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, RIDGEWOD, NEW JERSEY ON MARCH 27, 2019 AT 7:30 P.M.
- 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, Walsh, and Mayor Hache. Also present were Heather Mailander, Village Manager/Village Clerk; Matthew Rogers, Village Attorney; and Donna Jackson, Deputy Village Clerk.
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.
- COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC
Rurik Halaby, 374 Evergreen Place, stated that the Village website continues to be a joke as it is slow and poorly coded. He clicked on the Village Council Meeting under Upcoming Events, and after five slow seconds the page titled Community Calendar, was barely discernable with tiny print, and the agenda was displayed with tiny grey print on a tan background and was barely readable. He asked that the Mayor to stiffen his spine, put his foot down, and direct the Village Manager to retain a professional firm that would work along with Dylan Hansen to work on the site.
Mr. Halaby stated that the trees at the Train Station were cut down on Sunday, and all but two were healthy. He challenged the Village Manager to bring the arborist to the Village Council meeting to tell everyone otherwise. He added that if they were cut down because they were diseased, why would they keep the two remaining trees on the edge of the property as they are older and in worse shape.
Mr. Halaby stated that he was pleased to see progress with the Duck Pond, adding that since Councilman Sedon is running for State Assembly, and since there is speculation the power that be has bigger plans for Mayor Hache, he suggested that they cash in their chips with the County to get them to work on other County projects within the Village, such as the traffic lights which are a joke.
Mr. Halaby stated that the bridge on the Ho-Ho-Kus Brook at the High School looks like something out of the rust belt.
Boyd Loving, 342 South Irving Street, stated that in February 2014, Mr. Jeffrey Ball, President of the Federation of Dog Clubs of New Jersey, presented an award to the Mayor at that time that established Ridgewood as a Dog Friendly Community. He added that on the agenda there is an item on the discussion agenda to talk about dogs in Village parks and perhaps change the ordinance concerning dogs. He encouraged the Village Council to discuss permitting leashed dogs in all Village Parks with the exception of Graydon Park. At the time they do that, he would suggest that they stablish a minimum fine if somebody has an unleashed dog or fails to pick up their dog waste. Mr. Loving suggested that $250 is a good starting point for a minimum fine for an unleashed dog while the Village Code currently allows for $500 as a maximum fine. He suggested a fine of $50 for failure to pick up their dog waste.
Mr. Loving added that the Village should also put up poop bags in the parks, as he has seen some municipalities that have these available. He added that we are supposed to be a dog friendly community, and it would serve us well if we did permit owners of dogs to have their dogs on a leash in any Village Park with the exception of Graydon.
Jeffrey Ball, 11 Pershing Avenue, stated that he was the President of the New Jersey Federation of Dog Clubs, AKC Delegate, Certified Animal Control Officer, Animal Cruelty Investigator, and a resident. He does free micro-chipping at the rabies clinic, and has discussed this same issue with the Village Council previously. He offered his services to assist in any way he could regarding allowing dogs in the Village Parks.
Councilwoman Knudsen asked if Mr. Ball could share his contact information so they could call on him as a resource if necessary.
There were no additional comments from the public.
- MANAGERS REPORT
2019 Healthy Town to Watch – Ms. Mailander stated that Ridgewood was just named a 2019 Healthy Town to Watch by the Mayor’s Wellness Campaign. This acknowledges various initiatives, including an annual wellness festival, Good Life Ridgewood, in September. Goals for 2019 were to establish Ridgewood as a Stigma Free Place to Live, provide health education to residents, and encourage physical activity.
Ridgewood hosts a 12 week weight loss challenge which just began last week. It includes exercise classes, walking groups, a weekly support meeting, and health education seminars. Along with one on one nutritional counseling and blood pressure screening.
In addition, the Village offered Mental Health First Aid Training to teach residents how to identify and respond to signs of mental illness and substance abuse disorders as part of its Stigma Free Initiative.
Fit & Strong Instructor Training – Ms. Mailander stated that the Ridgewood Recreation Department has been selected as a recipient of the Fit & Strong Instructor Training Grant. This grant provides a special adult program promoting healthy aging in parks that combines physical activity with health education for those sedentary adults with lower extremity osteoarthritis and other chronic diseases. The program has just started and runs for 12 weeks, meeting two times a week.
Early Bird Registration for Graydon Pool – Ms. Mailander stated that the early bird registration for Graydon Pool will begin on April 1st and will run through April 30th, with a 10% discount for resident adults and children. The sign is up on the Village website.
Day Camp Registration – Ms. Mailander stated that Day Camp registration would begin on April 1st for children entering grades 1 through 6. The camp includes daily arts and crafts, organized games, daily swimming at Graydon Pool, and optional trips for older campers. The registration is through Community Pass.
