20200709 - CBDAC Minutes

Central Business District Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes

July 9, 2020

 

In attendance: Councilwoman Pamela Perron, Jordan Kaufman, Bill Gilsenan, Kathryn Schmidt, Michael Pickholz, Chief Jacqueline Luthcke, Philip Davis, Michael Velicu, Gary Kolesaire.

 

Members of the public attending: Paul Vagianos

 

Not attending: Max Viola, MJ Shinozuka, Chris Rutishauser

 

The minutes from the June 25, 2020 meeting were accepted.

 

Councilwoman Perron gave an update on the curbside pickup discussion at the July 8 Village Council meeting. Kathryn Schmidt presented the CBDAC’s position statement and the Chamber also made comments in support of continuing the process.

The proposed “Grab & Go” ordinance is being amended to include only full day underwriting., a concern to the CBDAC since many interested businesses do not need/want full day spots, and the cost is high. The council also seemed to lean towards not listing the businesses that would be underwriting on the signage designating the spots, and the CBDAC feels that is a missed opportunity. The Village Manager made it clear that there would not be a significant number of such reserved spots allotted.

 

The curbside sub-committee of the CBDAC will meet to decide next steps to make further suggestions to the council. CBDAC members are asked to submit their ideas and reactions to each other via email.

 

Pedestrian Mall: The mall concept is working as best as it can. CBDAC members are asked to submit ideas, comments to Paul Vagianos, or Jacqueline Luthcke who both participate in weekly Chamber meetings on how to best implement the Mall. Michael Velicu noted that it is important to remain flexible when introducing new ideas like this and be willing to adjust if needed. He cited examples in the past of good ideas with less than perfect implementation, such as village-wide valet parking, that could have been tweaked to make them even more workable.

 

Cardboard Pick-up: Businesses generate a significant amount of cardboard waste. In the early days of the pandemic the village suspended cardboard pick-up from businesses due to reduced staffing, though the recycling center will accept cardboard if merchants deliver it themselves. As businesses reopen, this is becoming an issue in the CBD since businesses are also operating with reduced staff and more cardboard is piling up that a car can regularly deliver. As a result, cardboard is piling up making the CB D unsightly and increasing concerns about vermin.

 

Councilwoman Perron and Chief Luthcke will discuss this further with the Village Manager and report back, the CBDAC may decide on next steps to recommend.

 

The current Bylaws have been sent to each CBDAC member from Jordan Kaufman for review and comment. We will discuss recommendations at the next meeting especially focusing on our mission and goals. Once we confirm that we can rereview whether there are any skills and knowledge gaps in our members and recruit accordingly. Immediate gaps might be in marketing and web-site design. This will be the focus of discussion at our next meeting.

 

Councilwoman Perron is leading the membership decisions. Current members are asked to recommend others for the Committee, either on a permanent or ad hoc basis, particularly those with skills we might need for specific projects, for example, the website.

 

Marketing the CBD: Bill Gilsenan noted that the opening of the multifamily housing units, planned for October, present a significant opportunity to market the village both to prospective tenants and then to the new residents who move in. Both an on-line and physical “Welcome Package” could be created in concert with The Guild and the Chamber. Bill indicated that the developers are open to working with us on distributing these items.

 

Website: There was discussion as to whether we could create and manage the website through an independent philanthropic organization in support of the town in order to drive completion more quickly.

 

Pedestrian Mall Ambassadors Needed: Pam mentioned that Jeanne Johnson is in need of ambassadors to direct foot traffic and assist visitors to the downtown pedestrian mall.

 

CBDAC Meetings: The CBDAC will continue to meet on a bi-weekly basis.  In general people felt that the sub-committee process ,where a small group works on a topic off-line and then brings back recommendations to the CBDAC worked as it allows more topics to be covered and detailed and moves the process faster.

 

It was recommended that we bring in outside guests and speakers as appropriate. Leaders of local BIDs (Hackensack, Westfield) as well as members of other towns who implement Pedestrian Malls, were suggested.

 

Follow-up items include:

  • Cardboard research and recommendations
  • Bylaw, mission, and goal review and recommendations for next meeting
  • Recommended names for CBDAC nomination
  • Pedestrian Mall questions or suggestions with Chief Luthcke and Paul Vagianos
  • Guest speakers
  • Web-site next steps
  • Curbside Committee to reconvene. CBDAC members send curbside ideas via email

 

The next CBDAC meeting is on July 23, 2020.

