A REGULAR WORK SESSION OF THE VILLAGE COUNCIL OF THE VILLAGE OF RIDGEWOOD HELD VIA ZOOM, DUE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC, ON DECEMBER 2, 2020 AT 7:30 P.M.
- CALL TO ORDER – OPEN PUBLIC MEETINGS ACT – ROLL CALL – FLAG SALUTE
Mayor Knudsen called the meeting to order at 7:31 P.M. and read the Statement of Compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act as well as a required announcement regarding the remote meeting format. At roll call the following were present: Councilmembers Perron, Reynolds, Sedon, Walsh, and Mayor Knudsen. Also present were Heather Mailander, Village Manager/Village Clerk; Donna Jackson, Deputy Village Clerk; and Matthew Rogers, Village Attorney.
Mayor Knudsen led those in attendance in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag as well as in a Moment of Silence for our men and women serving our nation, especially our Blue Star Families and Gold Star Families, and for our First Responders.
- COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC
Scott Lief, President of the Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce, 27 Chestnut Street, stated that he as there to make the Village Council aware of the fantastic efforts of the HealthBarn Foundation. HealthBarn has been a topic of discussion in our Village lately and this should shed some more positive light on this invaluable community member. The HealthBarn Foundation is up for a $100,000 grant from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. This grant goes out to organizations that have provided at least 3,000 meals to those in need. Thanks to HealthBarn’s involvement with Feed the Frontlines earlier this year, over 8,000 meals in that program alone have been provided to frontline workers and those in need in our community. There are very few organizations that meet this criteria for the grant and HealthBarn is one.
Upon award of this grant, HealthBarn will have $100,000 to be spent in Ridgewood restaurants for the second phase of Feed the Frontlines. Mr. Lief stated that this money will buy food that will feed those in need right here in our community from those in our community. When Feed the Frontlines launched last spring, their efforts generated well over $100,000 and that money was spent in our community. This grant would put us in the situation to continue that support for our local restaurants as outdoor dining wanes. As Village Council considers HealthBarn’s future here in Ridgewood, he urged them to consider this immeasurable support for our Central Business District to factor into their decisions. Add that to the countless community programs they already offer, we should count ourselves among the extremely fortunate to have such an important and vital member within our community.
Ethan Levy, 84 Wildwood Road, stated that he is in 7th grade and that HealthBarn is a wonderful organization for many kids and families in our community. Many kids are very picky with what they choose to eat and HealthBarn has made it their objective to prevent that from happening. The classes are great for picky eaters but HealthBarn also benefits children like him who are not involved in sports. It is great for non-sports kids to have an accepting, caring, and safe place to go like HealthBarn. Not only does it provide a fun after school activity or summer camp, it also positively affects kids by doing hands-on healthy cooking and baking, helps them make friends, and opens creative minds. Ethan stated that over the past five years, he has attended many programs at HealthBarn. He started as a seedling and is now a master chef. The director, Stacey Antine, has helped him develop his love for gardening, composting, and has assisted him in opening his own bakery.
Ethan added that besides the fun classes that HealthBarn offers, they also participate in the Healing Meals Program in which volunteers gather at a kitchen and make meals for those who don’t have a way to receive a healthy, fulfilling meal. Most recently, they cooked all afternoon and into the evening for a few nights to cook holiday meals for seniors at the Ridgecrest Complex, families at the YMCA, and families of patients being treated for cancer at local hospitals. They have made hundreds of meals for these people who needed it. He felt so proud to be part of the project and it was all made possible by HealthBarn. He added that Stacey Antine and the HealthBarn has made it a goal to teach kids and adults that eating healthy is fun and delicious, she has also shown many of them that cooking, baking, gardening, composting, and volunteer work is cool. He plans to continue participating in the HealthBarn programs.
Jan Botcher, 425 Fairfield Avenue, stated that as far as the election is concerned she found it difficult to choose which side to vote for because people she admires on both sides of the issue made compelling arguments. One of the single most compelling arguments she heard was why you would give up your right to vote by moving the elections to the fall. She voted against consolidating the elections, but she is adamantly against appealing and continuing to spend money on trying to overturn the vote. There may have been some technicalities and she doesn’t fully understand it, but she doesn’t think that the ballot question was unclear and she thinks the vote of the people was very clear.
Ms. Botcher stated that regarding the shooting range, there is very little information out there about it. She has heard some numbers, but she is not sure if those are correct. The numbers she has seen for the capital expenditure divided by the number of officers, is thousands of dollars per officer per year just on a capital basis. That doesn’t consider the upkeep that would be required for that facility. As a taxpayer, she would like to better understand what the compelling reason is for change, why we feel it is necessary to move away from whatever is happening now, and why we feel it is necessary for this kind of capital outlay. Ms. Botcher stated that she would like to see a much more detailed analysis than the few numbers that she has seen floating around.
Regina McNamara, 974 Hillcrest Road, stated that she feels somewhat silly repeating her past message, but she is not positive her comments were recorded properly and therefore she is not sure the minutes would be accurate. She is back to continue to impress on the Village Council how very public the conversation about the HealthBarn renewal should be, but also to let them know what she has collected in the past few weeks. By now, the Village Council has received a signed petition by every single neighbor of HealthBarn but two, along Hillcrest and beyond. This totals 36 houses, and it is not the remaining houses along Andover refuse to sign, it was that her finding were so very obvious there wasn’t a need to continue. Additionally, to back it up, her OPRA request found that in the past year there has not been one complaint about HealthBarn but for two people.
Ms. McNamara stated that what she found was remarkable and inspiring. Several of these neighbors also sent the Village Council letters, whereas along with those who signed her petition were humble enough to admit to her that they were the loudest protesters of HealthBarn. They admitted to speaking at meetings and even raising their voices five years ago. They were incensed by what they believed was to be a big box gardening center with retail exchanges. Now, with the same fervor, they are expressing interest in keeping HealthBarn just as it is. These neighbors include PTA presidents, Village teachers, Doctors of education, media executives, medical doctors, realtors, and lifelong residents. Ms. McNamara stated that they have seen the positive addition HealthBarn has made to the neighborhood.
Ms. McNamara stated that the most inspiring detail of her findings is that so many neighbors were able to change their minds. They weren’t too proud to say it’s not what they thought and they appreciate it now. This speaks to their character and she admires them for it, in fact, she will remember this exercise she did for the rest of her life. She urged the Village Council to really examine what has transpired here at Habernickel, and to use it as an example of change once a decision has been made.
Yishane Lee, 235 Emmett Place, stated that she wanted to thank the Village Council for their time and service on behalf of the Village. She is shocked to hear that the Village is trying to overturn the results of the local referendum vote through the courts. She does not understand on what basis they would have to overturn election results and using taxpayer money to do so. She hopes the Village Council will address their reasoning for doing so during tonight’s meeting. This has terrible echoes of their costly misguided attempts to undo valid ballot results.
Ms. Lee stated that regarding the firing range, she is also alarmed by the feasibility assessment for constructing a firing range here no matter the exact location in town. She doesn’t understand why other existing local firing ranges cannot be used by our police force for training purposes. If the idea is to encourage the public to use it as a money maker, she is equally aghast. She also hopes that anyone on the Village Council who has ties to the Police Force would fully recuse themselves from this discussion.
Ms. Lee stated that finally, she was hoping they could publicize how to donate used furniture and other goods instead of throwing usable items away in bulk trash. On the east side on Wednesday mornings, it pains her to see how much is thrown away. They can share this information on Ridgewood’s 2021 calendar and use the Recycle Coach App that is popular among residents. They can cite the organizations that will come to your door and pick up your stuff, including the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Salvation Army, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
Catherine Bunza, 335 Jeffer Street, stated that she wanted to voice her support for the residency of Stacey Antine and her work for HealthBarn USA at Habernickel Park, here in Ridgewood. She has had the opportunity to extensively study public health interventions, investigating both their strengths and their weaknesses. HealthBarn is a model example for how nutritional educational programs should be implemented in various communities, including in our own Village. HealthBarn’s programs teach individuals about healthier food options, providing residents with the specific tool kit to visualize their food sources and how to implement it within their own community and spaces.
Ms. Bunza stated that HealthBarn embodies a common public health principle of meeting people where they are, creating a program that adapts to the individuals education level and improving their knowledge about culinary and nutritional guidelines. A program like HealthBarn is invaluable to our town. On a more personal note, Ms. Bunza stated that she has seen the direct impact of HealthBarn USA within her own family as her brother is a participant in one of the latest culinary programs for disabled young adults. With the help of this program, her brother has taken a completely different approach in how he prepares his meals recognizing how to incorporate more nutritional foods into his diet. After class, Ms. Antine sets aside time to sit down with him and work one on one to develop a tailored nutritional health program that meets him where he is.
Ms. Bunza urged the Village Council to reevaluate its position and keep HealthBarn USA, a valuable public health intervention where we need it the most, within our Village and Habernickel Park.
The following emails were received and read aloud by Donna Jackson.
Hans-Jurgen Lehmann, 234 Union Street, writes to the Councilmembers that in the recent past he has written to them through their Village emails regarding his concerns about HealthBarn. He has only received one response, which seems to contradict their positions of open communications and dialogue with residents. He is strongly urging this Village Council to move discussion of the HealthBarn to open session. HealthBarn is an exceptional asset of this Village and it would be a serious loss to so many residents who enjoy and value what HealthBarn offers regularly. He is concerned as a taxpaying resident that the Village is struggling financially with the new parking deck, the overrun on expenditures on the Schedler property, as well as the excessive expenditures of the former VFW building. Mr. Lehman wrote that HealthBarn brings in money to the Village with its rental payments as well as its arrangement with the Parks and Recreation Division of the Village. That income is in the range of $50,000 to $60,000 each year. Over the last 5 years the Village taxpayers have received close to $300,000 in income, income that he would be loath to give up. We must renew a 5 year lease with HealthBarn starting in 2021. Mr. Lehman wrote that failure to renew the lease constitutes harm to the public interest due to the loss of income.
Lisette Ramos, 351 Gilbert Street, wrote that she voted yes on One Village, One Vote. There were 2,200 votes more for it, she heard that she would lose her vote before she voted on social media platforms but she will lose this vote by the Village Council appealing in court to somehow reverse the overwhelming vote for yes for One Village, One Vote. That is undemocratic.
Ms. Ramos wrote that she has heard there is a proposed gun range. Not only would this be a waste of money, but also a huge safety issue. We choose to live here for our children and for them to get a good education and to feel safe. A gun range will make us feel less safe where it will be and the children who hang out in downtown Ridgewood. Also, it is a bad moment in time right now with a pandemic, we need our resources in town to be focused on this not that.
Elizabeth Kelly Martin, 374 Kensington Drive, wrote that they adamantly oppose this installation of a shooting range on Franklin Turnpike for any purpose. They are alarmed that the Village Council would consider installing a shooting range so close to a residential neighborhood, an elementary school, and a middle school.
David Marks, 475 Franklin Turnpike, wrote that he wishes to state in advance his opposition with the proposed budget award contract (Item 9C: 10), Feasibility Assessment for the Proposed Indoor Fire Arms Range. As a Village resident and taxpayer, knowing many of his neighbors, he will vehemently disapprove this proposal. He will listen to the meeting to gather more information.
Peter Von Halle, 48 Clinton Avenue, wrote that he and his wife have been residents of Ridgewood for over 30 years and during that time he has never been more outraged than to learn from reading in the Bergen Record that the current Village Council continues to apply valuable tax dollars attempting to maintain a system of voting that the residents of our town overwhelmingly rejected during the recent election. The Village Council’s conduct seems to be self-serving and obstructive in attempting to subvert the will of the residents of our town. His hope is that the Council will desist and work to implement the will of the people. Furthermore, from this resident’s perspective, the Council’s time and efforts would be better spent dealing with the real problems such as leaf piles that have languished for weeks and which pose a danger to pedestrians and drivers.
Mr. Von Halle wrote that while he is appreciative of those who give their time during the administration and governance of our town, in his opinion, the overriding objective for those that choose to serve should be to represent the interests of the town’s taxpaying residents. To that end, the vast majority of the town’s residents who voted on the recent referendum have made it abundantly clear that they wish for all elections to be moved to November and the Village Council should abide by those wishes and not work to subvert these wishes irrespective of any self-professed noble intentions.