Shred Day – As a correction to the 2019 Calendar, Shred Day in Ridgewood will take place on Sunday April 13th at the Graydon Pool parking lot from 9:00 A.M. to 12:30 P.M., rain or shine. Residents will be able to watch their documents on camera as they are securely shredded by Information Destruction Systems, which will then be recycled by Atlantic Coast Fibers. There is a limit of five file size boxes per vehicle. This is free to all residents and businesses. Please place items to be shredded in a paper bag or cardboard box, no plastic bags will be allowed.
NJDEP Grant – Ms. Mailander stated that the Village has received a grant from the NJDEP, It Pay$ to Plug In, for $6,000 for an electric vehicle charging station to be placed in the Municipal Complex Parking Lot.
Household Hazardous Waste Collection – Ms. Mailander stated that Household Hazardous Waste Collection, including fire extinguishers, florescent lightbulbs, insecticides, kerosene, and propane gas cylinders, will take place on Sunday April 14th at Bergen Community College which is located on Paramus Road in Paramus. It will take place from 9:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M., rain or shine.
125th Anniversary Celebration Committee – Ms. Mailander stated that the Village of Ridgewood is celebrating its 125th Anniversary in 2019, and the Village Council is looking for residents to serve on the 125th Anniversary Celebration Committee. There is still time to sign up, and if interested please email or call Eileen Young in the Village Clerks office no later than March 29th to provide her with your contact information.
Board of Education Election – Ms. Mailander stated that the Board of Education Election will be held on Tuesday, April 16th for a vote on the budget only. Polls will be open from 6:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M. The Board of Education election in April 2020 will have a vote on both the candidates and the budget. There will be no November BOE election this year.
Geese Peace – Ms. Mailander stated that David Feld, the Founder and National Director of Geese Peace will be holding a training session on Friday, March 29th from 3:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M. and Saturday, March 30th from 10:00 A.M. to 12:00 P.M. in the Senior Lounge on the ground floor of Village Hall. Preregistration is required and more information can be found on the Village website.
Estate Card – Ms. Mailander stated that the Estate Card is a debit card which allows you to shop locally and earn a credit towards your property tax payment. This program is opening up to renters as well, providing a credit toward utility bills. More information is located on the Village website.
E-Notices – Please sign up for E-Notices by clicking on the button on the Village website, “Sign up for Alerts” at the bottom of the homepage.
- COUNCIL REPORTS
Shade Tree Commission – Councilman Sedon stated that the Shade Tree Commission met yesterday and wanted him to hand out Arbor Day Foundation pamphlets regarding Trees for Better Streets. A discussion centered around the tree inventory. There are some unspent funds for tree replacement from last year, and there was a decision from the Committee to reappropriate those funds to go out for a full tree inventory that would help as the Village’s arborist said it could help with the Village receiving grant money. It would be helpful for Engineering, Parks and Recreation, and residents, because it could identify priority trees for pruning in heavily traveled areas, plus open the Village up for grants up to $300,000.
Master Plan – Councilwoman Knudsen stated that as a reminder, everyone should visit VisionRidgewood.org to take the survey to participate in the Visioning Process. If they are uncomfortable with computers they can contact Village Hall and request a hard copy survey, and mail it back to be collected and manually input by NV5. There is a deadline of April 15th for all surveys to be wrapped up and then they will start to put together the information packet and the results of the Visioning Survey.
Library Board – Councilwoman Walsh stated that the Library Board’s meeting was last night, and Ashley Lauria, the Youth Services Supervisor, did a presentation on the activities in the Youth Section of the Library. They talked about the Reading Marathon with 64% participation at the elementary level, which is up from prior years. They have a lot of information on their website, ChildrensDept@ridgewoodlibrary.org, or RidgewoodLibrary.org/Children, which has all of the information regarding the children’s programs and what is coming up.
Councilwoman Walsh added that the Library sponsors a Trivia Night once a month, on Monday April 1st at Park West Tavern from 8:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. with a team of six people, and the theme for this Monday is Game of Thrones. There are 60 people already signed up.
Citizen Safety Advisory Council – Councilman Voigt stated that they met last Thursday evening. There were a number of residents who live on Oak Street who were concerned about the school bus route between West Glen and Robinson. There was concern about cars appearing to ignore the buses that are stopped with the lights on and the stop sign out on the bus. They are also concerned about some of the cars in the morning going around that blocked area going down Walnut Street to avoid the buses. Sergeant Chuck said the Police Department would look into this and report back to CSAC next month.
The North Walnut Contingent also met last Thursday and they are seeking assistance regarding cars speeding up and down Linwood and Franklin. Sergeant Chuck said that they would report back to CSAC at the May meeting.
Councilman Voigt stated that NV5 was at the meeting, and they had some discussion related to safety in the town, students getting to and from school, and the importance of the safety of the students. They also discussed pedestrian safety in the Central Business District, considering the four large developments that are going to be built, and circulation of traffic in the CBD.
Community Center Advisory Board – Councilman Voigt stated that they are meeting tomorrow night. They are asking for when the updated information would be posted on the Village website.
