Recent discussions with the county could lead to the construction of a parking deck in downtown Ridgewood, village officials said this week.
Meetings beginning earlier this year between village officials and the Bergen County Improvement Authority have touched on the possibility that the county would fund a parking garage at the Hudson Street lot or on North Walnut Street, according to Mayor Paul Aronsohn.
“I tried to underscore to them that parking is a major issue in Ridgewood, has been for a while and continues to be, and is one that impacts the quality of life in Ridgewood and the downtown in a pretty significant way,” he said of the meetings.
While plans have not been finalized, the preliminary discussions, characterized as favorable by Aronsohn and Matt Rogers, the village attorney, have laid out a “comprehensive” parking study as the first step to determine the specific needs for parking in the downtown, and the areas where a garage would do the most benefit.
“From the county level, there’s a lot of attention to it,” Rogers said at a council meeting Wednesday night.
A garage has for years been identified by village officials as a solution to a lack of parking in the downtown. A parking committee established in 2009 suggested that a structure on North Walnut or Hudson would help fill a “clear need for a significant increase in the number of parking spaces in the” central business district.
But costs of construction are high, and the village has recently explored plans to do it without burdening the municipal budget. The latest plan, developed by the chamber of commerce, would have leased a public lot off Cottage Place to a retail developer, using the proceeds to fund the construction of up to two garages.
Though at least one developer expressed interest, no bids on the project were received in September, and a new request for proposals has yet to be put out.
Aronsohn said village officials were still reworking the plan, and that discussions with the county as well as a new parking study, should the partnership come to fruition, would likely revise the chamber plan, though not take it off the table entirely.
The county project would likely be funded by parking fees at the garage with little to no capital investment from the village, and Aronsohn was hopeful Ridgewood's share of the parking study needed to proceed could be funded by additional grants.
“Part of this would be holding Ridgewood tax payers harmless,” he said.
The mayor said village officials remain in contact with the improvement authority, representatives of which could not be reached for comment Thursday.
“We’re looking at different alternatives,” he said. “We’re looking at any and all options, but the county one is very promising.”