automatic Samplers – Water Pollution Control
Ms. Mailander stated that this is for continuous samplers for collecting wastewater samples for laboratory analysis at our Water Pollution Control Facility. The current units are inoperable. They solicited quotes and the low quote is under NJ State Contract and is $19,080.05 to Hach of Loveland, Colorado.
2. Award Contract – Vehicle Roadway Barriers – Police Department
Ms. Mailander stated that in today’s world, many times there have been vehicles that have gone into crowds and these barriers would help to stop that. They would be 66 barriers and they could close six intersections with them. They can be configured in various ways because they are an interlocking system. They can allow vehicles to pass through the intersection or can be locked together. They will be housed in an enclosed trailer and most of the vehicles in Ridgewood would be able to pull it. It is $39,976 which includes the 66 mega barrier units, the connection pieces, the two setups that will allow a break for emergency vehicle access, and the trailer. This is in the capital account and is to be awarded to Ram Catch Inc, of Arlington, Texas.
Councilwoman Walsh stated that they are saying they are metal barriers, and she asked if they were filled with anything. Ms. Mailander stated she didn’t believe they were. Councilwoman Walsh asked if they were filled with anything. Ms. Mailander stated that she could find out. Councilwoman Knudsen added that she was thinking the same thing, because they have those big orange things filled with water, and she guesses these are different. Ms. Mailander stated that these were all weather, and added that she would get a weight and a picture so they could see what it looks like.
3. Award Contract – Grant Writing Services
Ms. Mailander stated that the Millennium Strategies contract is up at the end of the month. They have had two years with them, and as a reminder Ridgewood is unique in that they do apply with the employees for NJDOT paving grants, Community Development Block Grants, Open Space Grants, Historic Preservation Grants, and Police Department Campaign grants. In most other municipalities Millennium works for, they apply for those grants. They charge $3,000 a month and last year she negotiated it down to $2,500 a month and this year she negotiated again to $2.500 a month. They were willing to hold their price with an option for a one-year renewal. She added that Millennium Strategies has allowed the Village to become aware of new grant opportunities that they may not have known about, many of which are funded through corporations or non-profits.
In addition, many of the larger grants they have applied for with Millennium Strategies could not have been done in-house, due to lack of expertise or lack of staffing. She recommended that they award the first year of a new professional services contract to Millennium Strategies which has been helpful in obtaining grants for the Vilage. The grants have been equal to $26,500 and the pending funding with eight grants pending and if they get them it would be $733,317 and there is one very big grant for $487,000. She listed the grants that were filed in September or October that they were waiting to hear about. Ms. Mailander recommended continuing again as they don’t have the staffing or expertise to file the grants or do the research for these grants.
Councilman Voigt stated that this year they paid them $30,000 but got back $26,500, and asked if there was any way they could wait on these grants as it seems like they are losing money to get money. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that $20,000 of the $26,500 went to a private business Healthbarn, so the Village spent $30,000 and got back $26,500 but $20,000 of that went to Healthbarn which is a private business. Ms. Mailander stated it actually went to Recreation, who applied, but Healthbarn ran the programming. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that the grant money ultimately went to Healthbarn. Ms. Mailander stated that it was benefiting Ridgewood people who attended the program. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that the business got the money, and she appreciates that it was an inclusive after school program, but she needed to point that out.
Councilman Voigt asked if they could wait on this. Ms. Mailander stated that they would continue to apply for the ones that they normally do, and not really many others. If they had to hire someone part time in the Village to be a grant writer, they would be paying more than that, and Millennium Strategies does constant research and gives possibilities of grants throughout the month. She added that she thinks it has been very worthwhile, but she understands what they are saying.
Mayor Hache asked how much of the low batting average that they are having with these grants are due to grant worthiness or lack thereof. He added that they don’t seem to get enough back to justify the expense. Ms. Mailander stated that a lot of them are nationwide grants and some as based on whether that municipality can afford it. Unfortunately, they have applied twice for the COPS grant with the Board of Education, and they have very worthy applications but it is a nationwide grant and perhaps they look at it and say Ridgewood could afford something like that. However, she does think that they have benefited and been able to offer programs they may not have been able to offer in the past. She added that she would check to see if any of the grants that are pending have been awarded.
