Still locked in a legal squabble with embattled Ridgewood Taxi, the village took steps Wednesday to force out the long-time village taxi service while welcoming .
The council introduced an ordinance Wednesday night authorizing a five year lease for the two-story municipal-owned building at 28 N. Broad, the former home of Ridgewood Taxi. Village Taxi is scheduled to move in November 1. The annual rent will be $32,400, roughly $2,700 per month, according to the ordinance. Village Taxi shall accept taxi coupons from Ridgewood seniors, the ordinance further states.
"Village Taxi" is the banner flown by Hawthorne-based E&K Car Service, which was . The lease agreement between the village and Village Taxi begins October 15, but Village Taxi must wait until the state allows the building to be reopened.
The state locked up the municipal-owned Ridgewood Taxi office by the train station in September, . In response, Ridgewood Taxi owner David Rutler said the state unfairly pulled the plug after refusing to negotiate.
Rutler could not be reached for comment Wednesday to speak on the ordinance introduction.
He has, in the past, however, pleaded for the community's help in saving the family business, pointing out that while Ridgewood Taxi has fallen on hard times, it has also been an active, philanthropic member of the community for decades. "I consider it a community service," Rutler previously told Patch. "We don't cheat anybody–we're good, honest people and while others have been laying off employees in tough times, we haven't."
"We will fight to the last man," Rutler wrote on Patch, adding that man would be him. "We need all the help we can get."
Ridgewood Taxi has since been operating out of its rented garage on S. Broad Street. Though it continued to pick fares up at the train station at the spots below the concession building on N. Broad, the village has since barricaded those spots.
E&K is eager to begin operating out of the village and it has quite a history with Ridgewood Taxi. Rutler has accused E&K of unfair business practices, namely "stealing employees" of Ridgewood Taxi. He later filed a lawsuit against E&K, which had offered to purchase Ridgewood Taxi.
Firing back, E&K's owner said previously Rutler had no one to blame but himself for his company's recent woes. "They are not failing because of me," he told Patch in April. "They're going down because they didn't do a good job."
Reached for comment Wednesday, Shehu said he will have a total of five vehicles – Lincoln Towncars, Hondas and Toyotas – ready to go for Ridgewood customers and he has no plans on raising fees.
He doesn't plan on raising a fight with the Rutlers either, he said.
"I'm not going to fight with them. They can still work, someone can still call them. They're just not allowed to pick up on the street," he said.
"I'm pretty happy," he said of the upcoming opening of Village Taxi."My guys are pretty happy and customers are going to be pretty happy."
The public hearing on the introduced ordinance is October 26.