Fair Lawn/Ridgewood Weight Loss Challenge – Mayor Hache stated that last Wednesday he attended the Weight Loss Challenge. He and the Fair Lawn Mayor were there to do the introductions. It was a very well attended event and there were a lot of people who were motivated to accept the challenge.
YMCA Gala – Mayor Hache stated that he had the honor of being the emcee for the YMCA Gala on Friday night at the Ridgewood Country Club. This year they honored long time YMCA Supporter, Tom Wells, and it was also a fundraiser for the transformation of the entire facility that they are about to launch. They were able to raise $150,000.
Jersey Mikes – Mayor Hache stated that on the last Wednesday of March, customers are invited to come in and donate to a charity partner, and nationwide they are donating $7.5 million to charities.
Hudson Street Parking Garage – Mayor Hache stated that earlier today they had a meeting with the Village Manager, Councilwoman Knudsen, and Mr. Rogers with EPIC for a series of bi-weekly meetings to go over the status of the construction of the garage. They have finally been able to pin down a timeline, and they will have a big poster of it downstairs in the entrance to share with everyone. The existing lot is expected to close on August 25th, as they had some trouble sourcing the precast concrete. The lot will not be available until February. Hudson Street will have to close for one week during the last sequence of construction. Mayor Hache added that the project is still within the original timeline that they had agreed to and he was happy to see it moving forward.
Councilwoman Knudsen stated that this would be added to the next agenda so that they can display it for everyone. Ms. Mailander stated that it would as long as it is received by next week.
- Hudson Street Parking Lot
Ms. Mailander stated that the Hudson Street Parking Lot has eight North-South rows of parking available, and the first three rows currently are shoppers and diners with a three hour limit and 28 parking spaces will remain the same. The fourth and fifth rows are for permit holders only. They sixth, seventh and eighth rows will be for flex parking. They will be able to be used by shoppers, diners, or permit holders. The ordinance that they are considering for introduction outlines that. On April 10th there will also be an ordinance considered that after 3:00 P.M. anyone can park in those spots without a permit.
Ms. Mailander added that Mr. Rogers created a resolution which they are going to consider this evening that says that they are going to temporarily suspend the enforcement to allow Hudson Street parkers with a hang-tag and shoppers and diners who will have a three hour limit and will still have to pay the meter until the adoption of the present parking ordinance.
Councilman Voigt asked how many permits had been sold. Ms. Mailander stated that right now there were eleven, and 22 were allocated because they are hopeful that when the ride-sharing is in place, additional people will sign up for it. The lot looks like it will close at the end of August, so if by chance it changes and they don’t get any additional people, perhaps they will open up that row to shoppers and diners.
Councilwoman Walsh stated that they have only sold eleven and are assuming that eleven more will be sold, but they are still allowing for them in the 26 spots as well. Ms. Mailander stated that right now, they allow them in the 55 spots. She added that many people didn’t want to commit to parking just in Hudson Street because they were unsure of what the ride sharing was going to be. She felt that they may decide that they want to participate once the agreement is in place. Councilwoman Walsh asked why they don’t just leave it as 22. Ms. Mailander stated that it is first come-first served, and if there aren’t any permit holders to fill up those 22 spots then shoppers and diners will use them. She added that those individuals paid a premium to park in Hudson Street, so the plan was to allow them to park the closest to Broad Street. Councilwoman Walsh stated that a lot of people have observed that even those eleven people aren’t parking there, so the lot is just sitting with empty spots. She asked why they don’t just allow the shoppers and diners in all rows.
Councilwoman Knudsen added that Councilwoman Walsh is right, because if they allocated those spaces as either/or, and the other 22 spaces are hang-tags only, the hang-tag holders could actually occupy the spaces that were intended to be opened up. She added that they should remove the either/or so that there isn’t the chance that somebody instead of parking here, they would park there. Councilwoman Walsh said that with a permit they can park in the flex spaces, so that the spot in the 22 sits vacant and no one can park there. Ms. Mailander stated that she understood.
Councilwoman Knudsen stated that the amendment should be that it should just be shoppers/diners. There was some discussion about how to change the wording. Mayor Hache stated that he felt it made sense to say that the other spots are for shoppers/diners all day, three hour limits, and Hudson Street permit holders. He asked if they could mark the stems of the eleven spots that are Hudson Street only. Councilwoman Knudsen pointed out the areas to remove the flex space wording.
Mayor Hache asked if there was any opposition regarding the 22 spaces being withheld. The Village Council was in agreement that 22 spaces were fine. Councilwoman Knudsen reminded everyone that at 3:00 P.M. all of the spaces become flex and go into general inventory.
Councilman Voigt stated that the Hudson Street lot is in terrible disrepair, adding that the other day he parked in a ditch. He asked if anything could be done. Ms. Mailander stated that they could patch the potholes that are there. Councilwoman Knudsen was in agreement.
- SPECIAL PUBLIC MEETING - SEE SEPARATE MINUTES
Councilman Sedon called for a motion to adjourn the Regular Work Session and convene the Special Public Meeting. Councilwoman Knudsen seconded the motion.