Respectfully submitted, Kathryn Schmidt

July 10,2020

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20200723 - CBDAC Minutes

Central Business District Advisory Committee

Minutes

July 23, 2020

 

In attendance: Councilwoman Pamela Perron, Chief Jacqueline Luthcke, Jordan Kaufman,  Michael Velicu, Bill Gilsenan, Philip Davis, Max Viola, Michael Pickholz, Kathryn Schmidt, Gary Kolesaire

 

Guests: Jeanne Johnson, Paul Vagianos

 

Not attending: Chris Rutishauser, MJ Shinozuka

 

The minutes of the July 9 meeting were accepted.

 

Comments from the Public

Jeanne Johnson gave an update on Welcome Back Ridgewood. The pedestrian mall has been successful in attracting both residents and out-of-town visitors  to Ridgewood. It is being advertised through a number of community Facebook pages.   Nevertheless, there are some retailers who do not  feel that the pedestrian mall works for them.  People are not coming into stores because of virus concerns.  Jeanne will connect with Joan Groom at the Chamber of Commerce to hear the retailers’ concerns.   Jeanne also stressed the importance of every business having  robust social media to promote itself. 

 

Recommendations have been suggested to help retailers attract foot traffic including outdoor product displays, sandwich boards, balloons, music, etc.  Welcome Back Ridgewood can help retailers market their products by tapping into the talents of high school and college students for graphics. Retailers can “adopt” the mall information booth for 2 – 6 hour periods to advertise and become more visible, or they can sponsor music in the park and receive advertising with little to no cash outlay.

 

Plans are underway for a fashion show, a raffle, and a take-off on Prairie Home Companion.  Prairie Home companies is scheduled for August 16, 23 and 30 and retailers can advertise and be recognized at no cost.   You can follow these events at welcomebackridgewood.com.

 

Update from Councilwoman Pamela Perron

Pamela discussed the process to get an item on the Village Council agenda.  Agenda items need to be suggested at least 2 Monday’s prior to a Village Council meeting (9 days in advance) to meet all the required timelines for communication to the public.  Proposed ordinances need to be discussed in a work session and then voted on in a subsequent public meeting.  At best this can take 20 days. If passed, ordinances then take 20 days to go into effect.  Resolutions can take significantly less time, but they do not have the power of  “law” behind them.  

 

The “Grab and Go” curbside ordinance was introduced on July 15th and will be put to a vote on August 5th.  If passed it will take 20 days to go into effect and can be amended after it is passed.  The CBDAC and public can start lobbying now in preparation for an August 25th implementation or wait to see how it works after it goes into effect.

 

Cardboard Recycling: Jordan provided background on cardboard recycling in the CBD.  While it had been picked up by the village for about  20 years as a part of recycling, since the pandemic this service has been discontinued.  As a result, businesses must dispose of their cardboard themselves by taking it to the Recycling Center or disposing of it in the trash.  This is difficult and inefficient for the business, as well as detrimental to the environment.

 

Reasons for this change include cutbacks in staff during the coronavirus lockdown, increase in residential trash and recyclables, and the significant increase in the cost of cardboard recycling, especially since some of the cardboard submitted is often “contaminated,” and driving down the price we receive from recyclers.  Nevertheless, the lack of pickup is an eyesore in the CBD and could potentially attract vermin to the area. 

 

After a general discussion the CBDAC agreed to advocate for a return to the pick-up.  A subgroup of the CBDAC, including Jordan and Bill Gilsenan, will be convened to scope out the problem and potential solutions. Members who wish to be part of the cardboard group should contact Jordan.

 

Structure and Bylaws of the CBDAC

Councilwoman Perron nominated Jordan Kaufman and Kathryn Schmidt as co-chairs of the CBDAC.  A motion was passed seconded and unanimously passed. Kathryn will continue her role as secretary and Bill Gilsenan will be the backup secretary as needed.

 

It was agreed that the current bylaws and mission statement of the CBDAC was broad enough to encompass much of what we want to accomplish.  It was also agreed to keep the size of the CBDAC as the bylaws currently prescribe. Michael Pickholz asked that we incorporate a budget into the bylaws to ensure there is funding for enhancements to the CBD.  Chief Luthcke asked that the bylaws be modified to allow for a representative of the RPD and Village Engineering to participate, not exclusively the Chief of Police and the Village Engineer.  After a general discussion it was agreed to convene a  subcommittee consisting of Councilwoman Perron, Philip Davis, Michael Pickholz, and Bill Gilsenan to review the bylaws and recommend any changes.  