Councilwoman Knudsen stated that the NJDOT Safe Streets Grant was one that the Village was doing all along. Ms. Mailander stated that they didn’t, it was done through the grant writer for the past three years as it’s the Safe Streets to Transit. Councilwoman Knudsen asked about all of the grants that were listed, the Village had never done any of those grants. Ms. Mailander stated that was correct. She listed the grants that the Village is always successful on, and added that they would continue to do those, but she feels that they didn’t know about the other options and even if they did, they may not have the expertise to be able to complete it. Mayor Hache suggested that they were looking at it like an insurance policy. Ms. Mailander stated that there have been towns with the same demographics that have been awarded very high grants. She added that it matters who is applying and what the applications are. This is their business and they put forth a very good application, and she doesn’t know how thorough the Village applications would be if they did it in-house. Councilwoman Knudsen asked about the Drunk Driving Enforcement grant and if that was done by the Village. Ms. Mailander stated that they always do that, but that grant was under Other Grants – Recommended. They discussed additional grants that the Village wouldn’t have known about without Millennium Strategies. Ms. Mailander added that she thinks it is worthwhile.
Councilwoman Knudsen stated that the ones that are outstanding, there are many that say they would know already. Ms. Mailander stated she would find out. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that there were four with the date that passed, and those were big amounts of money. Mayor Hache stated that he appreciated that they were willing to take that reduction. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that they did that reduction last year. Ms. Mailander stated that they were willing to hold it at that. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that they would have to see about those September grants. Ms. Mailander stated she would find out and then they could bring it back for a decision.
4. Declare Surplus – Multiple Vehicles – Signal and Streets Department
Ms. Mailander stated that the Signal Division vehicle is rusted through and is the main reason to declare it surplus. The Streets Division vehicle has a long list of issues, including parts no longer being made, the leach body runs for a few minutes and then shuts down, seals are dry rotted, the handle on the back has snapped off, and the lights are no longer functional. The truck itself no longer properly functions, there is an issue with the charging system, and the dashboard is cracked and falling apart. They will be declared surplus because they are not road worthy anymore.
1. Revise Parking Ordinance
Ms. Mailander stated that Officer Tarino has been working with representatives of the Hawes School to improve the safety of children going to the school. The proposed ordinance seeks to provide an enforcement mechanism to clear some of the traffic bottlenecks that are occurring during the morning inflow and afternoon outflow of children. There is also concern that the congestion currently being observed could constrain emergency response during those times due to blocked streets. This would prohibit parking 8:00 A.M. to 9:30 A.M and 2:30 P.M. to 3:30 P.M. Monday through Friday, September to June on South Pleasant Avenue East, South Pleasant Avenue West, and Stevens Avenue West. This should free up those bottlenecks because there won’t be parking on the streets.
Councilwoman Knudsen stated that this caught her attention because a number of years ago when they were addressing the same issue on Corella, she remembers them coming here and saying that the teachers were parking in the morning and when the parking hours were changed, the spillage went to them and they wound up with the teachers parking there. Her question then is if the cars that are parked there during the day, if they are there in the morning, it is a good chance that there are teachers parked there. She asked if the teachers that were parking on the streets were going to shift to other streets now. Ms. Mailander stated that she would contact the Principal and find out where the teachers park, and they can go from there. Councilwoman Knudsen suggested having the police go and monitor there and see if the same cars are parked there in the morning and the afternoon that would give the answer. Ms. Mailander stated that they would take a look.
2. Restrictions on Vaping and Related Illnesses
Ms. Mailander stated that there has been one case of a Ridgewood resident who was and has since recovered from vaping. There are 38 cases under investigation in Bergen County. Everyday there are more people who are dying from vaping related issues. Currently they restrict the sale of vape electronic cigarettes to those under 21, and charge a $1,200 annual fee to sell those products. Some towns, such as Washington Township, have prohibited vaping devices, products, or paraphernalia in any store. New York State has prohibited the flavored ones. She didn’t know how they wanted to proceed, but Dawn Cetrulo, Health Director, is concerned about this.
Mayor Hache stated that initially they were concerned about the flavored ones, but now there have been reports about the ones that are not flavored. He doesn’t see any good reason to keep these things anywhere near young users or older ones. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that they were never federally approved, and if they have never been approved how are they even being sold. Mr. Rogers stated that it is like other products that come out that never had to comply to FDA regulations, he added that the impact of this are detrimental to everyone’s health but particularly to children. He stated that right now there are a few stores grandfathered that have sold it, but they restrict the sale of cigarettes and there is only one place in town where it is a permitted use on the western side of Route 17 South. Mr. Rogers stated that if they take the approach that it isn’t permitted in town they may run into a constitutional issue. He suggested asking Ms. Cetrulo which stores are grandfathered right now and see what they are up against to see just how far they will be able to go. The New Jersey Smoke Free Air Act says that you can go further than what the State law does, but that usually isn’t the case.
