Council Marches Forward with Parking Garage Plan

Developers interested in a prospective retail property will need to have an appraiser put their stamp of approval on a bid.

Seemingly on course to another 3-2 vote, the Ridgewood Village Council on Wednesday night found a way to compromise, advancing a unique proposal that could see the construction of a large retail facility and multiple parking garages in the downtown.

The council majority last week said they simply wanted to determine what a smack dab in the middle of East Ridgewood could retrieve on a land lease and in property taxes. A request for proposals (RFP) would be drafted with interested developers offering how much they'd pay to construct the bricks and mortar and lease out the space to businesses.

The revenue from the property would theoretically fund the construction of a parking garage at the Hudson lot and potentially at the Walnut Street lot as well.

But according to Councilwoman Bernadette Walsh, doing so was putting the cart before the horse. Walsh said a state-certified general real estate appraiser would be needed to determine the value and income potential of the property, which is currently a parking lot set between Gilsenan's and The Gap.

If you're paying off an $8 million bond, Walsh, an appraiser, argued, the certified appraiser is a must.

Ultimately, both sides agreed an assessor would be needed. The question was at what point in the process.

"Why don't we construct the RFP so that whoever responds has to have their analysis backed up by a certified real estate appraiser?" Councilman Tom Riche asked. "If I'm going to respond, I have to hire a real estate appraiser to stamp it."

The council agreed move forward under those conditions, spending up to $15,000 to draft an RFP.