 

Councilwoman Perron noted that the Village council’s budget process begins in February so budget requests need to be submitted early in the year.

 

The process of appointing new members to the CBDAC is a Council prerogative.  Councilwoman Perron will finalize the current roster.  Once vacancies are confirmed the Village Manager will advertise the openings so that anyone interested can apply. Then the Mayor and Councilwoman Perron as the CBD liaison will interview the candidates and the council will resolve appointments.  Michael Pickholz suggested that the CBDAC might recommend to the VC the types of skills they need and that the VC might take that into consideration in their appointments.

 

Concerns About Businesses’ Expenses:  The proposed curbside “grab and go” ordinance asks businesses and other interested parties to underwrite the associated lost parking revenue and some additional expense to implement.  In addition, however, businesses are also being asked to contribute to keeping the Pedestrian Mall open to fund the lost parking revenue to the village and incurred mall costs.  There is no other way to fund it given the deficit that the village is running because of covid and the need to also continue basic village services.  Taken together, these costs could be prohibitive to some businesses.   The CBDAC questioned whether the village was contributing to the viability of the CBD, compared to what some municipalities seem to be doing during this difficult time.

 

August Guest Speaker: Jordan Kaufman suggested that we invite someone from a nearby town with a similar CBD, such as Westwood, who many feel is taking positive actions to support their downtown.

 

Website:  Michael Velicu will provide a 5-minute update on the history and status of the website at the next meeting.  The website would be a critical component of any short or long-term marketing plans for the CBD.

 

Three-month Goals: All agreed to the three-month goals presented in the agenda: increasing communications between the CBD and relevant constituents and stakeholders; finalizing the website; and creating a marketing plan for the CBD.

 

Master Plan: Councilwoman Perron noted that the village is in the midst of the Master Plan process.  It would be helpful for the CBDAC  to make recommendations for the CBD.  She will forward the Oradell Master Plan as an example.

 

Next Steps: Jordan Kaufman summarized priorities over the next two weeks including:

  • Plan for cardboard pick-up for the CBD
  • Further support for the curbside ordinance 

 

The meeting was adjourned.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Kathryn Schmidt

July 31, 2020

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20200813 - CBDAC Minutes

Central Business District Advisory Committee

Minutes

August 13, 2020

 

In attendance: Councilwoman, Pamela Perron, Bill Gilsenan, Max Viola, Gary Kolesaire, Chief Jacqueline Luthcke, Philip Davis, Michael Pickholz, Michael Velicu, Jordan Kaufman, Kathryn Schmidt

 

Guests: Jeanne Johnson (Welcome Back Ridgewood), Heather Mailander (Village Manager), Sean Hamlin (Sanitation Coordinator)

 

Members of the Public: Paul Vagianos

 

The minutes of the July 23, 2020 meeting were approved.

 

Curbside Pick-up “Grab and Go”:  Councilwoman Perron reported that the Village Ordinance has been modified to suspend the requirement that someone remain in the car while using the grab and go spots. A pilot program will be in effect from August 31 to October 3 at a reduced rate of $75/space/week, compared to the standard cost of $100/space.  Fifteen spaces are currently being designated.

 

The next step is to communicate the program to garner sponsorships from businesses, organizations, or individuals who might wish to underwrite a grab and go space, focusing on the importance of the program to the viability of the downtown. Names of sponsors will be displayed if the program continues beyond the pilot. 

 

Communication suggestions include outreach to the Chamber, the Guild, and other organizations such as Rotary and Newcomers, direct email and phone calls to the businesses, outreach to the public via all aspects of social media including Feed the Frontlines.   It is important to have a strong pilot so that the program can be sustained through the winter when restaurants will no longer be able to operate outside.  It is important to gauge support soon, i.e. by Labor Day, to understand if the pricing is feasible for ongoing operation.  It was also suggested that businesses, specifically restaurants, could add a surcharge to their pricing to help pay for the cost of grab and go.

 

Cardboard Pickup in the CBD: Sean Hamlin provided background on the current situation indicating that the decision to discontinue picking up the businesses’ cardboard was not made lightly.  It was influenced by a number of factors including: the changing international market for cardboard which results in the Village now paying $60/ton to recycle cardboard when previously the Village earned $40/ton on cardboard; significant increase in resident cardboard pick-up (first priority) driven by mail services such as Amazon; the anticipated increase in resident pick-up as a result of  the high-density housing that will soon be opening; “contamination” of cardboard (food, grease, wrong mix) that drives down the price that recyclers will pay.