Jill Williams, 763 Upper Boulevard, stated that she was calling to support the issue of lease renewal for HealthBarn USA at Habernickel Park. She lives nearby and has participated in a wide range of events and activities with HealthBarn, starting before they were in Ridgewood. She grew up in Ridgewood and has been happy to see Habernickel become such a lovely and productive part of the community, enjoyed by many different groups in the community. She believes HealthBarn is an ideal partner for the house, barn, and adjacent garden space at Habernickel Field. She is frequently in the park walking the dog or with her family and she is glad to see an event or class going on there as she walks past.
Ms. Williams stated that the students and instructors are always pleasant and respectful, not loud or disturbing which she knows was an initial worry before HealthBarn moved in. She has also never observed any issues surrounding parking stemming from HealthBarn, nor has she heard about any issues of other kinds in talking with friends who live closer to the park than she does. Her children have participated in numerous HealthBarn classes and events and she has enjoyed multiple sessions there with her Girl Scout Troops as well as adult events. She always learns something and enjoys her time there.
Ms. Williams stated that Stacey Antine and the HealthBarn have been consistently positive contributions to the neighborhood and the Ridgewood community as a whole. She is impressed with all Ms. Antine gives back to the ages within our community. She believes the HealthBarn messages and activities on nutrition, healing, and eating natural whole foods are fun, accessible, and important for our community. She respectfully asked that the Village Council renews the lease of HealthBarn USA at Habernickel Park and allows residents to continue to benefit from their innumerable services to the community. In addition, Ms. Williams requested that the Village Council move the discussion around this topic to the open session so that the public has the opportunity to understand and participate in discussion around this issue. She would also be interested to hear about potential alternatives for that space.
Sofia Dabestani, 143 Spencer Place, stated that she is a senior at Ridgewood High School, an employee at HealthBarn USA, and she also helped co-create the Change.org petition which now has over 512 signatures. She thinks that everyone in the Village Council should transparently handle the situation rather than in closed session and renew this lease as soon as possible. They should witness the tremendous positive support they would get to renew HealthBarn’s lease. She has worked at HealthBarn for over a year now and has grown up in Ridgewood while taking classes there. Without HealthBarn, she would not be as educated and healthy as she is now. Children at HealthBarn learn how to cook and live a healthy lifestyle. She has seen hundreds of children and how much of an impact they have on these families.
Sofia stated that if the Village Council did not renew the HealthBarn lease, they would be disappointing all of these children and families. If they have any children, she knows they can relate to wanting to see them happy and doing everything in their power to help their beloved objects and places stay in their lives. HealthBarn is one of these beloved businesses in the Village that is essential for the happiness of many families and our community. They do so much community service and COVID has highlighted how terrible it is for our seniors to be food insecure. There is not one reason why they should close HealthBarn by not renewing their lease. Sofia stated that HealthBarn has had nothing but a positive impact on everyone who visits, by not renewing the lease the Village Council would be letting down all of these children who are inspired by HealthBarn.
Sofia added that Stacey Antine is amazing and she has been there for Sofia many times. She knows how to have an amazing and successful business. She hopes the Village Council understands how truly upset she is, as so many residents are, by news that HealthBarn could be losing their lease and closing. She asked they support the petition and renew the lease immediately.
Matthew De Meulder, 53 Crest Road, stated that he moved to Ridgewood when he was in eighth grade which was difficult. The one thing he was able to do was go to HealthBarn classes and for that brief time on Saturdays, he didn’t feel like he had just moved here. He felt like part of the community and he was really able to grow in that class and be the person he wanted to be. Later, he asked Stacey for a job even though he had no experience and she took a chance on him and wanted to see him grow and succeed. He quickly moved up to being the lead teacher of that class and he saw so many kids affected by his teaching and the love that they had for cooking and the love that he had for them.
Matthew stated that HealthBarn is such an asset for this community because it helps people who are maybe not the typical person in Ridgewood. They may not be the typical sports person, but they are people from Ridgewood too, and everyone in Ridgewood deserves to do something that they love. He added that Stacey helps everyone out of the kindness of her heart and it would be a shame for Ridgewood to lose her, not only for the financial reasons but for the love of the Village and for our spirit. We have really been brought down by COVID-19 but that doesn’t mean that we have to lose our spirit as a Village. Matthew added that he has only lived here for four years and he has seen what an amazing place this is to be and part of that is because of HealthBarn. It is a place in Ridgewood that feels like home to him, and he added that the Village Council should consider renewing her lease and that they should bring the discussion into public session so that residents can see the fair, transparent process towards giving her that lease.
Nancy Currey, 260 Woodside Avenue, stated that she would like to mirror what a lot of people have said so effectively about HealthBarn. HealthBarn located in Habernickel Park has been a model tenant, has paid the rent, and fulfilled the capital improvements in the Habernickel building. The cash strapped Village should begin taking steps to recommit to a new lease with HealthBarn during the next few months rather than seeking to terminate the relationship, especially since they are approved by the New Jersey Green Acres, which is a minimum of a nine month process for approval.
Ms. Currey stated that HealthBarn currently benefits Ridgewood taxpayers $45,500 annually, add to that a 60/40 split with the Parks and Recreation programming which yields an additional approximately $5,000 per year. HealthBarn provides many invaluable educational and recreational services to the Village. Beyond the measurable financial community benefits, the HealthBarn also provides the following to Habernickel Park: added security; beautification; insurance; and thwarts the opportunity of a public nuisance if the Gate House were to be vacant.
Ms. Currey stated that the public-private model of HealthBarn will need to be replicated in other parks that house buildings such as Schedler unless the taxpayer wishes to be burdened with the cost of unoccupied park buildings. Clearly, this business model is something Ridgewood should be looking to expand rather than remove.
Lawrence Fine, 365 Woodbine Court, stated that he is a senior at Ridgewood High School and wanted to comment about the gun range proposal. He was concerned about it and is interested in finding out more information, adding that there has been very limited information so far and he was concerned about why we would need a gun range and about the specifics of having it in a residential area. At a time like this, he is asking why we would pour money into something like that when our schools and downtown could use a big boost.
Lawrence added that he was also concerned about the municipal election and the appeal of that. He feels that regardless of how people felt about it, the vote went a certain way.
Rob Levy, 84 Wildwood Road, stated that he has been a proud member of the Ridgewood community for almost 20 years. He felt compelled to speak at this Village Council meeting as HealthBarn is near and dear to his family. Two of his children are sports oriented and Ridgewood has provided wonderful opportunities for them, and his third child is not. When he and his wife were looking for places to move from New York they visited many of the typical communities and chose Ridgewood for a number of reasons. One of the key reasons they chose Ridgewood was because of the opportunities they felt the town would provide for their future family. The diversity of opportunity in a town like ours is something he thinks we should all celebrate. His son likes to read, cook, bake, write, and dream, and to his son, Ethan, HealthBarn has been a godsend.
Mr. Levy stated that his son spends a lot of time at HealthBarn, where he cooks, composts, and gardens, and he has helped Stacey develop and try out new recipes. He is guided and cared for by a wonderful group of people who care about him and he has met a fantastic group of friends there. His son has also become involved with the Healing Meals Program. Through this his son has learned the blessings of giving and charity. Mr. Levy asked that the Village Council please consider these children when making their decision. HealthBarn is a one of a kind place that serves an important part of our community and provides a healthy and safe outlet for many of our children. In his view, our town would be diminished without a place like this.
Jeanne Thiesen, 354 Fairfield Avenue, stated that she wanted to thank Councilwoman Perron for representing our residents by objecting to spending more of our residents’ tax revenue to appeal the One Village, One Vote case yet again. Judges have already ruled on this multiple times, and the very idea of our Village Council spending money to disenfranchise Ridgewood residents is appalling.
Ms. Thiesen stated that regarding HealthBarn, she is unable to understand where there is any argument because this has all been done behind closed doors. She has never heard any reason that our community would decide not to renew the lease. It maintains revenue as well as a significant charitable benefit to many people.
Ms. Thiesen stated that regarding the gun range, there is a lot to be learned about this and her initial reaction is that she doesn’t understand why they need to provide $5 million in capital expenses when our Village is in a situation where revenues and our budget is a concern. She hoped that they do not expend any money in learning more about the gun range until we figure out why we would want to do that. She would expect that a gun range would be part of shared services provided by the County. The limited knowledge that she has is that there are a lot of towns that use the currently provided gun range and so they would like to make it easier for our officers to go and complete their certification. For Ridgewood to be expending $5 million on something like this in the middle of a pandemic leaves a lot to be learned.
Deborah Liguori, 319 Meadowbrook Avenue, stated that she agrees with all of the comments she has heard about HealthBarn. In addition to that, since she heard about the lease not being renewed, she learned that a main reason for canceling the lease was complaints by two residents specifically about the buses. She understands these buses, at times, bring in children from underprivileged neighborhoods to Ridgewood so they can learn healthy habits and how to care for our environment. It seems to her that it would be shameful for us to make a decision that would, in effect, prohibit these kids from these invaluable benefits simply because these buses are seen as a nuisance by a few. Ms. Liguori stated that she lives directly across from Graydon Pool, and she sees buses roll in and out all summer long. She also lives across the street for a church and they get a lot of cars on the street. Buses and cars don’t bother her in the least when they offer children an opportunity to develop emotionally and socially for the better. She trusts many other residents would agree.
There were no additional comments from the public due to time.
- MANAGERS REPORT
Downtown for the Holidays – Ms. Mailander stated that the Village of Ridgewood’s Downtown for the Holidays Event has been revised due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing and face masks will be required. The event will be held this Friday, December 4th from 6:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. As you stroll on the sidewalks of the Central Business District we welcome you to view the Village Christmas tree at the corner of East Ridgewood Avenue and Broad Street which will already be lit. The trees at Memorial Park at Van Neste Square and Station Plaza will be decorated with festive ornaments donated by residents, businesses, groups, and organizations. Look at the beautifully decorated windows of our stores and restaurants. Ms. Mailander also encouraged people to stop by the Kids Korner to take home a drawing and win a prize. There will be music through the area, mimes and dancers from HeArt in Motion and Art in Motion Studio and Dance Theater in store windows. Santa Claus will be in Panico and the Grinch will also be appearing on various rooftops throughout the Central Business District. The Grinch can be found December 4th to December 21st in 28 of our local stores and eateries, and when you find him you will provide your contact information to be entered into a prize drawing. The deadline for entries is December 21st. Beginning December 10th, the lights of the menorah will shine at Memorial Park at Van Neste Square. There will be no lighting event or gathering this year.
Regional Community Drive Thru COVID-19 Testing at Bergen Community College – Ms. Mailander stated that testing will be done during the month of December and continue on a random basis. Testing is from 9:00 A.M. to 2:30 P.M. until December 30th. Preregistration is required, further details are on the Village website and also in the E-Notice that was sent out this afternoon.
Holiday Sales – Ms. Mailander stated that Saturday, December 5th, the Chamber of Commerce will hold holiday sales to help start your holiday shopping. There will be 27 local stores participating with lots of bargains.
Free Parking – Ms. Mailander stated that on December 5th, December 12th, and December 19th there is free parking in all parking lots, including the new Hudson Street Parking Garage. Street parking will remain at $1.25 an hour during this event. The parking area near the Christmas tree and on the other side by the entrance by MacMurphy’s are not considered parking lots and you still have to pay in those areas.
Toiletry Collection – Ms. Mailander stated that there is a toiletry collection for those in need which includes new, unused toiletries which can be dropped off through December 17th at the YMCA, Bookends, Araya Rebirth, Chestnut Catering, the Ridgewood Public Library, and the AT&T Store on Route 17. These will go to places such as Ridgecrest, Social Services, West Bergen Mental Healthcare, for those who need toiletries which are not covered by SNAP.
Hudson Street Parking Garage – Ms. Mailander stated that the Hudson Street Parking Garage is open on all levels. There are different requirements on each level, but every level is open to anyone to park there after 12 noon on any day. The first level is all three hour parking all the time. It is $1 per hour.
Complimentary Parking Spaces – Ms. Mailander stated that there are complimentary parking spaces in the Central Business District. These 15-minute spots are located on Oak Street, Chestnut Street, North Broad Street, off of East Ridgewood Avenue, and then also on Wilsey Square. These parking spaces are limited to 15-minutes only. They are free of charge to anyone and can be used to do a quick errand, pickup food, or visit a business. These spaces have been generously donated and sponsored by several local businesses and Ridgewood residents and those sponsors are acknowledged on the 15-minute parking signs.
2020 Leaf Collection Placement Schedule – Ms. Mailander stated that the leaf collection schedule is on the yellow postcard that was sent out and is also on the Village website. They are a bit behind because they never know when the leaves are going to fall, however, they urge residents not to put out leaves past your leaf placement date and crews will be coming afterwards.