There was a motion by Councilman Sedon 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
- Ridgewood Water
- Award Contract – Annual PFAS Laboratory Analysis Service
Ms. Mailander stated that this is to award a contract for per- and polyfluoroalkyl laboratory analysis services. A total of two bid specifications were picked up and two were received. One was a total of $91,000 and the other was $101,000. Ridgewood Water is required to test all points of entry into the water system for the presence of PFAS. A total of 14 analyte’s will be tested in each sample and the results utilized to develop treatment strategies for the removal of the contaminants found.
The recommendation is to award to the lowest bidder, SGS North America, of Rutherford, in an amount not to exceed $91,000. This is in the 2019 Water Utility Budget.
- Award State Contract – Furnish and Deliver Unleaded Gasoline
Ms. Mailander stated that the Village purchases fuel off of the New Jersey State Contract for our vehicles. Our purchases will exceed $17,500 for the year. This is to confirm the contract with a State Contract vendor, Allied Oil, A Division of Griffith-Allied Trucking.
- Award Contract – Restore Concrete Wall and Drainage Ditch – Hillcrest Road
Ms. Mailander stated that there is a concrete wall and drainage ditch on Hillcrest Road near 53 West Glen Avenue. The Village solicited quotes from three local contractors. The lowest quote was from ConQuest Construction Inc. Funds for the work are available in the Capital Account.
- Award Contract – Train Station Coffee Concession
Ms. Mailander stated that this goes out for proposal every three years. There were two plan holders eligible to bid, and the Village received one bid. The highest bid received was from Be Power, LLC d/b/a Flo’s Market, with a quote of $28,800 for three years of the concession. There is an additional two years of the concession after the first three years have been completed, if the Village chooses to exercise that option. The sole bidder has been operating the coffee bar successfully for the past several years.
- Award Contract – Emergency Work at Andover Pump Station
Ms. Mailander stated that the Andover Pump Station experienced a failure of its two pumps. Both pumps need to be replaced. Pumping Services, Inc. of Middlesex can provide the type of pumps we need through the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission Cooperative Pricing System. The cost of the two pumps is approximately $49,684.10. This work is an emergency due to the loss of one pump and the poor condition of the second pump. Pumping Services is also our vendor for the emergency bypass pumping system we are presently installing at the pump station.
- Award Contract – Emergency Work at Heights Road Collapsed Sewer
Ms. Mailander stated that the Village recently awarded a contract to North American Pipeline Services of Freehold, in the amount of $176,248.20 for some pipe lining work for the Village and Ridgewood Water Company. Last week on a portion of Heights Road, there was an approximate 4-foot wide hole in the center of the recently resurfaced street down to the invert of the storm water conveyance pipe. The pipe is a 30-inch diameter aluminum corrugated metal pipe which was heavily oxidized. The oxidization of the pipe led it to fail and cause the collapse.
At this point, the Village can either excavate the old pipe and replace it or line it. To excavate and replace the pipe would be a large scale project. Lining would be less intrusive and destructive to the street. The Village Engineer is recommending further investigation to line the pipe.
To line the pipe, he is recommending a change order to North American Pipeline Services. The first task would be to clean and televise the existing pipe to ensure it can be lined. If the pipe can be lined, a liner to create a new pipe inside of the existing pipe would cost $145 per linear foot. The total for the change order at this time is $69,650.
Before the pipe can be cleaned, the area of the collapse needs to be converted into a manhole. Mr. Rutishauser is soliciting prices from two local contractors to install a manhole. The manhole would also be used for the insertion of the liner if the host pipe is satisfactory for lining. This will be an additional cost. This is a change order to an existing contract.
- Award State Contract – Various Parts & Services – Fleet Services
Ms. Mailander stated that this is to award a contract under State Contract to Kirk’s Tire & Auto in an amount not to exceed $55,000 for the year.
- Award County Contract – Bituminous Concrete & Various Road Repair Materials
Ms. Mailander stated that the Village purchases bituminous concrete for various road repairs and materials through the Bergen County Cooperative Purchasing Program. The contract holder is Braen Stone Industries of Haledon, and is awarded in the amount of $40,000.
- Transfer Authority – Construction Board of Appeals – Bergen County
Tom Yotka, Director, Department of Building and Inspections, requested that the Village Council formally transfer their authority from the local board to the County for construction appeals. Currently, Ridgewood is one of only three municipalities in Bergen County that do not utilize the Bergen County Construction Board of Appeals. The State Statute under the Uniform Construction Code automatically defaults any cases that would be heard in Ridgewood to the County. They are looking at potentially just a resolution to formally send all of our cases, if we have any, to the County Board of Appeals.
Councilwoman Knudsen asked how many cases has the Village has had over the years. Mr. Yotka stated that since the last time this was brought forth to the Council they have had zero. However, with the complexity of some of the projects underway now they could potentially hear some cases and he would rather be prepared than to have to juggle the schedule to get them down to the County. In the event that there is a disagreement in the interpretation of the Code or the enforcement process, the Village has a good track record of resolving those matters in house. But if it cannot be resolved amicably at this level, they need an appeal process for the application.