 

The Village continues to be willing to accept the businesses’ cardboard and dispose of it. The only change is that the businesses now need to get the cardboard to the recycling center.  It was also noted that picking up cardboard from the businesses in the CBD was done as a courtesy in the past because there was capacity and the economics worked.  

 

Members of the CBDAC will meet further on this with Sean to see if there are other options, e.g. designated pick-up zones. 

 

Bylaws: The bylaws subcommittee (Philip Davis, Michael Pickholz, Pamela Perron) met and presented the following background. In 2017, the Village Council agreed to provide The CBD Advisory Committee with annual funding from the Village of Ridgewood.  The initial funding amount was set at 1% of the prior fiscal year’s gross property tax revenue paid to the Village by the Central Business District, with the Committee granted the right to apply for a larger budget in subsequent years based on the Committee's projected needs.  

 

Therefore, the committee recommended amending the bylaws to include the following statement: “The Committee may apply for funding each year from the Village of Ridgewood by submitting a budget request to pay for anticipated expenses in executing its mission, in accordance with the Village’s annual budget application process.” 

 

A motion to amend the bylaws accordingly was made, seconded and unanimously approved.  See attached amended Bylaws.

 

Michael Pickholz noted that the committee needs to begin pulling their budget requests together to submit the appropriate paperwork in September.  Anyone wishing to join the budget sub-committee should reach out to Pamela, Kathryn, Jordon, Michael or Phillip.

 

Marketing the CBD and High-Density Housing:  Following up on our last meeting, Kathryn Schmidt has been in contact with Bill Gilsenan, Joan Groom from the Chamber, Dianne O’Brien (Community Liaison from Newcomers) and Max Viola (representing the Guild) to discuss how we might market the CBD to residents and prospective residents of the high-density housing units.

 

A two-phase process is being considered.  The first would be a brochure or folder with basic information (map, links to relevant sources, Joan suggested a “Guest Card” to get a free coffee, cookie, etc. with participating vendors) distributed through the developers and their real estate representatives to all prospective residents who come to view the apartments.  Then Newcomers, in partnership with the Guild, could deliver Welcome “Baskets”  to new residents when they move in.  Anyone interested in working on this project should contact Kathryn Schmidt.

 

CBDAC Membership: Councilwoman Perron provided an update on membership and tenure. The CBDAC currently has openings for two resident spots, which includes one delegate from the Citizen Safety Committee.  The Village Manger will now advertise the openings so any resident who wants to apply may do so.

 

The CBDAC listed the following as priorities and action items in the short term:

 

  • Supporting the Curbside Grab and Go amendment including communicating to all relevant constituents.
  • Creating a CBD Cardboard Pick-up sub-committee to work with the Village and the businesses  to come up with alternatives to the CBD cardboard pick-up concern.
  • Identify budget items for submission to the VC by September.
  • Marketing the CBD to the high-density housing prospects.
  • Deciding next steps on the web-site.

 

The next meeting is Thursday August 20 at 8:30 am.

 

The meeting was adjourned.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Kathryn Schmidt

August 17, 2020

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20200820 - CBDAC Minutes

Central Business District Advisory Committee

Minutes

August 20, 2020

 

In attendance: Councilwoman Pamela Perron, Chief Jacqueline Luthcke, Jordan Kaufman, Bill Gilsenan, Gary Kolesaire, Kathryn Schmidt, Philip Davis, Michael Velicu, Michael Pickholz, Patrick DeMeulder (intern to Councilwoman Perron)

 

Public comment: Jeannie Johnson provided an update on how Welcome Back Ridgewood is engaging the West Side since that part of the Village does not benefit from the Pedestrian Mall. There are members of West Side businesses on the Welcome Back Ridgewood Committee and Jeanne suggested that we include West Side representatives on the CBDAC.  WBR will focus on promoting the West Side next month.  There are also thoughts on creating a Ridgewood Walk of Fame in the area.  

 

Curbside Grab and Go: The pilot program is up and running and offers an opportunity to learn about what works for the CBD, especially as businesses will need to pivot as statewide ordinances regarding social distancing continue to evolve.  Jordan Kaufman engaged Ridgewood Rotary AM to underwrite five spaces during the pilot and to assume the role of managing the administrative process for the merchants. 