Welcome Back to Ridgewood, New Jersey – Ms. Mailander stated that the Welcome Back to Ridgewood event has been put on hiatus until next year when the weather will be warmer.
Mobile Shredding Event – Ms. Mailander stated that they are going to have another mobile shredding event this Saturday, December 5th, from 9:00 A.M. to 12:30 P.M. or until the truck is full. The event is rain or shine, and is at the Graydon Pool Parking Lot. She urged everyone to get there early. The event is open to Ridgewood residents and businesses, and the limit is four cardboard boxes. No plastic bags will be accepted.
Mayor Knudsen stated that she read on social media that someone approached the shred on foot and they were not permitted to walk up to the truck. She asked if there was a rule about vehicles. Mr. Calbi stated that because of COVID they are requiring all of the residents to stay in their cars.
Cards of Joy – Ms. Mailander stated that this is writing letters and cards to those who may need extra cheer or are alone during the holidays and this is an easy way to make a big difference. They love it when the cards are detailed, thoughtful, and heartfelt. Completed cards can be dropped off at the Ridgewood Public Library by December 11th.
Upcoming Village Council Meetings – Ms. Mailander stated that the upcoming Village Council meetings are broadcast live on YouTube, streamed on the Village website, and on the public access channels. They will be on December 9th which is a Public Meeting at 8:00 P.M., January 6th is a Work Session at 7:30 P.M., and January 13th is a Public Meeting at 8:00 P.M. She asked residents to remember that the Public Meetings are where action is taken by the Village Council instead of discussion. There is a 7:30 P.M. meeting before a Public Meeting which anyone can attend, however, if you want your comments to be recorded in the main part of the meeting, wait until 8:00 P.M. for the Public Meeting.
- COUNCIL REPORTS
Fields Committee – Councilwoman Walsh stated that Fields Committee gave a quick update on the lighting at Maple Field. Since it is in a flood zone, there have been some extra precautionary measures taken with the electricity at the field. They did have to change a couple of things to make it safer, which includes redesigning the pedestal to make it higher. According to our Field Policy, to let the grass fields rest they close the fields after all fall sports are completed, but there is nothing to say they can’t use the turf fields. Since they have had some challenges with the sports, they are probably going to use some of the turf fields for an extended amount of time. They want to get kids doing their sporting events so that was something for people to be aware of.
Councilwoman Walsh stated that RBSA is still planning its Opening Day, which is typically the last Saturday in April. Lax Day is penciled in for May 8th. There were different changes to the winter schedules, so some of the other sports aren’t going to start for several months. She added that they also spoke about the vandalism and listed additional precautions that were being taken, including those by the Police Department.
Mayor Knudsen asked what the pedestals on the lights meant and if that increased the height. Councilwoman Walsh stated that the light stations have a pedestal and then the pole, so they had to raise and then reinforce the pedestal based on the regulations because of the floodway. Mayor Knudsen stated that they worked hard to make sure that those lights were a specific height, and she asked if that was increasing the actual height of the light. Councilwoman Walsh stated that was a good question and she would have to check that as they didn’t discuss the height. She was under the impression that the base was going to be made higher but then they would make the stem shorter to meet the height requirement. They are working off plans and specs and height is one of those specs. She added that she would find out because she didn’t have the exact answer to that question.
Open Space Committee – Councilwoman Perron stated that they met on November 17th and welcomed their new member, Fred Jubitz. They spoke about the Recreation and Open Space Inventory and whether that needs to be updated. They also talked about the Committee’s presence on the Village website and whether there could be pictures of our open spaces linked to that. Their student intern is looking into what other Open Space Committees do in other towns. Their next meeting will be January 21st at 7:00 P.M. Contact Dylan or Councilwoman Perron if you would like to attend.
Central Business District Advisory Committee – Councilwoman Perron stated that CBDAC met on November 12th and discussed the marketing initiative that she mentioned at the last Work Session. They are also working up an inventory of what sort of things our town already has versus what a Business Improvement District could provide for the Central Business District. This way they will understand what the gap is and what a Business Improvement District would be left to provide if they pursued that.
Councilwoman Perron stated that they are also going to be drafting a flyer for CBD employees to inform them of the parking in the Central Business District. Their next meeting will be December 10th at 8:30 A.M. Anyone who would like to attend should contact her.
Green Ridgewood – Councilwoman Perron stated that Green Ridgewood hasn’t met since the Village Council’s last meeting but will meet tomorrow night. Anyone who would like to attend should contact her or Dylan Hansen.
Chamber of Commerce – Councilwoman Perron stated that the Chamber of Commerce met and put out a new guide that went out to every household. They discussed whether Sunday closing laws could be loosened in Bergen County, which is not as easy as it might sound. They also are working on a Shop Local Card. She added that they discussed Downtown for the Holidays, and the success of the Pedestrian Mall and its effect on retailers.
Mayor Knudsen added that anyone who gets downtown to look at the windows, the Ridgewood Arts Council did the window display contest and the windows are absolutely magnificent. Not everyone who decorated their windows actually participated in the contest. She added that they are really excited about the programs for Downtown for the Holidays. The train tunnel has been decorated, as well.
Citizens Safety Advisory Committee – Councilwoman Reynolds stated that November CSAC meeting was canceled because of new COVID-19 restrictions. They have decided to do Zoom meetings from now on. Their first Zoom meeting is December 17th at 7:30 P.M. Anyone who would like to join can contact her or Dylan.
Planning Board – Councilwoman Reynolds stated that Planning Board met last night and they continue to hear the Hopper Ridge Condominium Association application. Questions were asked from the Board Members as well as several members of the public, but that will continue to the December 15th meeting.
Councilwoman Reynolds stated that the Building Department Director, Tom Yotka, who she has known for several years as she used the Building Department numerous times, and his absence will be a big loss for the Village of Ridgewood and she offered her condolences to his family.
Community Center Advisory Committee – Deputy Mayor Sedon stated that they meet tomorrow at 5:00 P.M.
Green Team – Deputy Mayor Sedon stated that they meet tomorrow at 7:00 P.M.
Ridgewood Arts Council – Deputy Mayor Sedon stated that they meet for the first time since the pandemic started at 7:30 P.M. tomorrow.
Community ACCESS Network – Mayor Knudsen stated that they met a week and a half ago and discussed the anticipated late spring opening of the Special Needs Housing Project. Many are very anxious to file applications and they remind everyone that United Way and Madeline House applications are through either one of those. There is a special needs 8 supported units and 8 independent units right in downtown Ridgewood. They also discussed the ROID grant that has been submitted and they are on target to have that approved hopefully. The ROID grant is Recreational Opportunities for Individuals with Disabilities.
- PRESENTATION – TREE INVENTORY
Deputy Mayor Sedon stated that several attempts had been made to get it done through grants and they have finally done it through a blend of grants and money allocated through the Village of Ridgewood. It takes into account many of the street trees in the Village, including all of the street trees on Village roads. It doesn’t take into account the street trees on County roads, in parks, or on private property. It tells them where the trees are located, what kinds of trees they are, what condition they are in, and gives ideas of where to plant trees.
Declan Madden, Village Arborist, worked with Ian Keller and Andrew Lowry, and the Shade Tree Commission. Deputy Mayor Sedon stated that he wanted to thank everyone who has been involved in this because it has been a long time coming. It will be a valuable tool for the Village to use going forward in not only maintaining our current tree stock but also in allowing us to expand it and replace it with suggestions on where to plant new trees.
Manish Shrimali shared a presentation with the Village Council. He thanked Deputy Mayor Sedon, Andrew Lowry, Ian Keller, and everyone from Nancy Bigos’s team who helped with this presentation. There were countless hours that went into putting this presentation together and countless days and weeks which went into collecting this inventory. He added that this is their attempt to understand Ridgewood’s urban forest structure and what the value is. This inventory will promote management decisions to improve the public health and environment quality. Mr. Shrimali stated that they had hired a third party who did the inventory analysis and collection. All data is stored on the Village of Ridgewood’s ESRI GIS database. The inventory was done from June 2020 through October 2020.
Mr. Shrimali stated that there was a total inventory of 9,025 trees and 192 stumps were documented. The overall condition of the tree population in Ridgewood is rated as fair. He added it is a high level so they can feel good about the amount and condition of trees that we have. There is a total of 135 species representing sixty genera were defined. The most common species are Maple, Oak, Zelkova, and Ash. Seventy percent of our trees are in the young and established category, which is 0-8” and 9-17” in diameter. The economic benefit is $1.1 million as the assessed value of this asset which is the collection of all the trees which the Village of Ridgewood owns. The trees save water, energy, and improve air quality. There are also greenhouse gas benefits and property value benefits, as well.
Mr. Shrimali stated that the Village trees are sufficiently diversified, and no particular species should be more than 20%. Maple is 21%, but the other species are very well diversified. They do not have a problem, with the minor exception of Ash trees. In terms of the age of trees, they assess it on a scale called DBH, Diameter at Breast Height. Village trees are very close to the ideal distribution. One place where they are lacking a little bit is younger trees, and it revalidates the strategy of continuing to plant younger trees at the higher annual rate than what they have been doing.
Mr. Shrimali stated that Ash tree population faces threats from emerald ash borer and this is particularly a problem in our town and towns around Ridgewood. A total of 618 ash trees were identified, most of them (87%) are in very good condition. This indicates that we don’t have an Ash tree problem yet, this is assessed based on the visual signs that were collected and documented during this tree inventory exercise. They are projecting out that if these trees have an infestation, it might be in the initial stages when visual indications are not present. They recommend an Ash tree management plan be developed to address this issue for the next 5 to 10 years. Because the inventory is not 100% complete, the full scope of the problem is yet to be determined.
Mr. Shrimali stated that planting trees is necessary to maintain and improve canopy cover and to replace trees that have been removed or lost to natural mortality or other threats. They are losing about 2.5% annually, which is about 250 trees every year. For the Village to maintain and improve tree canopy, they are recommending planting at least 350 new trees annually. The next steps include completing the tree inventory data collection, adding that they should collect a full picture including County roads and parks. Additional money should be allocated for 2021, with $20,000 as an approximation.
Mr. Shrimali stated that one of the most important pieces of this presentation is that they need to ensure that the maintenance of this tree inventory data is being completed in a very regular basis. He recommended that this be updated every week, and it should be part of the workflow that Parks and Recreation does when they are maintaining, removing, or planting new trees. Also, an ash tree management plan needs to be created. The Village should be planting at least 350 new trees annually and budget for maintenance of existing healthy trees keeping the return of our investment in focus.
Deputy Mayor Sedon thanked Mr. Shrimali for putting together and delivering the presentation as it was excellent. Councilwoman Perron thanked Mr. Shrimali for putting this in language the layman could understand as it makes it easy to understand. She watched the planting of one tree and it took hours, and that was just the tail end of the work because so much of the marking out of utilities so the planting wouldn’t cut lines had already happened. She didn’t realize how involved it is. In terms of making it more affordable for next year, should they be considering planting not only these young tress but also whips. Mr. Madden stated that they find it best to plant trees in the 2 to 2.5 caliper range because they stand up better and the whips tend to dry out a lot quicker than the larger sized tree. Councilwoman Perron reiterated to all of the lucky homeowners who had a tree planted in front of their house to please water it before the ground freezes.
Councilwoman Reynolds asked if there were things that could be done to prevent the emerald ash borer. Mr. Shrimali stated that the EAB bug infestation is treatable to some extent. Unfortunately, that treatment is required for a very long period until this species dies or passes through the region, which is projected out to about 15 to 20 years. Those treatments are applicable for 87% of our population, and those are not as expensive as removing the tree. It costs about $200 per year per tree to treat, as opposed to $2,000 to remove a tree. There are certain towns that have removed all of their Ash trees, while a couple of towns have tried to save the important trees with the treatment and address the weaker trees with removal. They are trying to work out what is the best approach for our town. Mr. Madden added that the trees that are not treated are 100% mortality.
Councilwoman Walsh stated that when the surveyors came down her street they looked very official, and people that she knows who got a tree planted are so happy. She asked about the eco -benefits and if there were any other grants that they could write based on this data as a support for them to get more grants that they are making sustainable solutions. Mr. Shrimali stated that the $20,000 was for the inventory of the remaining trees which are on County roads and parks. Regarding eco-benefits and how it can assist us with future grants, he absolutely agreed that was one of the key reasons for us to know what we have because most of the grants do expect you to know and be aware of your tree inventory before they will start giving you grants. This specific data shows the Village’s engagement and commitment towards maintaining the level and mix of tree canopy.
