Central Business District Advisory Committee
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.
July 31, 2020
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