Mayor Hache stated that he was okay with it. Councilman Voigt asked if the appeal process was lengthy if they went through the County. Mr. Yotka stated that the County has a fixed schedule, and they meet every third Thursday of the month. He added that he spoke with the secretary today and she stated that they have a six to eight week back-log. They have about 15 cases in the queue right now and try to handle at least five every meeting. Mr. Yotka added that there is more structure at the County level. Previously the Village would have to gather its members and it was difficult to get them all at the same place and time. He added that this fixed meeting schedule would benefit the applicant.
Mr. Rogers stated that in the time that he has been the Village Attorney, he didn’t think he had defended any matters before the Village Construction Board of Appeals. The upside was the autonomy of it and the downside was the delay. He added that if you can’t work things out with the Building Department by making the proper adjustments to make things acceptable to the Village, then you will face a situation where you have to wait before you can do anything. It may be an incentive to work with the Village. He added that the Village doesn’t have the history to get everything together and it would probably be a month before all that could be put together anyway.
Mr. Yotka stated that finding members to fill the Board, as they need five with five alternates, and finding people who are local and don’t have any affiliation with Ridgewood is difficult. There was consensus among the Village Council that they were fine with this.
- Accept Donation – Water Table at Ridgewood Run – Memorial Day
Ms. Mailander stated that the North Jersey Masters would like to donate $1,000 to the Community Center because each year volunteers, made up of Parks and Recreation staff, family members, and neighboring residents, host a water table on Fairfield Avenue for the runners of the 10k during the Ridgewood Run. As a thank you, North Jersey Masters donated some of the proceeds to the Community Center to help fund programs as needed.
- Amend Ordinance – Dogs in Village Parks
Ms. Mailander stated that the Village is maintaining what they have in the past. The dogs are prohibited from: Citizens Park, Graydon Park, Pleasant Park, Twinney Pond Park, Memorial Park at Van Neste Square, Bellair Tennis Courts, and Veterans Memorial Fields. Dogs shall only be permitted on a leash, with a leash no longer than 6 feet and an adequate collar, at: Irene Habernickel Family Park, Schedler Park, Dunham Trail (from Grove Street to Spring Avenue), Grove Park, and Gypsy Pond Park (south of Lakeview Compost Facility).
Ms. Mailander pointed out that Mr. Loving indicated during Public Comment that he wanted dogs allowed in all parks. The Fields Committee amendments that were adopted late last fall included the fact that there were not going to be dogs in these parks listed. Many of them have fields, and at those fields the PRC and BOE agreed that it was difficult to have the dogs at the fields. There is a new type of activity that happens where people take their dogs off the leash, corral together, and then they end up on the field and have to be removed. Ms. Mailander added that there was a liability for the Village.
Mayor Hache stated that the Fields Committee concerns were not so much from a safety standpoint but more of a health issue, not wanting dogs on athletic fields, and those dogs must be on a leash. He added that he sees dogs in a lot of the prohibited parks a lot of the time, but he thinks that having a dog on a leash makes good sense in any of the parks, but he felt they should be more consistent in terms of all or none of the parks. He stated that they should put some parameters around the concerns of the Fields Committee and the PRC.
Councilwoman Knudsen stated that she has thought this through a lot, and asked Mr. Rogers if someone with a seeing eye dog or an emotional support dog, would be permitted to bring a service animal into any park. Mr. Rogers stated that right now, the way that this ordinance is written, he doesn’t believe that they would be allowed to do that. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that last year there was a program at Van Neste and somebody had their dog for a presentation and that dog was permitted. She added that other than the sports fields, she didn’t see any reason why they couldn’t be allowed at the park on a leash and allow them to walk through the park.
Mayor Hache stated that even if it is Vets Field, could the dogs be allowed on the track and not the field itself. Councilwoman Knudsen was in agreement. Mr. Rogers stated that they could work out exceptions with some help from wording from other towns regarding service animals.
Councilman Voigt asked how many dog violations the Village has per year. Ms. Mailander stated that it is difficult to enforce because if someone has a dog off leash and it is reported, the Police Officer has to get there. She added that there are dog bites. Councilman Voigt asked how many there were and where they occur. Ms. Mailander stated that she would reach out to the Health Department to find out. Councilman Voigt stated that if a bite occurs at a sports field that would be important to know.
Councilwoman Walsh stated that several of her neighbors have been bit, with one occurring at the Duck Pond. She added that she was at Habernickel and a dog was running all over the place and she asked them to put the dog on the leash and received some choice words. You have to be able to enforce the dog off the leash. She added that ADA compliance trumps anything that the Village would enact regarding service dogs. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that with strict enforcement, the first question is if anybody had an objection to adding Memorial Park as a place that someone could bring their dog on a leash.