Councilwoman Walsh asked if each tree has its own signifier or code, and how is a tree that is removed updated in the database. Mr. Madden stated that each tree has a GIS point with an ID number, so they can pull up that point. When a tree is removed it then becomes a vacant site which is a future planting site. When a tree is planted later on it changes from a vacant site to a tree.
Mayor Knudsen asked about the fair rating for the overall tree population, and if the Ash trees factor into that is it creating a scenario where if they were to remove those out of this equation would our general tree population be effected. Mr. Shrimali stated that Ash trees are part of this percentage, but 7% of Ash trees are rated in good condition which means they are contributing to the good 20% not to more fair and poor, which is how it would change the dynamic. She added that it would be interesting to understand how those numbers shift if that particular tree were removed. She asked how the Ash trees in Ridgewood compared to other towns that had done an assessment. Mr. Keller stated that he didn’t know if there were any adjacent towns that have an inventory yet. He added that it is about seven years from the point that the tree is first infested to when the tree dies. In five years he would think that the majority of Ash trees would be in poor condition, with fair condition as a best case scenario.
Mayor Knudsen thanked them for the presentation and for all of their work. Councilwoman Reynolds asked if they don’t treat the Ash trees they are going to die, but if they treat the trees, can they be saved or is it just prolonging the inevitable. Mr. Keller stated that he just treated an Ash tree on his property and it is in good shape now, and if he keeps treating it until this wave of Ash borers moves through the area, it will be fine. All the trees that are not being treated will die, so there will be no hosts for that borer. Once there is no place for them to live then they leave the area, but that is 15-20 years in the future for us to be sure that it has worked its way out. Mr. Madden stated that EAB gets into the vascular system, or cambium of the tree and interrupts the plumbing of the tree by stopping its ability to take in water, sending it up to the leaves, and sending food to the roots.
Mayor Knudsen asked how they as a Village go out into the community at large and encourage people who may have Ash trees and are not aware that they should have those treated. Mr. Shrimali stated that there are many sites and free webinars available. There are lots of local institutions which are sharing this information, so they are happy to share that through various formats. Identifying an Ash tree to figuring out if you have a problem, but confirming if you have an infestation requires an arborist. Mr. Madden stated that there are tell-tale signs that an arborist would recognize immediately. The treatments for this tree last 2-3 years, so they have to be repeated for the 15 year cycle that they are predicting for this bug to pass through the area. Mayor Knudsen stated that she wouldn’t know an Ash tree, and maybe they should put something on the Village website so that people understand that they might find their tree has an infestation. Mr. Keller stated that they would be coming back to the Village Council with additional details and a more Ash tree specific presentation. EAB is around and there is no harm in treating it. If you want to keep a tree healthy you have to be on the front end of it, and there is a certain point where there is no point in treating it.
Deputy Mayor Sedon stated that there are grants which are pretty substantial, and East Rutherford got one which was $350,000 several years ago because they have all of the key pieces in place. The tree inventory is the last piece and now they have a good footing to get some of these larger grants which would cover tree maintenance and tree replacement. He added that they are in a good spot, and it’s not as bad as he thought it would be with the neglect that happened for a good number of years before they really started to refocus on trees and taking care of our canopy.
- Ridgewood Water
- Reject Bid – Annual Laboratory Analysis Services
Ms. Mailander stated that they went out to bid, one bid specification was picked up and one bid was received. Upon reviewing it, they discovered that the bid items didn’t have the correct quantities which would result in a shortfall if the project proceeded. The bid quantities have to be revised to represent the required unit counts for each task listed in the bid. Due to the fact that they require substantial revision they can reject the bid. Mr. Calbi is working on the specifications and will go out to bid again in late December or early January.
- Award Professional Services Contract – Hydrogeologic Consulting Services
Ms. Mailander stated that they have a proposal from WSP USA to provide professional services to Ridgewood Water in connection with the Capital Improvement Program Well Maintenance and Testing Programs. WSP’s services are necessary to support the well maintenance contracts and task order consultants that are providing services for Ridgewood Water’s wells and treatment systems. Together, WSP, our service contractors, the selected task order consultants, and Ridgewood Water, will work as a team to plan, design, and oversee rehabilitation and new well construction projects. This work will include replacement well drilling, well repairs, treatment plans, soil and well testing production plans and general services to assist with regulatory compliance and emerging contaminants.
Ms. Mailander stated that based on WSP’s unique familiarity with Ridgewood Water, Mr. Calbi is recommending award of a professional services contract to the firm WSP USA of Upper Saddle River, in an amount not to exceed $171,000 for the year 2021. Funding is in the Water Utility Operating Budget.
- Award Professional Services Contract – Design and Construction Administration of Twinney PFAS Treatment and Improvements
Ms. Mailander stated that in November of this year Mott MacDonald completed the Ridgewood Water PFAS Treatment Feasibility Project for Twinney Treatment Facility (TF). The study reviewed various treatment alternatives for removal of PFAS contamination at the Twinney TF. At this time, Ridgewood Water would like to proceed with the design of PFAS treatment at the Twinney TF. What will be included is the design of the PFAS treatment, other necessary facility improvements, design and construction administration, and inspections for two phases of work. The facility improvements include necessary electrical, mechanical, HVAC and architectural upgrades. Based on their past project experience with Ridgewood Water as well as their working knowledge of our system, the recommendation is to award a professional services contract to Mott MacDonald in Iselin, in an amount not to exceed $242,300. Funding for this project is in the Water Capital Budget.
- Award Additional Contract Year – Servicing and Repair of Potable Water Pumping Facilities
Ms. Mailander stated that the Village Council awarded a two year contract in 2019 to Wm. Stothoff Company, Inc., for Servicing and Repair of Potable Water Pumping Facilities for Ridgewood Water. Ridgewood Water would like to extend it for one additional year. The Servicing and Repair is a unit price service for various repairs and replacements on the water system supply, treatment and distribution equipment contained within the well houses, transfer stations, treatment buildings and booster stations. The recommendation is to extend the current contract with Wm. Stothoff Company of Flemington in an amount not to exceed $500,000 for 2021. Funding is in the Water Utility Operating Budget.
Councilwoman Walsh stated that on page 2 they are saying that the calculated cost is $237,840, so why would they put a not to exceed of $500,000. Mr. Calbi stated that the amount on that sheet was the value used to calculate who would get the award. It is a service contract so they list a series of items and then provide a calculation so they can determine the low bidder. On the basis of work they have been doing, they are recommending $500,000. Councilwoman Walsh asked why they didn’t just want to drop the amount to $250,000. Mr. Calbi stated that in the past two years they reached $400,000 in 2019 and $500,000 for this year. They already have five facilities that are going to be up for replacements in 2021, so he would imagine they are going to reach that number again next year.
Councilwoman Perron asked if the Water Utility has its own temporary budget for the year. Ms. Mailander stated that going into 2021, they all get a temporary budget. Councilwoman Perron asked about the part where the CFO certifies that there are funds available in the temporary budget, can it specify the Water Utility’s Temporary Budget. Ms. Mailander stated they would do that.
- Award Contract Under State Contract – Chlorine and Phosphate Analyzers
Ms. Mailander stated that this is to purchase chlorine and phosphate analyzers under state contract which are necessary to monitor and report levels of sodium hypochlorite and poly-orthophosphate being fed into the water system. They are connected to the SCADA system, which controls the flow and treatment process. The utility is required to be able to monitor levels on a 24/7 basis. The recommendation is to award to Hach Company of Loveland, CO in an amount not to exceed $87,671.37. This will come out of the Water Utility Capital Budget.
- Award Contract Under State Contract – Aerial Mapping
Ms. Mailander stated that Ridgewood Water’s infrastructure capital plan includes present and future investment in new distribution pipelines, service connections and improvements for PFAS treatment consisting of raw water pipelines and new treatment plants. Mott MacDonald has recommended that we procure the mapping for these improvements via aerial flight to save the cost of individual surveys for every pipeline and site improvement project. Additionally, the mapping could serve as a basis for the Village and three other service area municipalities to improve their tax map parcel base, which in turn can be shared back to Ridgewood Water to improve our customer records in the GIS. The Village Engineering Department can use the mapping for Village project design and planning. A fee schedule can also be developed for the sale of the information to design firms or municipalities for their planning or engineering.
Ms. Mailander stated that the recommendation is to award this under state contract to Civil Solutions, of Hammonton, in an amount not to exceed $104,940. The funding is in the 2020 Water Capital budget.
Mayor Knudsen asked what the timeline is on this. Councilwoman Walsh asked if there be any interconnection with all of the GIS mapping that they are doing. Mr. Calbi stated that the timeline is going to be a March flight, early spring, before there are any leaves on the trees. Regarding the interconnection, this will merge into every bit of what they are doing right now and anything they want to do in the future. They won’t pick up individual trees, but they will be able to overlay that with the mapping. The Engineering Department can do their planning for new road paving and inventory. This would also serve as the basis for making tax maps digital, which can then be shared back to the Water Utility. This will leverage the Village and the utility doing many other things.
Mayor Knudsen asked when after the flyover, when do you receive the material. Mr. Calbi stated that he would get back on that. After it is flown, they take it back and process the images, but he would let her know. Mayor Knudsen stated that they should also look into selling this data to other municipalities and have a schedule of fees. Mr. Calbi agreed.
Councilwoman Perron stated that she didn’t understand if the pipes are underground, how does an aerial flyover tell you what is underground. Mr. Calbi stated that it doesn’t show anything underground, but it does show the water valves and the hydrants. The main purpose for us is now that our infrastructure is aging we will be able to use this mapping to plan out the replacement.
- Award Contract – Year Two Servicing and Repairing of Electric Source
Ms. Mailander stated that this is the second year of a two-year contract to be awarded to the original sole bidder, Vanore Electric Inc. of Hackensack in an amount not to exceed $250,000. This is in the Water Utility Budget.
- Award Contract – Year Two Landscaping Services
Ms. Mailander stated that this is the second year of a two-year contract for landscaping services to the lowest responsible bidder, Clarke Moynihan Landscaping & Construction of Andover, in an amount not to exceed $100,000. This is in the Water Utility Operating Budget.
Councilwoman Perron asked if Mr. Calbi could give some examples of where landscaping is necessary for the utility. Mr. Calbi stated that this contract is mostly for maintenance, including mowing, leaf collection, cleaning of gutters, and there is a small allowance for new plantings but the main part of this service is the lawn maintenance. There are approximately 30 acres of lawn that is cut.
Councilwoman Perron asked about the two that were just talked about, can they specify the budget. Ms. Mailander stated that they would do that going forward in all of them.
- Award Contract – Year Two Furnishing and Delivering of Sodium Hypochlorite Solution
Ms. Mailander stated that this is the second year of a two-year contact to the lowest responsible bidder which is Miracle Chemical Company of Farmingdale in an amount not to exceed $111,735. This comes from the Water Utility Budget.
- Award Contract – Year Two Line Stop and Valve Insertion Services
Ms. Mailander stated this is the second year of a two-year contract for Line Stop and Valve Insertion Services to the original sole bidder, Carner Brothers of Roseland in an amount not to exceed $200,000. Funding is in the Water Utility Operating Budget.
- Award Contract – Year Two Pipe, Appurtenances and Service Materials
Ms. Mailander stated this is the second year of a two-year contract for the provision of Pipes, Appurtenances and Service Materials to the lowest bidder per category. The total not to exceed is $415,000 which is provided in the Water Utility Operating Budget. In 2020 Water Works Supply Company was purchased by Core & Main LLP of Pompton Plains, which is honoring the contract and prices bid by Water Works Supply.
- Award Contract – Garrett Place Watermain Project Planning
Ms. Mailander stated that in late July, Ridgewood Water completed the construction of a new water main on Garrett Place, Midland Park, to address water quality concerns. Upon completion, the new pipeline trench was restored temporarily and allowed to set for any settlement. At this time, Ridgewood Water would like to perform final paving restoration on half of the roadway. The Borough of Midland Park desires to pave the entire street and requested that Ridgewood Water procure services to perform the full pavement and the Borough would reimburse the Village for half the cost.
Ms. Mailander stated that three quotations were solicited for the final milling and paving and the low quote was from R.M. Tuit Paving and Trucking, LLC of Ringwood with a quote of $34,080. Half is paid by Ridgewood Water and half is paid by the Borough of Midland Park. Funding is available in the 2020 Water Capital Budget.