Councilman Voigt asked if they could find out what the sales are in this area. Mr. Rogers stated that he didn’t know how they would find out what the sales are. Councilman Voigt stated that they must have records. Mr. Rogers pointed out that they were private companies and he didn’t know how they would find that out. Mayor Hache asked if there was any better protection if it is a mortarium on the sales as opposed to an outright ban. Right now the FDA hasn’t set any standards but the Federal Government is looking at it. Mr. Rogers stated that they could take a shot at regulating and precluding the sale of flavored ones, but there is additional data now with regard to just the non-flavored ones. Until that comes through, he would have to check into a moratorium but they may run afoul of constitutional issues.
Councilwoman Knudsen asked how it was okay to ban plastic bags, as she thought that was against commerce laws. If they can ban plastic bags, how can they not ban the other. Ms. Rogers stated that he thinks they are different issues because they are banning the use of them but not necessarily the sale of them. This is a saleable product that people already have in commerce and he thinks the restriction has to be under health and safety. He can check if they can go as far to have a moratorium, but he certainly thinks they can do something about the flavored ones. Councilwoman Knudsen asked if Stop and Shop was selling the bags for a penny a piece, would the suggestion be that they can’t ban them. Mr. Rogers stated that if they started to sell them, then it would be against the ordinance. Ms. Mailander stated that it does say that a place can charge for plastic bags if they wish to do so. Mr. Rogers clarified that it was paper bags.
Councilwoman Knudsen stated that she didn’t process how one was okay to be banned because that’s still a business. Mr. Rogers stated that they were banning the use, not the sale of the plastic bags. They want to ban the sale of these cigarettes which is different than just the use. There is a different approach from a constitutional standpoint. Mayor Hache added that they should look into the flavored ones. Mr. Rogers stated that he could report back at the next Work Session with information about that and how far they can go. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that she would be in favor of banning. Councilman Sedon stated that the stores that are using the plastic bags aren’t selling them. Mr. Rogers stated that they aren’t making a profit from the distribution of it.
Councilwoman Walsh stated that she was in a conference in Manhattan two weeks ago. She drove in early and she saw people walking by and everyone had e-cigarettes. Mr. Rogers stated it was still legalized. Councilwoman Walsh asked how this proposed ordinance was any different than smoking cigarettes. Mr. Rogers stated that he thinks Washington Township would probably run into a problem if someone wanted to challenge it. He added that he would look into how you could go that far, but based upon health and safety they do have the ability to restrict it. Councilwoman Knudsen asked if Mr. Rogers was talking about the Starbucks strip mall. Mr. Rogers stated that was the only place it wasn’t restricted.
3. Amend Zoning Ordinances – OB-1 and OB-2 – Rt. 17
Ms. Mailander stated that the B-1 zone was expanded to include instructional schools. They have a request to include instructional schools to be a permitted use in the OB-1 and OB-2 Office Building Zones. They permit general office use and childcare centers, but instructional schools are certainly more prevalent nowadays than offices. By expanding the permitted uses, it will allow landlords to convert vacant spaces into rental spaces. Councilwoman Knudsen asked about the location. Ms. Mailander stated that was Route 17. Mayor Hache stated that when they looked at the zoning for B-1 and B-2, they assumed it was one commercial part in town in terms of the use for instructional schools. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that she thought years ago they changed one piece. She asked Mr. Rogers what the difference was in OB-1 and OB-2. Mr. Rogers stated that off the top of his head he didn’t know but he could get back to her. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that she was okay with it, but she wanted to understand the difference between them.
Ms. Mailander asked if they were in favor of it if they knew the difference in OB-1 and OB-2. Mr. Rogers added that it should be dealt with by the Planning Board for consideration. Ms. Mailander asked if the Village Council wanted her to send it to them. There was agreement from the Village Council.
4. Discuss Resident Tree Planting
Councilman Sedon stated that this was an idea that came out of the Tree Nursery meeting. He stated that some people have whips in their yard that grow from seed pods, and the thought was that it wouldn’t be a year long project, but it would be collecting the whips that people may want to donate and it would be a volunteer effort. There is a state-certified arborist who has joined the committee and he was at the last meeting. To identify the whips and what kind they are would be pretty easy. Then, there would be a one-day collection and then a one-day planting. People could do this on their own, and they are looking for permission to plant in the planting strip in their neighborhoods. You would have to call for a mark-out, which is free. He brought up the issue of protection, and it was determined unsightly to put chicken wire around them. They would make sure that there were no wires overhead and then they would plant these whips in the planting strip. Councilman Sedon stated that the deer may eat them, landscapers may run over them, and he isn’t sure what the survival rate would be but it was an idea that was posed to him and he didn’t see much a difference between residents doing that or the Ridgewood Conservancy for Public Lands planting tulips on Village property.