Councilwoman Walsh stated that Van Neste is a park where a lot of people sit on the grass, and dogs could relieve themselves. She added that you wouldn’t have dogs on a tennis court, and Vets Field with the track seems ok, but once they get on the field you have people laying on the field and there is already the challenge with the geese.
Councilman Voigt asked for additional information regarding dog bites. Ms. Mailander stated that she could get that, but added that they would have to amend the Fields Policy and the BOE would have to amend it too, considering it says that dogs aren’t allowed at all. She added that there were too many instances where dogs were going on the field and there were health and liability concerns.
Councilman Voigt asked if this follows what the Board of Education currently allows. Ms. Mailander stated that the top is what the Village currently has listed, and the bottom of the page that was provided is adding additional parks that were not named previously and allowing them on leash.
Councilman Sedon stated that he would be in favor of putting in an exemption for service animals. He added that it makes sense that dogs shouldn’t be allowed in parks that are primarily fields, adding that Maple Field should be added to the list. He stated that he would allow dogs in Twinney Pond Park as there are no sports activities there. Councilwoman Walsh stated that at Twinney they always let their dog off the leash and then they end up in the pond and someone has to rescue them.
Councilwoman Knudsen stated that what Councilwoman Walsh is suggesting is that dogs are already in the park, and so they would be memorializing that dogs are in the park, and can be there, but they must be on a leash. There are animals in the park, so in this instance the dog can be in the park but needs to be on a leash. Maybe seeing a sign that the dog must be on a six foot leash and then they can look at enforcement.
Ms. Mailander stated that she would bring back more information and it could be discussed next week or at the end of April. They need to look back at the Fields Policy and see exactly what that says.
- Amend Ordinance – Police Fees
Ms. Mailander stated that there are various police fees that the Police Chief has asked to be increased. One is for reproduction of any motor vehicle accident report on forms required by the New Jersey Division of Motor Vehicles when received any other way than in person there will be a $5 flat fee plus a charge per page of five cents for 8.5 x 11 inches, and seven cents for 11 x 14 inches, plus mailing costs. Photographs on CD for Discovery, and DVDs for Discovery have been reduced from $10 to $1. Reproduction of any police or fire reports, discovery, when requested to be mailed or sent electronically, there would be a $5 flat fee plus a charge per page of five cents for 8.5 x 11 inches, and seven cents for 11 x 14 inches, plus mailing costs. Fingerprinting is now $40, and then a Good Conduct Letter is a new charge at $10. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that a bank escort was removed.
- Relocation of Stop Signs at Hope and Gilbert Streets
Ms. Mailander stated that there was a request to move the stop signs at Hope and Gilbert Streets. The Police Department conducted a speed study, the Engineer conducted a field examination of the intersection, the Police Department provided accident history, and the Engineering Department provided a pictorial copy explaining the Village’s physical or visual obstructions.
Mayor Hache asked if they reached out to any of the residents in that location. Ms. Mailander stated that she sent an email and it was determined that there were residents in attendance. Councilwoman Knudsen asked if this was the intersection where they changed a yield sign to a stop sign a couple of years ago. Mr. Rutishauser stated that Councilwoman Knudsen was correct, this was an intersection that previously had yield signs on the approaches and they were upgraded to stop signs in November 2017.
Mr. Rutishauser stated that yield signs are not as definitive as a stop sign, and in this location the accident history shows several accidents occurred just before they upgraded to the stop signs. The Police Department did a speed study and had a very low percentage above the speed limit, with 3.9% in one direction and 3.6% in the other direction for traffic above the limit. He added that there are many other streets in the community that have much greater speeding problems. He stated that at this time he did not see specific warrants to change the direction of the stop signs.
Councilwoman Knudsen asked about the speed enforcement evaluator sheet. There is an enforcement tolerance, and was the 3.9% above the speed limit or above the enforcement limit. Mr. Rutishauser stated that he did not know and that was a question for Officer Turino who performed the study. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that if it is 3.9% above the posted speed limit, it seems not as relevant if it is 3.9% above the enforcement limit.
Mr. Rutishauser stated that he took photographs of the intersection from several different directions, and on the approaches to the intersection there are a number of large bushes and trees that could constrain sight angles. The current set up of traffic control devices seems to allow the shrubs to remain; however, if the signs were switched, shrubbery would have to be removed to get better sight lines. Some of the shrubs may predate the adoption of the Village’s sight obstruction ordinance. The accident history from 2010 to 2019 shows nothing after 2017, and before that there were two accidents. There are very few directly related to the intersection.
Councilwoman Knudsen asked Mr. Rogers about the shrubbery. If they do a triangulation on corners, and regardless of where the signage is, that visibility could be a bicyclist coming up the street with lower visibility because of the shrubs. Mr. Rutishauser stated that a cyclist would have to treat the traffic control devices the same as a motorist, they would have to stop at the stop sign and should not blow the intersection. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that obviously there is a benefit to having a clear visual. Mr. Rogers stated that there are regulations in the Village with regard to that sight distance and Mr. Rutishauser would know if these locations meet them. Mr. Rutishauser stated that there is a sketch that was prepared that explains sight obstruction and what areas the ordinance requires to be clear. He isn’t sure when it was adopted in relation to the vegetation that he observed.