- Award Contract – 2021-2022 Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Laboratory Analysis Services
Ms. Mailander stated that Ridgewood Water went out to bid and accepted those bids on November 17th. One bid specification was picked up and one was received. The sole bidder is Aqua ProTech, Inc. of Fairfield. It is the first year of a two-year contract in an amount not to exceed $82,600. The funds are in the Water Utility Operating Budget.
- Award Contract – Elks Club Interior & Exterior Partial Demolition
Ms. Mailander stated that Ridgewood Water has received three quotes to perform demolition services at the Elks Club. The demolition has been recommended by RSC Architects to proceed in advance of the construction bid. They will remove all non-structural portions of the Elks Club building and prepare the spaces for the proposed renovation. All partition walls, drop ceilings, fixtures and appurtenances will be removed and disposed of by the contractor. The lowest quote is Adamo Brothers Construction Inc. of Ridgefield, in an amount not to exceed $40,500.
- Award Contract – 2021 Tree Maintenance Services
Ms. Mailander stated that on November 13th, Ridgewood Water accepted unit bid price proposals for tree maintenance services. One bid specification was picked up with one bid being received. The sole responsible bidder for the first year of a two-year contract is Downes Tree Service of Hawthorne in an amount not to exceed $80,000. Funding is in the 2021 Water Utility Budget.
- Award Contract – 2021 Cold Water Meters
Ms. Mailander stated that on November 13th, Ridgewood Water received bid proposals. Two bid specifications were picked up with one bid being received. Prices quoted in the bid included a broad range of meters, meter components, and meter related supplies. Ridgewood Water keeps meters in stock for replacements and upgrades, and new installations at customer locations. From time to time they also need to replace large meters that measure our output at our facilities or at interconnections with other utilities. The recommendation to award to the sole responsible bidder the first year of a two-year contract to Rio Supply, Inc. of Sicklerville in an amount not to exceed $214,642.50. Funding is in the Water Utility Budget.
- Award Contract – Change Order #1 Professional Engineering Services for Farview and Eastside Station Improvements
Ms. Mailander stated that this was awarding Change Order #1 for professional services at Farview and Eastside Station Improvements. The award was given to Boswell Engineering for the engineering services for a total price of $150,000. At this time, an additional amount of $5,000 is required to complete work beyond the original professional engineering services contract scope. Change Order No. 1 is required in order to coordinate additional work that was not part of the base contract. Boswell Engineering will need to meet and coordinate with the Fire Official and Signal Department for the facilities compliance and alarms to be sent to Central Dispatch. Plans and specs will be amended to reflect the new fire alarm control panel to be installed at the facility and Boswell will provide all coordination of the new equipment with the award of contract. The recommendation is to award Change Order No. 1 to Boswell Engineering of South Hackensack in the amount of $5,000. The funds are in the Ridgewood Water Capital Budget.
Councilwoman Walsh stated that when she was on the Library Board, the topic came up regarding contracts that mentioned hours; however, they don’t provide you with the number of meeting hours. We don’t know what was included in this bid. Rich Calbi agreed and has had the same experience. He will get the number for the Council.
- Parking - NONE
- Budget Transfers
Ms. Mailander stated that this is an annual resolution where they transfer money from departments with money that has not been spent to those departments that don’t have enough money for purchases that they need to make.
Councilwoman Perron stated they just got the explanation packet today, and there is listed $48,000 to be transferred from group health insurance. She asked where that money is going. She added that on the explanation page under Water Operating Budget, Number 2 says that annual appropriation was made in accordance with the 2020 Budget. Mr. Rooney stated that the first question regarding the $48,000, items are not specific, and it could be composed of a few different items. That was the amount in the account that they could have used for five or six other accounts. The answer to the second question is that he deleted the need to make that transfer and he forgot to take it off the explanation page.
- 2021 Cash Management Plan
Ms. Mailander stated that this is used as a guide for depositing and investing Village funds and must be done every year.
- Award Professional Services Contract – Software for Finance Department
Ms. Mailander stated that this annual resolution was authorizing the annual software support contract with Edmunds & Associates. They are the sole provider of the software covered in this contract. The contract covers support on the following application: Tax Collection, Financial Accounting, Payroll, Escrow Accounting, Human Resources and Accounts Receivable.
- Award Contract – Purchase of Lawn Mower for Water Pollution Control Facility
Ms. Mailander stated that there is a need to replace the lawn mower used to maintain the grounds at the Water Pollution Control Facility (WPCF). The current mower is a 1998 model and after 22 years, has seen better days. They found a suitable replacement from Storr Tractor Company under the Bergen County Cooperative purchasing program for $20,222.61. They would like to use residual operating expense funds in the 2020 Budget for the WPCF. Jim Fells, the Supervisor, has been very frugal with their budget and they do have enough to cover this expenditure.
Councilwoman Reynolds asked if the mower would be brand new or used. Ms. Mailander stated that it would be brand new.
Councilwoman Perron asked if the existing mower works, adding that she communicated with Mr. Rutishauser, Village Engineer, and he said that it was mostly in the shop. She would like to see a comparison of what it would cost to hire somebody to do this landscaping just for a year. It sounds like a lot of money to her for a mower that would only be used at the WPCF. If they can conserve, she would rather do that. She added that she thinks Sustainable Jersey gives a grant for “no mow” areas in a municipality because it is better for the environment and she would like to look into that.
Ms. Mailander stated that they do have to keep it maintained because the DEP comes in and inspects and if they don’t keep it maintained there will be an issue. She knows that they are looking into how much it might cost for landscaping. Also, they are looking at possibly a different model that might cost a bit less and Mr. Rutishauser should have that information by the end of the week. They can continue this discussion to January and will bring that information back at the work session in January and then they can discuss it further at that time.
Mayor Knudsen stated that 22 years on a lawn mower and that amount of acreage it is definitely more bang for the buck. Ms. Mailander added that the only downside is that he has it in the 2020 Budget and so if they don’t spend it now they would have to appropriate it in the 2021 Budget.
Councilwoman Walsh stated that she knows that Parks and Recreation was looking to get a mower, so what is the reason they don’t have Parks and Recreation mow the WPCF. Ms. Mailander stated that they have acres and acres of parkland to mow and it takes them a full time person to do that. Councilwoman Walsh stated that if Parks and Recreation really needs the mower, and they can have two mowers for them and they can also be mowing WPCF. Ms. Mailander stated that they don’t have the staff to be able to do it. Councilwoman Walsh stated that it didn’t seem that they can’t share a service within our own town for lawn mowing. Mr. Rooney stated that they have limited personnel, so even though they have the equipment they would have to hire someone else to be able to operate that equipment because it requires they must complete full time Parks and Recreation mowing.
Councilwoman Walsh asked who the person is doing the mowing at the WPCF. Mr. Rooney stated that it was a WPCF employee. He added that to Mayor Knudsen’s point, the cost of this mower if you went out to a maintenance agreement for 20 years, you are going to pay significantly more than the cost of this mower. Mayor Knudsen added that she can’t imagine that they just wouldn’t get the mower, especially given the potential for issues with the DEP. Mr. Rooney added that they have learned that they have to be one step ahead of the DEP because the fines they levy are so significant.
Councilwoman Walsh stated that to Councilwoman Perron’s point, do they need the grassy area there. If it is an issue with DEP that they have to keep the grass mowed, can they gravel it. Ms. Mailander stated that it was in a floodplain, so she didn’t know. Mr. Rooney added that was the issue, they may require the grassy area that has to be maintained. There are reasons why they have the groundwork established the way it is. Mayor Knudsen stated that they are also a neighbor at the facility to another municipality and she thinks they have an obligation to maintain their property. Councilwoman Walsh suggested planting something that doesn’t need to be trimmed or maintained to meet the requirements. Councilwoman Reynolds asked how big the area was. Councilwoman Perron stated that it was 11 acres. Councilwoman Reynolds asked if they could allow trees to grow. Ms. Mailander stated that would take time and the trees would cost money, too. There was additional discussion. Mayor Knudsen added that they are always confronted with DEP and maintenance issues and they want to be a good neighbor.
Mayor Knudsen stated that she was good to put it on the agenda, especially given that they have the funding and the suitable replacement is there currently. Ms. Mailander asked how Deputy Mayor Sedon and Councilwoman Reynolds felt about this. Deputy Mayor Sedon stated that if they get another 22 years out of this it is less than $1,000 to maintain 11 acres of grass. If they can find a landscaper that can do it at that rate for the next 20 years then he says go for it but he doesn’t think that is ever really going to happen, so he says go for it. Councilwoman Reynolds added that she was okay with it, too. Ms. Mailander stated that they would put it on the agenda for next week, and they would see about that one model that is possibly a little less money.
Councilwoman Walsh asked about the one person they have at WPCF that is doing the mowing. She was curious about what his hours were costing them to mow. She was curious to know what the total cost is with the cost of his hours on top of the cost of the mower. Ms. Mailander stated that she would find out.
- Award Contract – Water Pollution Control Facility Façade Repairs
Ms. Mailander stated that they solicited written quotes for façade repair work. They received two informal written quotes and numerous declinations to repair the building façade at the plant. Mr. Rutishauser recommends the award of the work to ConQuest Construction, Inc. of Westwood in the amount of $37,000.
Councilwoman Perron stated that she didn’t quite understand what the problem was with the façade that it needs repair. Ms. Mailander stated that it is going to remove the front veneer wall from the right side corner, and all debris will be carted away. They will remove and replace approximately 200 square feet of masonry block along the front façade of the building. The block will be a split face block of standard color. She added that the façade itself is crumbling and so it needs to be repaired. It is general upkeep as the Village has to maintain its properties.
Councilwoman Reynolds added that there was also a door replacement. Ms. Mailander stated that was coming up. Councilwoman Perron added she didn’t understand what happened with the doors, did someone drive into them. Ms. Mailander stated that the doors were rusted.
- Award Contract – Yard Waste Disposal
Ms. Mailander stated that due to Tropical Storm Isaias the Village had a huge number of trees and branches down. This is the third award for disposal of the material. Quotes were solicited from several vendors. This is the second award to B and B in the amount of $32,000. The previous awards to them were $50,000 and $30,000. The good news is that for grass disposal, they had budgeted $50,000 based on previous years; however, they only spent just under $5,000. They are going to use the money for grass clippings to dispose of yard waste. Mr. Rutishauser advised that the Village is prohibited from disposing of our yard waste materials in our leaf compost facility by our permit from the NJDEP.
Councilwoman Reynolds asked if the grass clippings were so low this year because more people are just leaving the clippings on their lawn. Ms. Mailander stated that she didn’t know, but she could look into it.
- Award Contract – Street Sweeping Disposal
Ms. Mailander stated that this is screened street sweepings and they need to dispose of it in accordance with the Village’s NJDEP Tier A Municipal Stormwater General Permit. The award is to a solid waste receiving facility to dispose of the material. Up until this time, they had stockpiled the street sweepings, but the pile has gotten so large that the materials had to be screened to remove deleterious materials. The cost is not to exceed $4,247.46, and it is to IWS Transfer Systems of NJ in Teaneck.
- Award Contract – Replace Doors at WPC
Ms. Mailander stated that the doors go to the grit screening building of the Water Pollution Control Facility are severely corroded and partially inoperable. In that case it is $16,000 to Jay’s Construction, LLC of Paterson for the installation of the doors. The Village will still have to purchase the doors separately.
Councilwoman Walsh clarified that amount was just for the installation. Ms. Mailander stated that it was for the removal and then the installation. Funds are already available in the Capital Budget from last year.
- Award Contract – Preparation of 2021 Village Council Meeting Minutes
Ms. Mailander stated that they go out for this every year, she has them give a proposal as to price per page as well as prepare a set of synopsis minutes. Then they are evaluated on the quality of the synopsis minutes as well as the price per page. They received one valid proposal back by the deadline. The second proposal didn’t give a price per page and didn’t continue the synopsis minutes to the designated point. The price received in the sole valid proposal is from Caitlin Powers of Ridgewood, for $9 per page. She has prepared our minutes since 2018 and her price has remained the same since that time. They are detailed and comprehensive, so she recommends the award of contract at a price of $9 per page to Caitlin Powers.
Councilwoman Walsh stated that there were a couple of different programs that she has been using for other things that she is working on and there is a Closed Captioning option, so when she speaks a presentation, it is immediately creating a closed caption dialogue of what she is saying. She is wondering if any other municipalities are using a similar program. The only thing she has to do is fine tune someone’s name. Mr. Hansen stated that there are a lot of different voice recognition software programs out there that pick up speech, but the problem is that it wouldn’t be able to decipher who is speaking, and it would just be a continuous dialogue. It would give you a general text to speech but you would still have to have someone go through it, but they are getting more and more accurate. He added that they would look around to see if any other municipalities were using anything like that. Ms. Mailander added that she would put something out to her association.