 

Councilwoman Perron and Joan Groom (Executive Director of the Chamber) have been meeting with businesses to inform them of the process and engage their support.  Some businesses are interested, but the cost of spaces might be prohibitive.  Others indicated that their customers require more time in their establishments therefore they do not need the curbside option.  The communication process will continue.

 

Cardboard Recycling in the CBD:  All agreed that the discussion with Sean Hamlin and Heather Mailander last week provided important and new information that many businesses and residents are not aware of and which shed light on the village’s difficult decision to no longer offer cardboard pick-up for CBD businesses.  The CBDAC subcommittee (Jordan Kaufman, Bill Gilsenan, Pamela Perron) will discuss ideas on how to engage merchants to solve this problem, perhaps through a private consortium that can hire a private contractor to transport cardboard to the recycling center.   There may also be an opportunity to partner with environmentally focused village committees to work on a solution.  It was acknowledged again, however, that the build-up of cardboard , both inside stores/storage areas, and outside, continues to be a problem. 

 

Website: The pros and cons of continuing the website project were discussed. While there is general agreement that a website that could be the virtual “Visitor’s Bureau” for the CBD would be valuable, it may not be feasible for the CBDAC may not provide the right platform to lead this project the complexities of running a website through the municipal government and given costs constraints in the village.  It may be better placed and managed through a Business Improvement District structure or other private entity.

 

 

Councilwoman Perron is attempting to retrieve the work that has been done to date as well as identify what costs, if any, were committed.

 

A sub-committee including Michael Velicu, Jeanne Johnson, Gary Kolesaire, Kathryn Schmidt, and Patrick De Meulder will review and come back to the CBDAC with recommendations. 

 

Marketing to Prospective CBD Tenants:  Kathryn Schmidt presented ideas on how we might capitalize on the influx of visitors to the CBD who will be viewing the new downtown residential complexes.  All members are asked to provide feedback and contribute ideas to the proposal.   Kathryn will work with Bill Gilsenan as well as members of the Chamber, the Guild, and Newcomer’s to determine and price a prototype.

 

Budget: Budget requests need to be submitted to the Village by mid-September.  After discussion, the preliminary list of items for consideration include funding curbside spaces, CBD marketing materials, support for development of a BID.   While it is recognized that this is a difficult time for funding,  the budget would represent an investment back into the CBD as a percent of taxes the CBD contributed to the Village.  Michael Pickholz, Philip Davis,  and Councilwoman Perron are the point people on this. 

 

Next Steps:  

  • Continue to support curbside implementation
  • Convene cardboard recycling team
  • Convene website team
  • Provide feedback on marketing plan
  • Submit budget items

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Kathryn Schmidt

August 21, 2020

 

 

 

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20200611 - CBDAC Minutes

Central Business District Advisory Committee  (CBDAC)

Minutes

Thursday, June11th, 2020

ZOOM MEETING

In Attendance: Jordan Kaufman, Philip Davis, Mayor Ramon Hache, Bill Gilsenan, Gary Kolesair, Michael Velicu and Lorraine Reynolds- Meeting began at 8:44 am

General discussion regarding the “Outdoor Mall” and specifically how CBDAC should be involved.

Parking Garage- delay due to PSE&G availability, anticipated opening the end of July 2020

Discussed anticipated problems in CBD-

  • Loading Zones/curbside pickups
  • Multi-family ongoing construction
  • Possible negative impact on business due to street closing
  • Compliance with Covid-19 guidelines for reopening

Feed the Front Lines raised over $100,000 and local restaurants delivered over 6,000 meals to both Valley Hospital, first responders and families in need due to financial impact of the Covid-19 shutdown.

Mayor Hache met with the Bergen County Executive and the Governor, reopening target initially was set for Mid-July however data is showing improvement, New date 6/15. The Mayor has met with every department head to review how Village will transition.

Reopening Issues-

  1. Business must create a comfortable environment to make the public feel safe.
    1. CBDAC will provide businesses with guidelines issued by the Village that are included in the outdoor café packet as well as a logo to be displayed on entrance door.
  2. Occupancy will be limited impacting profitability- levels may begin at 25% and increase over time
  3. How can the Village optimize use of Public Space

Discussed General Guidelines for businesses participating in the Outdoor mall

Discussed possible Marketing of CBD

Discussed future makeup of CBDAC, current terms expire in October.- Add members, consider task force members

Discussed success of commercial property owners forum

Pam Perron will replace Mayor Hache as the council representative

Meeting concluded at 9:56 am

 

 

 

 

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