Councilman Voigt commented that on the speed enforcement evaluator, and the time frame that it was done. Mr. Rutishauser stated that the first one was done from Monday the 18th of February through Wednesday the 20th, and the unit is mounted and records continuously. The second location was Friday the 22nd of February through Sunday the 24th. Councilman Voigt stated that there seems to be a disconnect between what they found and what the neighbors are concerned about, as they mentioned that there were several speeding instances. Mr. Rutishauser stated that he can’t explain why there is a disconnect because the Police Department didn’t note anything that warranted an enforcement effort.
Mayor Hache stated that most people would say let’s just put a four way stop sign there, and he asked what the difficulty would be. Mr. Rutishauser stated that with any traffic control device you have to define the legal justifications for the implementation of the traffic control device. It does get quite critical when an unfortunate instance occurs, and there was one occasion at Van Dien and West Ridgewood Avenue. When a legal situation occurs, you need to have the warrants and the justification to justify the actions.
Councilman Voigt asked that if they did it and something bad happened that would be bad. Mr. Rutishauser stated that they don’t have the justification for a four way stop sign right now. Councilman Voigt stated that if they did put a four way stop sign and something bad happened, he asked if that would be bad for the Village. Mr. Rogers stated that what Mr. Rutishauser was alluding to was that if someone stops at the stop sign and is rear-ended, without justification for the stop sign; the Village certainly could be included in a lawsuit. Mr. Rutishauser added that all traffic regulations in the United States are covered by the Manual Uniform Traffic Control Devices, and they have a section regarding yield and stop signs that they “should not be used for speed control.”
Councilman Voigt asked if they would put a speed limit sign to address the speeding. Mr. Rutishauser stated that the enforcement actions would be done through the Police Department. Councilman Voigt asked if there were speed limit signs on that street. Mr. Rutishauser stated that he would double check, but the Village-wide speed limit is 25 miles per hour. Mayor Hache asked if they could add a slow down sign. Mr. Rutishauser stated that slow down would actually be “slow ahead.” Councilwoman Knudsen stated that they dealt with this on the corner of Spring and Kenilworth, and discovered that you can’t put a four way stop, but they did add the double faced stop signs and that seems to be pretty effective. She asked if the stop signs were double faced here. Mr. Rutishauser stated that they were not, and that was an upgrade that doesn’t require any action from the Village Council in an official sense. Councilwoman Knudsen asked if that would be helpful in his opinion. Mr. Rutishauser stated that it can be helpful; however, there wasn’t much of a problem there, but it does stay within the frame of MUTCD.
Mr. Rogers stated that he would work with Mr. Rutishauser regarding the sight visuals on the corners. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that was important, and she didn’t know how shrubbery becomes grandfathered into the ordinance. Ms. Mailander agreed as she didn’t see how anything could be grandfathered in. Mr. Rogers stated that there has been some legislation over the years with regards to municipalities trying to take homeowners to task with regard to that type of thing. They do give credence to the longevity of the plantings or the obstruction and what goes on. He added that they would get some measurements there to see what they could do.
Councilwoman Knudsen stated that sending a link to that MUTCD page would be helpful. Mr. Rutishauser agreed.
- COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC
Diane Palasios, 342 North Van Dien, stated that she thought that the Village Council was going to vote on the dog amendment, and what she wanted to say was that when she was walking on the sidewalk and people were walking their dogs, many people don’t walk their dogs so that its safe. She added that people are not controlling their dogs on a leash and she thinks the Village Council is probably aware of it. She suggested having a place like Vets Field where people cannot bring their dog, so that people like her who like to do a daily walk, will not have to worry about having something that they have to be careful about in front of them. Ms. Palasios added that places where there are dirt paths, dogs should be allowed and it is a great place for dogs, because it is good for their feet. She added that when she walks her son’s dog, she makes sure that the dog is aligned properly with someone walking towards her. She has seen people let their dogs run freely, and there have to be places where dogs can run, such as Leuning Park.
Ms. Palasios added that they put a fence along Franklin Turnpike behind Air Brook so you can’t walk behind, and there used to be wildlife there but now they can’t go there. The animals went from Twinneys to that area, and all along Route 17. It is being built up, and the wildlife doesn’t have a place. She stated that when she moved here in 1978 her neighbor was Dr. Robert Olsen, head of the Science Department at Ridgewood High School. He was composting and concerned about plastic and Styrofoam. She added that people laughed at him at that time.
Lilly Farooqi, 329 Gilbert Street, stated that she noticed that the analysis sheets were done over the Presidents Holiday weekend, and most of the speeding that they have noticed are during school hours when parents are rushing to get their children to the high school.
Joseph Avallo, 331 Gilbert Street, stated that he was surprised that the analysis was done on the weekend and during a holiday. He asked if the Village could take the stop signs now that are at Gilbert and move them to Hope Street as he feels this would solve the problem.