Mr. Rogers stated that there are liability issues, as a recent Supreme Court case holds the municipality responsible for residential sidewalks. Even though the tort claims act requires notice of the sidewalk slab being raised, it doesn’t really become a dangerous condition until it reaches about a 1.5 inch differential between the sidewalk slabs. The Village is held responsible if there is any indication if there is a tree nearby where a root could have raised it. If the strip between the sidewalk and the curb, then they need to have consideration for what they may be dealing with.
Councilwoman Knudsen stated that it looks like the street trees on her side of the street were set into the yards on the sidewalk, and she feels like maybe there is a different option to start to pushing those shade trees into the yards. Mr. Rogers stated that was looked at a few years back where there was consideration to approach residential property owners to see if they wanted trees that come up to where the street right of way ends. Normally, the town owns the right of way that goes up to the sidewalk. He added that he thinks that was tried. Mayor Hache asked if the sidewalk was added after the fact. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that she didn’t know, but many of the trees have died and have been removed, but she realized that the street trees were placed inside rather than on the strip.
Councilman Sedon stated that it can be done on private property and the question was that people wanted to plant in the strip and he wasn’t sure how or if that would work. Mr. Rogers stated that if the strip is that area in the right of way and the Village is involved in that process, then yes, the Village does have some liability. Ms. Mailander stated that she talked to Mr. Rutishauser and he stated that they would probably need some kind of insurance, and that he was concerned with it being done by residents. Councilman Sedon stated that he would question the survival rate, but he didn’t know if there was a way to do that.
Mayor Hache stated that there is so much focus on trees that he can see people wanting trees on their private property. He is assuming there is a way that you could put something around what was planted in your yard to say that a landscaper would know to mow around that. Councilman Sedon stated that it would probably be easier if people did it inside the sidewalk. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that she was in favor of doing something to organize a tree planting and suggested that if people wanted to organize something where they were actually just planting in yards, maybe they could facilitate that by using Village space by recycling but then people plant them in their yards. Councilman Sedon stated that it would be one day collection and then sorting, and then another day going back out and planting. He added that he didn’t know what the response rate would be. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that it could be organized on social media.
e. Operations - None
9. COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC
Saurabh Dani, 390 Bedford Road, stated that he could not attend the meeting when the trees were discussed because there was a Board of Education meeting and he was attending that, but there is a huge price differential if they have to get the Village to put a tree in anybody’s yard, but it doesn’t have to be a small sapling. The idea was that the labor part can be done by the volunteers and they can still buy the trees and then they can do the labor and install the tree. They need guidance as to what types of trees can be planted and where they can be planted. If the Village does the marking of approved locations, then they can do a volunteer effort to get the trees and funding and plant them. He stated that $350 from the Village, and $50 for a tree are very different.
Mr. Dani stated that with regard to the garage price, when they were discussing the Walker Report he remembers one of the coffee meetings 3.5 years ago and one of the candidates at that time talked about the taxable and once they build the garage the taxable will go up. He is hoping that the taxes will increase in the surrounding area of Hudson Street garage because that was one of the big points from the then Chamber president. There were candidates here who were for that idea that the tax rates will increase. He is hoping that at least the surrounding area of the garage, the tax will increase for them.
Mr. Dani stated that regarding the library, when he met with the Trustees and looked at the community feedback, he had not heard the Community Center idea. For the auditorium, he thinks there should be some sort of shared calendaring because if the library has two events going on, there are ten schools who have auditoriums, gyms, classrooms, and the Community Center, and the events could happen at any of those locations.
There were no additional comments from the public, and Mayor Hache closed public comment.
Mayor Hache stated that regarding the assessments, when they look at what has been done in other municipalities that has worked well, considering they have the premier downtown the commercial property hasn’t gone over 9% of the total. Looking at Ridgewood and Morristown, in 1985, both were facing the same parking deficit. Morristown started building parking infrastructure and the price for commercial rents were about the same, at that time. Since then, the assessments there have almost doubled compared to Ridgewood. In a way, they are building something that is being financed through a parking utility but the ultimate benefiter is the taxpayer and is the only way that you can look at true property tax relief in the near future.
10. RESOLUTION TO GO INTO CLOSED SESSION
Deputy Village Clerk Donna Jackson read Resolution #19-357 to go into Closed Session as follows:
There being no further business to come before the Village Council, on a motion by Councilwoman Walsh, seconded by Councilman Sedon, and carried unanimously by voice vote, the Village Council’s Work Session was adjourned at 11:15 P.M.
Ramon M. Hache, Sr.
Donna M. Jackson
Deputy Village Clerk
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