Councilwoman Walsh stated that right now, if someone is watching the meeting they don’t get anything out of it until the minutes come out. Mr. Hansen stated that the YouTube channel does closed captioning, and as long as the text is clear it will show you the text.
- Award Professional Services Contract – Feasibility Assessment for the Ridgewood Indoor Firearms Range
Ms. Mailander stated that the Village Council had looked at the possibility of doing an Indoor Firearms Facility in Glen Rock. RSC Architects had prepared a plan for that site and it was not to exceed $10,000. In exploring other options, it was a possibility to look at the Park & Ride Facility. In order to determine what a firearms facility might look like on this property, an additional $5,000 is needed to complete the Village’s request. RSC did the work in late 2019, early 2020 and has not yet been paid. This is to pay them the $5,000 for the work they have already done and completed. The Village Council hasn’t proceeded with any of these plans and it’s not considering them at this time. She added that she is surprised that they had so many comments about it because they haven’t discussed it and there has been no consideration of it.
Mayor Knudsen stated that her recollection is that we had this conversation some time ago and it was specific to the Glen Rock location based on information that there were issues finding suitable locations for a variety of Law Enforcement Agencies in terms of qualifying and practicing. She doesn’t recall them ever requesting anything about an alternative location ever coming up in discussion. Ms. Mailander stated that they internally looked at it because the first location originally looked like a lower amount than it turned out to be, and so they were thinking where else they might put it where they wouldn’t be in another town and need their buy-in. She added that it is a convenient location for many other municipalities, but it was really an internal discussion on other locations and something they decided to take a look at. It was never brought to the Village Council because it looked like it was going to be a significant amount of money, much more than they were initially told it was going to cost.
Councilwoman Walsh stated that she was going to agree with Mayor Knudsen, she was unaware until she got her packet of this, so when she read it she was confused as to why this hadn’t come up. She was against building the firing range to begin with. The conversation had stopped at the Village Council and they never saw anything else, which is why it took her off-guard. Deputy Mayor Sedon stated that he thinks it should have probably come to the Village Council if there were additional expenditures involved because the initial conversation only involved the Glen Rock location. Mayor Knudsen added that to her recollection, she doesn’t know that she has ever seen any of the materials that were generated from this. Ms. Mailander stated they could provide it.
Mayor Knudsen stated that it was such a discussion over this item, and the number of $5 million was being floated around, she asked where people would get this information. Ms. Mailander stated that number was never even given to the Village. Councilwoman Walsh stated that it was an old article in the paper from when they first discussed it. Mayor Knudsen stated that it is important for the public to know that sometimes items wind up on an agenda but they are merely conversation and discussion, and it is not something that just happens.
- Award Contract – Computer Software and Hardware for the Public Access Channel/Video Streaming
Ms. Mailander stated that the Village does televising through Swagit, through the interlocal purchasing system. Swagit is located in Plano, Texas and it is in an amount not to exceed $18,000.
- Declare Surplus – Solid Waste 2003 CCC Packer
Ms. Mailander stated that this is to declare surplus a 2003 Crane Carrier Packer. The vehicle service records reveals it has 123,854 miles and 24,145 engine hours. The life expectancy of these trucks are 7-10 years, or any time after 10,000 engine hours. Crane Carrier has also gone out of business and we are finding it increasingly difficult to find parts. It is also not compliant with the new emission laws. There are various issues with the truck, including the hydraulic fluid, heating core, windshield wiper motor, and passenger side floor.
Councilwoman Perron asked if they would be looking to replace the truck. Ms. Mailander stated that they replace garbage and recycling on a regular basis, with about one to two vehicles per year. Mr. Calbi stated that this vehicle has already been replaced and the new vehicle was received this year.
- Declare Surplus – Fire Equipment
Ms. Mailander stated that this surplus is various items from the Fire Department. They are no longer in service and they have been replaced with up to date equipment. They will put them on Gov Deals with the caveat that it cannot be used for firefighting.
- Stop Signs at Shelton Road Approach to Steilen Avenue
Ms. Mailander stated that this is for stop signs at Shelton Road and Steilen Avenue. Several residents asked the Village to take a look at it. The concern is that cars heading west bound and then turning at Steilen are not exercising sufficient caution at the intersection. After looking at it, Mr. Rutishauser noticed that there was a poor line of sight to the left at the northbound traffic on Steilen, and he is recommending installation of a stop sign at that location.
Councilwoman Reynolds asked if they needed to notify neighbors that there was going to be a stop sign. Ms. Mailander stated that there was no reason to, but it was the residents on Steilen who requested it.
- Council Appointed Boards and Committees – Funding and Fundraising
Mayor Knudsen stated that regarding the Village Council appointed Board and Committees, in 2016 she became the liaison for Community ACCESS Network which is our special needs committee and they were embarking on the ACCESS weekend and the group was collecting funds to support the program and they asked at the time who Valley Hospital writes the check to. Unbeknownst to her, ACCESS was taking in funds, but some of the banks wouldn’t give donations unless they were a 501(c)3 and they were taking funds through the Learning Services Home and School Association. She said at the time, that there was no ability to raise funds to facilitate ACCESS weekend, and at the time they had a Community Center Foundation but she was told the funding couldn’t go through there. The Ridgewood Arts Council was also grappling with funding issues, as well. She was frustrated because nobody could be doing fundraising, so suggested an umbrella foundation that could help facilitate the betterment of the community.
Mr. Rogers stated that he looked at whether or not municipalities can set up non-profits to use to raise funds for any of their committees, and the answer was no. He and Mr. Rooney looked at it and they understood that they were unable to do that so it was brought back to the Village Council in 2015/16. Again the issue was raised in 2018, and the answer was still no. There was discussion among the Councilmembers as to what they can do to set up a mechanism to raise funds for Boards and Committees, and in working with Former Mayor Hache and the Deputy Mayor, they found that the Village cannot in any way participate in the collection of funds and in the determination or decision as to where any of those funds can go.
Mr. Rogers stated that the Village Council wanted him to find out how to set up some type of a mechanism to set up the structure for that and that was his involvement at that time. Mayor Knudsen stated that there was an interest in understanding the Ridgewood Community Foundation, which is what ultimately came of that effort. It is important to understand from her perspective that they couldn’t have an ACCESS weekend without the ability to accept funds from different banks and people who were interested in donating. That was the reasoning behind all of this. Mr. Rogers stated that through the beginning of 2019, he had contacted an accountant to set up a 501(c)3 entity and it was turned over to the accountant with that name. Some people were asked to be on a Board of Trustees for the Foundation. It is still awaiting approval for working with the accountant for its non-profit status to be approved by the IRS.
Mayor Knudsen stated that once everything is established, that is exactly how it would work if Boards and Committees have an interest in grant opportunities. It allows them to facilitate certain programming that otherwise wouldn’t happen.
Councilwoman Walsh asked about Earth Day as an example. Any monies that are earned at Earth Day comes to the Village and the money that is there can be used for trees or any other initiatives, so in that instance it works very well. The money goes into an account for Earth Day, and the same thing happened with the Arts Council. She didn’t even know who the Board of Trustees were, so she doesn’t know how that got constituted, but is the intent that all of those monies are going to go to this. Mayor Knudsen asked if the Earth Day money goes to those commissions or does it go to Parks and Recreation. Deputy Mayor Sedon stated that for things like that there is a trust fund set up but it is not a 501(c)3. So, really the big fundraiser is Earth Day but you charge the vendors a fee to participate and then they do whatever they want, so it is not a tax deductible donation. The money goes into the trust fund and then the Board determines how to use the funds. In this instance, where a bank wanted to make a donation and it had to be a 501(c)3 then they couldn’t make a donation to Green Ridgewood.
Mayor Knudsen stated that she thinks any fundraising that a 501(c)3 would do, since that money is not within our control, they would then make grants to ACCESS, or would decide how they fundraise and what they are underwriting. The Village money has nothing to do with it because it is a completely separate entity. Councilwoman Walsh stated that the Village Council would have no control, so if the funds are being donated, the Board of Trustees may say they don’t want to give any to ACCESS. She was trying to figure out what their part is in it other than knowing that this other group is setting up a 501(c)3. Mayor Knudsen stated that she was confused too, because she is not sure how the Community Center Foundation operates because its mailing address is The Stable. There was additional discussion about the Community Center and the Foundation. She suggested bringing it back later to discuss as it may be something worth looking into.
Councilwoman Perron stated that she was very unclear about what would happen when and if the IRS approves the non-profit status, and she thinks Councilwoman Walsh may have been asking the same thing. If a committee raises money and it goes through this 501(c)3 is there a guarantee that committee then gets to use that money for its projects. Also, she doesn’t understand how the people who were asked to be Trustees were chosen and who they are. Mayor Knudsen stated that she didn’t know who the Board of Trustees is but they could find that out. She thinks that maybe whenever the accountant is organized maybe there are By-Laws about how the programming would work and they could be informed.
Councilwoman Perron asked if there was a situation where a donor said they would pay for flyers whoever is making them, is that a direct payment and does that matter at all. Mayor Knudsen stated that she didn’t know and that was a good question. They had the Welcome Back to Ridgewood event and there were a lot of donations and Councilwoman Walsh raised a similar question. Sometimes it is difficult to understand who is making the donations and how it is being handled. Maybe during budget hearings they could have a discussion about how that money comes in and is flagged. For her, she feels they didn’t have a concrete understanding of how money is coming in and how those donors are then treated.
Mr. Rogers stated that his understanding of the intent of the Council was that the non-profit foundation would be the source for people if a particular Ridgewood ad-hoc committee wanted to do something that required funding then they could approach the Foundation and make a request. If they were trying to ask people for donations, it would be the Foundation that would be the source for that. If someone made a donation with a specific purpose in mind, they would make that donation through the Foundation with it directed to that particular committee.
Mr. Rooney stated that for clarification, every not-for-profit that is set up has a purpose, so whatever the purpose is for this foundation they would only be able to raise funds to direct them for that use. If someone wants to make a donation, they can restrict their donation. So, if there is a Project ACCESS and he wants to donate $100, he can say to the foundation here is $100, only spend it on Project ACCESS. He added that the foundation is required to segregate general donations from those that are restricted and those general donations have to be used for purposes that the foundation was set up for. Mayor Knudsen added that she did recall that maybe there was that specificity that you had to make that donation that way.
Mr. Rooney stated that he would work with Mr. Rogers to go over the way that it is set up and the structure so by the time they get into budget hearings they could clarify the details. Councilwoman Walsh stated that they have criteria set up for anyone making a donation to the Village. One of them is that they can’t have an application before the Zoning or the Planning Board. Are they setting up an end run that if they make a donation to this foundation they would be publicized as making this donation there while having an application, and they would have no control over the foundation. Mr. Rogers stated that it was a little different because the donations that they have control over are the ones that are directly made to the Village and these are not directly made to the Village. As Mr. Rooney pointed out when you file for a non-profit entity you do have to give an explanation as to your purpose and it can’t be towards the Village of Ridgewood. It is not a gift to the Village but a financial donation to committees that are set up and need it for specific events. There will be a difference in it but he can see her point. There was additional discussion about the foundation and why it was set up.
Councilwoman Perron stated that they have been blessed with some large, generous donors and they need that 501(c)3 status so that they can deduct from their taxes, but now with tax reform they can’t itemize those deductions so most individual residents can’t make use of a tax deduction anyway. Maybe another vehicle would be appropriate and easier. Mr. Rogers stated that they could look into that and maybe that was something to discuss with an accountant. Mr. Rooney stated that for 2020 the IRS has eased a lot of the restrictions on charitable contributions as well as cash contributions because they may have an opportunity to get additional tax deductions. For tax planning you may want to look into it.
- Ridgecrest PILOT Agreement
Mr. Rogers stated that the Village was approached by Rich Barclay who is on the Board of Trustees of Ridgecrest, and Ridgecrest notified the Village that they are under contract for sale to a local group. In order to effectuate the sale and deal with financing they needed updates on the existing PILOT agreement that they have with the Village, and the other is a lease agreement for a certain nominal property that is part of the Ridgecrest parking area and parking lot. He asked the Village Council to look at a continuation of the PILOT agreement and a continuation of that lease. These were signed in 1982 and they felt that for the purposes of financing, the recognition of those two agreements would be beneficial. Right now, they may be doing this until 2032. They all are very proud of Ridgecrest and want to continue the strong relationship, so they recommend continuing with them and approving this request. Ms. Mailander asked if they would be done by ordinance. Mr. Rogers agreed and added that they should be two separate ordinances.