Eugene Lorenzi, 202 South Van Dien, stated that a year ago he provided pictures of his broken sidewalk from when the Village cut down a tree and prepared for resurfacing the road. He added that as of today, there is no resolution. He spent $900, and he wants it to be replaced.
Rurik Halaby, 374 Evergreen Place, stated that he felt having a timer with lights that people could see during public comment would be a good idea. He asked when the Village Council was going to do anything with the sound system. He added that he wasn’t expecting an answer, but they need to have the sound system changed.
Mr. Halaby stated that the Village Engineer and himself have locked horns in the past, but he has never understood his position on four way stop signs. The intersection of Ridgewood Avenue and Broad Street needs a four way stop because people heading west on Ridgewood Avenue fly through the intersection without slowing down and is an accident waiting to happen. He sympathized with people on Gilbert and Hope. He added that he had a message for the Bergen Record and Ridgewood News, there is a Pulitzer Prize waiting behind the dais, Ridgewood with a proud tradition of government over decades is being driven to the ground by cynical, corrupt politics.
Boyd Loving, 342 South Irving Street, stated that he looked at the yellow binder at the proposed revised ordinance for the dog situation, and again they are missing parks. Leuning Park is not on the list. He added that someone should get a list of all the parks in the community and make sure that they can or can’t have dogs.
Mr. Loving added that he saw an article online yesterday regarding Hackensack University Medical Center, where the City of Hackensack had negotiated an agreement with Hackensack University Medical Center to pay a pilot of $4 million over the next six years. This reminded him that he has never heard a Village Council discuss trying to negotiate a pilot with Valley Hospital. He is assuming that is part of the agreement for them moving out of town, but is hoping that is not the case as we know from some correspondence that he had with the Village earlier this week. We are still providing services to the Valley Hospital and they will be here through the year 2022 and then they will continue to own property in the municipality after that. He added that he is boggled since the Supreme Court said it was okay to get money from these institutions, and asked why the Village wasn’t getting any money from the property at 223 North Van Dien. He added that it was about time that the Village Council took some action to get some money to cover all of the services that the Village is providing at that address.
Anne Loving, 342 South Irving Street, stated that she wanted to add something to the discussion about the dogs, that she felt badly for the scenario that Councilwoman Walsh is describing at a particular park. As a long time dog owner, she tries to be very responsible, and she always pulls aside to avoid someone else with a dog because you never know what the interaction was going to be. She would not presume to advise what the Police Department would do, but perhaps the Police Department might go over there once or twice during key times. She added that she feels bad if irresponsible dog owners are going to cause trouble for the responsible dog owners.
There were no additional comments from the public.
Mayor Hache stated that with regard to Gilbert and Hope, he felt they brought up a good point about the dates of the observations and he would certainly want to revisit that and look at it at a more appropriate time. The concerns that were originally brought to the Village Council were that the presence of children during school hours, made this worth revisiting. He added that there was justification in placing the stop signs on the other sides and they can’t just be flipped because there is no justification for doing it.
Mayor Hache stated that Mr. Lorenzi would get his pictures returned if they had them, and suggested that they have a follow-up conversation with the Village Manager as to the details.
Mayor Hache stated that regarding the sound system, Dylan Hansen has met with a sound engineer who looked at the layout of the room, the height of the ceilings, and the equipment they were looking to bring in. He concurred with what Mr. Hansen had assessed and they are moving forward with that. Ms. Mailander stated that a purchase order has been given to the company and the work will be performed some time at the end of April.
Mayor Hache stated that regarding Valley Hospital and the pilot program, he knows that there was a discussion about that. Mr. Rogers stated that the Valley Hospital issue had nothing to do with the Supreme Court decision because that was Morristown and they had some for-profit activities. The deal with Hackensack and HUMC is about an expansion of the hospital and taking over new properties there. They were able to work out a pilot in exchange for the taxes. He added that Valley would most likely be in Ridgewood until 2024, which is a close window on it. Things will change when they move out, and there may be a discussion then, but he would be more than willing to talk to anyone about it because it has been looked at and approached. Mr. Rogers added that there are tax appeals with that property to try and readjust the tax situation, but they haven’t been called into trial yet, and there are three years pending.
Mayor Hache stated that there were accusations that the governing body of Ridgewood is corrupt or incompetent, which he found inappropriate and didn’t speak very highly of them in that capacity. He is disappointed that a comment would come from a member of the public as certainly there is no evidence of misdoing and their ethics and integrity remain intact.
- RESOLUTION TO GO INTO CLOSED SESSION
Deputy Village Clerk, Donna Jackson read Resolution #19-103 to go into Closed Session as follows:
There being no further business to come before the Village Council, on a motion by Councilman Voigt, seconded by Councilwoman Walsh, and carried unanimously by voice vote, the Village Council’s Work Session was adjourned at 9:16 P.M.
Ramon M. Hache, Sr.
Donna M. Jackson
Deputy Village Clerk
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