James Bombace December 14, 2012 at 01:10 AM
Boyd, I am completely convinced that neither you, Paul, me or Jesus Christ could get this council to completely agree on any one issue. Todays council works kinda like the way our friends in Washington DC have been working for the last 20 years.
Mikka H December 14, 2012 at 01:24 AM
this whole thing is a joke .....who exactly benefits from this proposal? sounds like a selected few property owners in the CBD at the expense of Ridgewood residents....no matter how you slice it........
Boyd A. Loving December 14, 2012 at 02:07 AM
I think we've all had quite enough of the increasingly common "approved by a 3-2 vote." It's high time for all the Council members to get into a closed room and do whatever it takes so that we again have a Council composed of 5 members and not 3. Thanks Paul.
Anne LaGrange Loving December 14, 2012 at 02:42 AM
How much interest would the Village be responsible for with an 8 million dollar bond?
Aannoomm December 14, 2012 at 12:42 PM
Personally, I usually side with the 3, rather than the 2. This is so much better than when I only sided with 1 (before the election). This town is polarized and it shows on the council.
Brian December 14, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Mikka, how do property owners benefit? This is Village land that they are developing. I think the idea is to add more retail space and parking to encourage people to patronize downtown businesses. If anything, I would be pretty mad if I was a landlord in the business district where every other store is empty and now the Village is creating more space which would theoretically only further depress rental prices by increasing competition. Personally, I think parking is a fake issue. I would prefer to see the Village fund a program to offer rent subsidies to 3-5 "anchor" stores which would help to revitalize the downtown. The subsidy goes to the landlord but it lets the business have a chance to succeed by reducing their rent. I miss the pet store, sporting good shop, Williams Sonoma, etc. It would seem to me that if you could draw more people to town to shop at "anchor" stores you would help the smaller stores because there would be much more foot traffic. All the parking in the world won't matter if there are 6 stores left in the downtown area.
Long Time Resident December 14, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Mr. Loving, I couldn't disagree with you more on how the council votes (3-2). I would NEVER want to see a routine or regular vote on every issue turn out 5-0. I believe our system of government works best when an issue is NOT agreed upon in lock step by every elected official. When an issue is not agreed upon there usually is a discussion and a exchange of ideas and opinions about the issue. And in some cases new information, or an idea, will change one or more votes. This is how our system works best, from our local government to the federal government. I hope we never see a Democratic or Republican controlled Senate, House and Office of the President vote 100% on any issue without having a meaningful and relevant discussion on the matter. Long Time Resident
News Man December 14, 2012 at 03:09 PM
repeat: If having a certified appraiser need is a problem, Mr. Gilsenan (a contributor to the plan) is one. And I'm sure, he and his firm already have done their homework on this project and can help. Suggest you start there. Thanks.
Rock Fish December 14, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Good news/bad news- I have had zero issues finding parking this holiday season in Ridgewood.
AMAMOM December 14, 2012 at 04:09 PM
LTR, I think the point here is that the council members are not necessarily thinking issues through independently but voting the "party line". We all benefit when different opinions, perspectives and questions are presented. It seems to me that there are ALWAYS only 2 opinions.
AMAMOM December 14, 2012 at 04:12 PM
I too haven't had an issue finding a spot in years. Yes, I may be walking further on beautiful Saturday afternoons but so what, do we need enough parking for the 3 or 4 days per year when a customer might have to walk 3 blocks away? BTW, I routinely park the equivalent of several blocks away at the mall, doesn't stop me from shopping there.
Ridgewood Mom December 14, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Agreed. I never ever ever have any problem finding a spot. However, I find it annoying how far I have to walk whenever I visit the Westfield mall.
Boyd A. Loving December 14, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Yes; that is exactly the point. Three (3) members of the Council appear to be voting in lock step with one another on every issue. I was not suggesting we need 5-0 votes on every issue.
Brian December 14, 2012 at 08:56 PM
Interesting. Is that a guess or do you have specific knowledge of the spaces? There are some spaces that just seem perfect. The store on the corner by the train station seems very large. The old sporting goods shop was large. the space where Gap Kids was had a major retail store in it.
Long Time Resident December 14, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Mr. Loving, Your reply makes no sense when contrasted with your first comment. Exactly what are you trying to say.
Boyd A. Loving December 14, 2012 at 11:10 PM
The appearances are that Mayor Aronsohn, Councilwoman Hauck, and Councilman Pucciarelli are voting in lock step with one another on every issue, with Councilman Riche and Councilwoman Walsh being the odd persons out. What I'd like to see is each person voting on the basis of their true beliefs and not solely what their "friend(s)" on the Council are doing. Perhaps we'd then see some 4-1 votes, just maybe?
Mikka H December 15, 2012 at 12:21 AM
Anchor store...in Ridgewood....... yea I'll just drop anchor in Ridgewood.... been there....done that.......
Long Time Resident December 15, 2012 at 01:02 AM
Mr. Loving, Allow me to remind you of what you wrote. These are your words not mine...... "The appearances are that Mayor Aronsohn, Councilwoman Hauck, and Councilman Pucciarelli are voting in lock step with one another on every issue" Could not an argument also be made that Councilman Riche and Councilwoman Walsh are also voting in lock step with each another on every issue? Sure looks that way to me. Yet rather than chastising the entire Village Council for this perceived problem you only focused on a few members of the Council in your reply, and in your first comment more specifically only one Council member...... Again these are your words not mine.... ..........do whatever it takes so that we again have a Council composed of 5 members and not 3. Thanks Paul Why did you only single out the Mayor in your first message? Why not say thanks Council members? Do you have a problem with Paul? Is Paul responsibe for the actions of the other Council members in your mind? LTR
Boyd A. Loving December 15, 2012 at 05:12 AM
I singled out our Mayor only because he is the appointed leader of the entire group. My expectation is that he has both the ability and motivation to guide and influence those who unanimously appointed him. Bottom line, he's the top dog; the buck stops at his desk. I sincerely hope he can effectively lead the group to make sound decisions that lead to bettering Ridgewood as a whole.
Long Time Resident December 15, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Yes, I agree that the Mayor is the appointed by his peers. What I do not agree with is your expectation that the Mayor should change other peoples minds and decisions. Maybe Paul does have the ability and motivation to guide and influence those who unanimously appointed him. However that is not his job. Each council member was/is elected to do what they think is best for the Village in their opinion based on the facts and information they have available. If you feel a Council member is not voting in the best interests of the Village then that Council member should be singled out to defend his vote and explain what he has based his vote on. It is not be the Mayors responsibility to influence other Council members on how they should vote.
Dan Johnson December 16, 2012 at 01:42 AM
Parking. If someone will fund it and it won't cost us taxpayers anything. Why complain. 3-2 voting. Been true for years. But now at least it is 3-2 voting to do the right thing. We need solutions. And for a change we seem to be getting them.


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