Councilwoman Walsh asked if the current ownership of Ridgecrest has non-profit status would the current buyer have non-profit status, as well. Mr. Rogers stated that from what he understands, yes, because the criteria has to be continued.
Councilwoman Perron asked what the County’s involvement is with Ridgecrest. Mr. Rogers stated that he wasn’t certain about the County’s involvement. Ms. Mailander stated that they were just involved with the rental of the units, so they are the ones that put out the notice for the rental of the units. Mayor Knudsen asked if there was a reason that it went through the County, because those are affordable units. Mr. Rogers stated that it was originally the County that handled the affordable housing administration, and Ridgecrest remains one of the few that the County still manages. Mayor Knudsen stated that at some point, when the County decides they don’t want to do that, then it goes to Piazza and Associates. Mr. Rogers agreed that it would be that type of a situation.
Mayor Knudsen asked in terms of the County, in that part of Ridgecrest that has been opened to special needs adults, that doesn’t change with the new group. Mr. Rogers stated that it doesn’t change with the two agreements that they are working on.
- Mandatory Outdoor Mask Policy
Ms. Mailander stated that they have had some emails from residents being concerned that they see various groups without masks and they are concerned that people aren’t taking masking seriously. Maplewood did enact a resolution to require masking in one of their downtown districts. Dawn Cetrulo, Health Department Director, stated that we are now well into the second wave of this virus and people are fatigued and becoming lax with mask wearing and social distancing. They are also experiencing problems with positive cases either not returning calls, hanging up, or not providing their contacts. She asked that people understand that they are asking these questions to slow the spread of the virus, not to get anyone in trouble. It is critical to let people know that you were in close contact with them when you were contagious. Without doing that, they may unknowingly infect someone else which could continue in the domino effect. Ms. Cetrulo stated that although they do have people that do not know where they caught the virus, they also have people that are unwilling to provide them their sources.
Ms. Cetrulo reminded them that wearing a mask and social distancing is the most important tool that we have to reduce the spread of the virus until we can get the majority of the population vaccinated which is going to take, at the very minimum, six months. Please continue to wear your masks indoors, including work, stores, and eateries unless you are actively eating and drinking. People that you are around may feel uncomfortable to ask you to put your mask on even if it is required, so please be responsible and do your part to slow the spread. Now that the weather is cooler, it is nice to have a mask on to keep warm. If you are outside and cannot social distance in a crowd or on a line, you must wear a mask according to the Executive Order. The guidelines for close contact are a cumulative 15 minutes within six feet. According to these guidelines, running or walking past someone outside, as long as they do not cough in your face, wouldn’t put you at risk. Ms. Cetrulo asked that people be considerate and keep their distance with or without a mask when outside.
Ms. Cetrulo stated that with their contact tracing they have found that most cases are from indoor exposure such as playdates, family gatherings, parties, driving in a car with someone, and organized sports such as football and hockey. She asked that people limit these types of instances while we try to get this pandemic under control. Please help her and her team do their best to keep Ridgewood safe. Ridgewood is doing a great job, but we can always do better. According to the Executive Order, we need to wear a mask outside if we can’t social distance. If you can wear a mask when out walking past someone, it is important because it protects them and it protects their family.
Councilwoman Walsh concurred, adding that she went and got Starbucks the other night and it was full of people. Some people had masks on, a couple of people didn’t, so she agreed that if you can’t social distance you should be wearing a mask at a minimum. When you have a bunch of people complying and then a few not, it negates it. Ms. Cetrulo agreed, adding that they would talk to Starbucks because that is one thing that they can enforce. They have not had a problem during an inspection with employees wearing masks. Councilwoman Walsh asked if they were actively drinking does that fit, because they got their coffee, took their masks off and were sipping but also chit-chatting with masks off. Ms. Cetrulo stated that was definitely a concern because they are affecting other people around them that are in the store. It becomes a full time job to enforce, and if you aren’t an employee of the Health Department, or a Police Officer, if you ask someone to put their mask on, they will freak out on you. She added that they suggest reaching out to the Health Department and they will reach out to the establishment, adding that they should go back to monitoring how many people are in the store.
Mayor Knudsen agreed that people are just fatigued with this at this point, so it is very easy to say they followed all the rules. They are getting emails with people asking if they could enforce the mandatory masks or have people wear masks when they are walking around Vets Field. She thinks it is important to know that people need to breathe while they are exercising and the rule for mandatory masks isn’t enforceable. Ms. Cetrulo stated that as a health educator, she is asking to get the information out there to ask people to try and keep their distance.
Councilwoman Perron stated that she has had residents say to her that they are outdoors and wearing masks, so let’s put our arms around each other and take a picture. She added that you still have to socially distance when you are outside and wearing a mask. Ms. Cetrulo stated that even though the guideline is cumulative for 15-minutes, if someone were contagious at the time, and they coughed or sneezed, that quick picture could be a problem. She added that even if you were wearing a mask, you would still be considered a close contact of someone if you met that criteria, but the mask would help and you would be less likely to get the virus.
Ms. Cetrulo stated that our vaccine is on its way and she is working hard with the County and her nurses to get people vaccinated, and things are going to change. She added that the reason they are in this second surge is because people are not following the guidelines. They find in some of the contact tracing, is that people are having people over. It was under control from being diligent in the first wave and it is taxing on everyone, but we have to get through this.
Mayor Knudsen stated that they don’t see that the mandatory masks are enforceable. Ms. Cetrulo stated that isn’t what is really causing the cases with the outside walking around. It is really the indoor gatherings, and the sports because they aren’t wearing masks and are exerting themselves.
- Authorize Shared Services Agreement – TV Inspection
Ms. Mailander stated that this is to put a camera into the mains and if there is a blockage to determine that. This is an ability to have a shared services and is on an as-needed basis. It is a two-year contract and they can award it one year at a time. They have done this for about 20 years.
- Authorize Shared Services Agreement – Cosmetology Inspections Borough of Norwood
Ms. Mailander stated that they did this last year, it is the shared services with Norwood for the cosmetology inspections. They have 9 facilities in Norwood. It went well this year and she would like to do it again. They did increase the price slightly but she believes Norwood would like to continue.
- Renewal of Liquor License – Signature Cocktails, LLC, and Maple Avenue Liquors
Ms. Mailander stated that they could not be renewed with the other liquor licenses due to the fact that they needed a special ruling because they had not been at a cited location for two years. Signature Cocktails just bought it in April from the Elks Club and they were not active at a location. ABC has authorized the renewal for both licenses, and the Village Council is the authorizing authority so they just have to agree to do so through a resolution.
Councilwoman Reynolds confirmed that it would be good until June 2021. Ms. Mailander stated that June is when they do all of the renewals, but now they have gotten their approval. If they haven’t been cited yet they would have to reapply, but it would most likely happen in the next year as one is under renovation and the other believes they will be able to register at 1 Franklin Avenue. Councilwoman Perron asked if that meant a bar was going in at the new housing. Ms. Mailander stated that distribution licenses are liquor stores, and the consumption license is the other which is Signature Cocktails and they already have a location at 2-4 Garber Square, so it is a bar.
- Updated Violation Ordinance Schedule
Ms. Mailander stated that the offenses and payable amounts for various violations of ordinances has been approved by the Assignment Judge of the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC). It has been sent by the municipal court administrator. All of the ordinances were reviewed by the Village officers who issue summons. Most of the changes were to establish ordinances as payable fines instead of having a court appearance required. This is in keeping with the recommendations from the AOC. The few ordinances that have increased fines was to make the Village consistent with other municipalities’ fines. She added that they just got the approval which it goes back to September 23rd for some reason. The ordinance won’t be adopted until January but according to the AOC, they retroactively approve it.
- REVIEW OF DECEMBER 9, 2020 PUBLIC MEETING AGENDA
Ms. Mailander stated that this was a review of the December 9, 2020 Public Meeting Agenda.
Proclamations include: National Radon Awareness Month.
There are no ordinances for introduction for Ridgewood Water.
There are no ordinances for public hearing for Ridgewood Water.
Resolution for Ridgewood Water: Title 59 Approval – Servicing and Repair of Electric Source; Award Contract – Servicing and Repair of Electric Source; Title 59 Approval – Landscaping Services; Award Contract – Landscaping Services; Title 59 Approval – Furnishing and Delivering of Sodium Hypochlorite; Award Contract – Furnishing and Delivering of Sodium Hypochlorite; Title 59 Approval – Line Stop and Valve Insertion Services; Award Contract – Line Stop and Valve Insertion Services; Title 59 Approval – Pipe, Appurtenances and Service Materials; Award Contract – Pipe, Appurtenances and Service Materials; Title 59 Approval – Annual PFAS Laboratory Analysis Services; Award Contract – Annual PFAS Laboratory Analysis Services; Title 59 Approval – Tree Maintenance Services; Award Contract – Tree Maintenance Services; Title 59 Approval – Cold Water Meters; Award Contract – Cold Water Meters; Award Contract Under State Contract – Chlorine and Phosphate Analyzers; Award Contract Under State Contract - Aerial Mapping; Award Contract – Garrett Place Water Main Project; Award Contract – Elks Club Interior and Exterior Partial Demolition; Award Professional Services Contract – Hydrogeologic Consulting Services; Award Professional Services Contract – Design and Construction Administration of Twinney PFAS Treatment and Improvements; Award Additional Year of Contract – Servicing and Repair of Potable Water Pumping Facilities; Authorize Change Order – Professional Engineering Services for Farview and Eastside Station Improvements; and Reject Bid – Laboratory Analysis Services.
The following ordinances are scheduled for introduction: 3833 – Amend Chapter 265 – Vehicles and Traffic – Establish Stop Signs at Shelton Road and Steilen Avenue; 3834 – Ridgecrest PILOT Program; 3835 – Leasing Property; and 3836 - Court Fees.
The following ordinances are scheduled for public hearing: 3824 – Amend Chapter 215 – Peace and Good Order – Establish Regulations for Municipal Parking Facilities; 3825 – Amend Chapter 145 – Fees – Hudson Street Parking Lot Permit; 3826 – Amend Chapter 265 – Vehicles and Traffic – Permit Parking; 3827 – 2020 Non-Union Salary Ordinance; 3828 – 2020 Management Salary Ordinance; 3829 – 2021 Non-Union Salary Ordinance; 3830 – 2021 Management Salary Ordinance; 3831 – Amend Various Salary Ordinances; and 3832 – Special Emergency Ordinance to Appropriate $2,047,254, Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic Public Health Emergency.
Resolutions include: Approve 2021 Village Cash Management Plan; Designate Official Newspapers for 2021; 2021 Annual Meetings Statement; Award Contract – Preparation of 2021 Village Council Meeting Minutes (NTE $9/page; $18,000 total); Award Contract – Water Pollution Control Facility Façade Repairs; Award Contract – Replacement of Doors at Water Pollution Control Facility; Award Contract – Disposal of Street Sweepings; Award Contract Under State Contract – Lawn Mower for Water Pollution Control Facility; Award Additional Amount of Contract – Yardwaste Disposal; Award Professional Services Contract – Software for Finance Department; Award Professional Services Contract – Risk Management Consultants; Award Professional Services Contract – Employee Assistance Program; Award Additional Amount of Contract – Feasibility Assessment for Indoor Firearms Range; Award Contract Under Inter-Local Purchasing System – Streaming of Village Council Meetings; Authorize Shared Services Agreement – TV Inspection (Northwest Bergen County Utilities Authority); Authorize Shared Services Agreement – Cosmetology Inspections (Norwood); Declare Property Surplus – Fire Department; Declare Property Surplus – Division of Solid Waste Packer Truck; Approve 2020 Budget Transfers; Approve 2021 Temporary Budgets; Approve Annual Renewal of Liquor Licenses; Appoint Joint Insurance Fund Commissioner; and Appoint Public Agency Compliance Officer (P.A.C.O.).
Councilwoman Walsh asked if the Elks Club could be taken off the consent agenda, and the Firearms Range.
- COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC
Lori Webber, 235 South Irving Street, stated that she wanted to address the One Village, One Vote ballot question and the current appeal that the Village filed. This week, One Village, One Vote sent out a self-serving email to their subscription group and posting on a local social media group suggesting that the Village Council drop their appeal, thereby forcing Ridgewood taxpayers to pay their legal bills and adopting the illegal ordinance that they proposed. She reminded everyone to remember who sued who here, why should we lay down and pay One Village, One Vote’s legal fees if there is a legal basis that requires an examination of the Judge’s decision. Judging by the number of responses tonight, it would seem that the overwhelming majority of the people that One Village, One Vote contacted are content to have the Village see this through the Appellate Court.
Ms. Webber stated that as a taxpayer, she is perfectly happy with a normal vote to admit that the majority rules, but in this case there are legal questions that need to be answered. For one, the petition process that was used by One Village, One Vote is for the purpose of creating municipal ordinance and cannot lawfully be used to move the date of the school elections. The Board of Education is not empowered to create an ordinance, so if the Village Council adopts what One Village, One Vote presented to voters, the Board of Education and the State Laws that govern how school election dates can be changed would be completely and possibly permanently usurped. There would be nothing the Board of Education could ever do that would override the ordinance, short of a lawsuit. So the law is clear, any local ordinance that serves to override or conflict with a State Statute is on its face null and void. Ms. Webber stated that under the law, the two elections cannot lawfully be moved through one ballot question.
Ms. Webber stated that although a Judge ordered the proposed ordinance to be placed onto the ballot, she couldn’t and she didn’t rule that it is legally viable itself. We have no way of knowing how voters would have responded if moving the dates of the Village Council and Board of Education elections was not presented as the package deal that it was. Yet the unlawful combination of the two on the ballot was the basis of One Village, One Vote’s entire platform. In fairness to the thousands of voters who weighed in, all the votes are important regardless of how they voted, and the questions should be presented to voters in conformance to the law and in no way biased to the interests of one side. Ms. Webber stated that she thinks everybody would agree that whether you agree with something or not, you don’t want people to be able to come in and circumvent the law. It is there for a reason and the laws are complex. The laws that control one local unit of government aren’t necessarily the same as those that control another unit of government.
Ms. Webber stated that all voters should want the law to work, ultimately that serves everyone’s interests and nothing would stop the petitioners from doing this in a lawful manner. Voters should be able to choose what they want based on what can be accomplished under the law. It actually needs to be said that we have a 30 plus year Village Clerk who was vilified by One Village, One Vote and that shouldn’t be glossed over. She deserved the benefit of a complete and thorough examination of the law as it pertains to her duties. It is simply the right thing to do, and we can’t ignore that or put a price tag on that. We are already on the hook for $11,000 to One Village, One Vote, so if we are talking money, they are just advocating to get their legal bills paid. She urged the Village Council to continue the Village appeal and all efforts that they can take to ensure that whatever actions are taken on our behalf that they are in strict accordance with the law so that we are all standing on the same playing field. Anything short of that would not only set a terrible precedent for the Village, but it would actually leave us vulnerable to future legal actions. It is going to cost one way or another, so why don’t we just take the time and do this correctly.
Jeannie Johnson, 325 Mastin Place, stated that the holidays are upon us and now should be the time to celebrate the good in our lives, instead many of us are giving our focused attention to the political unrest taking place right here in Ridgewood. Truth is told, every taxpayer in Ridgewood should have their eyes wide open to see what our Village Councilmembers are trying to do and undo. Some Councilmembers are willing to terminate the public-private partnership between the Village and HealthBarn USA. Doing this will eliminate over $250,000 that HealthBarn generates in rent payments and programming dividends. The Council majority has elected to discuss this issue in private session. The apparent reasoning is it is a lease agreement.
Ms. Johnson stated that when the terms of this agreement were introduced in 2016, they were discussed in open sessions. She asked what has changed and why as landlords are they leaving their tenant in the dark. HealthBarn’s owner received one brief phone call from the Village Manager to discuss the original lease’s one-term extension. Other than that, there has been no communication from the Village. Ms. Johnson stated that according to reports, some Councilmembers do not believe a private business should be operating out of one of our parks, then all businesses should be prevented from using our public spaces. That means that all sports clubs should be banned from using our fields, the Graydon concession stand will need to go, the vendors at The Stable will need to be pushed out, and if they are going to get technical, then there shouldn’t be any outside programming at the Community Center or the Library. It sounds ridiculous.
Ms. Johnson stated that our parks and facilities should be used responsibly, and if the Village can earn money from the programs that benefit every demographic that the Council serves, these businesses should be welcomed. Therein lies the issue. It appears that some members of this Village Council aren’t interested in serving all their constituents, and it appears they are serving a select few. Ms. Johnson stated that we know that 36 households surrounding Habernickel Park have no issue with HealthBarn, and we also know that 2 households, or more accurately 2 people, have an issue. She asked why these two people get to exercise power over the governing body and the majority of their neighboring residents.
Ms. Johnson stated that Ridgewood voters overwhelmingly voted to consolidate our elections, and there is no disputing that fact, yet some members of this Council are using those exact voters tax dollars to attempt to overturn this vote. These legal fees have cost Villagers a significant amount of money so far, and that number will quickly rise. She asked to what end, to appease the minority. Some members of this Council must think we have access to a money tree, the irresponsible spending tactics have got to end. We were told in June that we were broke, there are revenue shortfalls everywhere we look. Schedler is just one example. There is a $1 million plus structure that is sitting there with no plan and still no useable park land. She begged the Village Council to recognize and remember the people who voted for them and to vote according to the majority. She asked them to work with public and private entities to reduce our tax burden, and to remain true to their proclamations of complete transparency. Ms. Johnson asked that the Village Council share information on a user-friendly website.
Ms. Johnson added that she would like the public to hear the facts about the 501(c)3. What she recalls about the inception of this non-profit began at the first 125th Anniversary Planning Committee. She also recalls having a conversation with the Village Attorney that the filing would be difficult with the IRS shutdown in 2018, but the paperwork was submitted and the Mayor chose the Trustees. She doesn’t believe that it is a coincidence that two of them are the neighbors who want HealthBarn to disappear.
Boyd Loving, 342 South Irving Street, stated that after hearing the conversation about the Firing Range tonight he views this as something a little bit bigger than a kerfuffle. Kudos to the Deputy Mayor for putting his finger right on something that should not have happened. He has no idea why the Village Council wasn’t informed about another $5,000 to discuss or investigate the possibility of putting this at another location. The Village Manager spoke about “we discussed it” but she never explained who the “we” was. He cannot imagine why they would want to discuss or even consider putting a large facility that in all likelihood would cost multi-million dollars on a piece of property owned by the Village. He also can’t imagine that this was done without any Council involvement, whatsoever. He is pleased by the fact that this was not discussed by the Council behind closed doors, but he is somewhat disgusted that it was discussed at all and the Village Council was expected to pick up the bill for what would be unauthorized work.
Mr. Loving stated that on three separate occasions he asked or commented about the fact that the former Airbrook Limousine property was not being advertised as being available for sale. They may also recall that a former Mayor always used to say “I don’t believe in coincidences.” Based upon the discussion he has heard tonight; he now understands why on the three occasions in which he mentioned that Park and Ride facility being unused why nothing was ever done about it. He believes this was something that was done deliberately behind the backs of the Village Council. He added that someone leaked it, so who had these plans and decided to leak it to social media but left the Village Council in the dark. He agreed with Councilwoman Walsh asking that this be removed from the consent agenda next month, as this was done behind their backs and was leaked to social media to embarrass them. He added that he is neither for nor against a Firing Range, but he is against how this was managed.
Anne Loving, 342 South Irving Street, stated that she was happy with all of the reporting about the trees. She thanked Deputy Mayor Sedon for all of the work he has done on that. She mentioned for anyone listening that the Village’s memorial tree program is a way that individuals or groups can have a tree planted. Nancy Bigos and Matt Andreula were incredibly helpful. They were allowed to select the park that they wanted it in, the location in the park, and the species of tree. She thinks that is something that needs to be really advertised. It doesn’t have to be a memorial tree but it can be in honor of any occasion or a person. There is also a memorial bench program, as well.
Donna Jackson had one more email to read into public comment.
Mahmoud Hamza, 528 Amsterdam Avenue, wrote that he wanted to thank the Parks and Recreation Department for their work as he worked closely with them to get the two memorial trees planted that he donated to the Village.
Mr. Hamza wrote that regarding HealthBarn USA, he thought at first that it would be a simple task that would be addressed and resolved smoothly, but it is not. He saw three main challenges surrounding the issue. He emphasized that he understands that while the Village may outsource to private businesses it has to make sure that it maximizes the revenues and to work within a legal framework that will ensure transparency and avoid impropriety. He also emphasized that the neighbors who are living near the park, may have purchased their houses when the park was a quaint and quiet horse farm. Now are experiencing unexpected changes in their neighborhood, and now they would be disappointed and unhappy to say the least.
Mr. Hamza added that he also sees the good services that are being offered by HealthBarn. They are beneficial to many of the residents’ kids, and he heard many of the residents are benefitting from its services. The first time he was introduced to Stacey and HealthBarn’s activities was a few years ago when the interfaith clergy was invited to breakfast at the barn. They were given the opportunity to experience first-hand the educational services being offered to the community. He was very impressed by the program and the concept was a wonderful learning experience. Mr. Hamza wrote that it is connecting the kids with nature, healthy food habits, gardening, and giving them a peaceful place to connect.
Mr. Hamza wrote that although revenues should always be a priority, especially under the current circumstances, let us not forget that revenues are used to offer services benefitting the residents. So if there are beneficiaries within our Village from a good business such as HealthBarn, it would make sense to give a bit of revenues for a good service. Transparency is another major issue. Businesses cannot just be rewarded opportunities without ensuring proper procedure. For both the neighbors and the business do not let this divide us, we need to get together. This is not a matter of who will win or who will lose, it is a matter of working together with a little bit of concession by everyone who will make the Village and all of us winners. On the other hand, he pleaded with the neighbors to look into this with an open heart. One reason we love Ridgewood is its multi-generational environment, it is a price we pay for that.
Mr. Hamza wrote that although they no longer use the school system, they are happy to watch the children grow and say proudly they are their neighbors’ kids or that they came from our Village. For the business, he wrote that they should listen closely to what the neighbors are asking or complaining about as it is to be taken seriously and addressed properly by the business. We all need to compromise a little. He emphasized that there are challenges but he looked to the Village Council to be the unifying force, and believe that they care for each Ridgewood resident. He was confident that the Village Council could work with the concerned citizens to come up with a workable solution.
Siobhan Winograd, 274 Ivy Place, stated that she had some questions on the gun range. She lives three doors down from Glen Rock and when the prospect proposal came up, she knows that many Glen Rock residents were very unhappy and they were watching that. The figure of $5 million came from that 2019 discussion in a Bergen Record article. Clearly, that was a different time, pre-COVID. When it came back on the agenda, her first initial question was how did the location move, and why are they continuing this when everything has changed so much. She was concerned about the added $5,000 but was relieved that they were not considering a gun range within the Village border. She thinks the public’s confusion came from a question that if the Village Council is not interested in that, then why spend money on any type of feasibility study.
Ms. Winograd added that she understands the Ridgewood Community Foundation is supposed to be a supplemental Board for all the benefits of a charity, but it seems that if the Village is working this hard to set this up, they are going to have problems. The charity as a Board and a structure should probably do it outside of Village resources. If the Village is going to be using this, they should be disclosing who is on that Board, as she had an issue figuring out how separate it was from Ridgewood and who it actually is. She added that she does think if it is a separate Board and a separate structure and none of the Village Council is on it, no Village resources should really be used in establishing it.
There were no additional comments from the public, and Mayor Knudsen closed public comments.
Mayor Knudsen stated that to clarify Mr. Loving, she had been referring to the kerfuffle on Facebook and social media about something that the Village Council knew nothing about. The issue at hand is that there was momentum in 2019 and an interest in at least exploring this, but the additional $5,000 no one on Village Council was aware that this was even a consideration. She added that Ms. Winograd’s confusion was maybe a little less than her confusion and she didn’t know how anyone could know that location if it wasn’t put on an agenda.
Mayor Knudsen stated that she was unclear that HealthBarn’s revenue was $250,000 to the Village, but there was a lot to clarify there and she was unsure of the accuracy.
- RESOLUTION TO GO INTO CLOSED SESSION
Deputy Village Clerk, Donna Jackson read Resolution #20-364 to go into Closed Session as follows:
There being no further business to come before the Village Council, on a motion by Deputy Mayor Sedon, seconded by Councilwoman Walsh, and carried unanimously by voice vote, the Village Council’s Work Session was adjourned at 12:01 A.M.
Donna M. Jackson
Deputy Village Clerk
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