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Partnership with County Explored for Downtown Parking Garage

Bergen County Improvement Authority has expressed interest in funding construction of a downtown parking deck, according to Ridgewood officials.

The Hudson Street lot is a possible target for the construction of a parking deck / file photo
The Hudson Street lot is a possible target for the construction of a parking deck / file photo

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.”

RidgeWoodie December 13, 2013 at 08:39 AM
i will believe this when the Bergen County Improvement Authority's Chairperson confirms what Aronsohn claims took place.
Anonymous Guy December 13, 2013 at 09:27 AM
This garage should have been built when the old firehouse was torn down.... Parking is needed at the upper end of town. If people would walk there is usually plenty of spots off cottage...
Bob S December 13, 2013 at 09:34 AM
Good article on an important subject. The claim that Ridgewood taxpayers will be "held harmless" sounds like public official nonsense. Construction costs, bridge loans, and long term debt and the associated interest costs have to be paid for. It will be interesting to know why we have to go through the Bergen Development Authority and their fees instead of an alternative such as municipal revenue bonds and perhaps other below market cost alternatives that may be available through the assistance of the NJ Department of Community Affairs.
JAFO December 13, 2013 at 10:06 AM
This is a joke. Parking is not a major issue. I've never had trouble finding a parking spot somewhere in town. Sure it's rarely in front of the store I want to go to, but either would a parking garage.
Michael Sedon December 13, 2013 at 11:33 AM
Wow another parking study. Why not go to the library and revisit any one of the multitude of parking studies done since 1920 that it keeps in its archives? Seriously, the parking studies go back to 1920. Then there's the parking study from about 1972, which has similar suggestions in it as the more resent flavor from about 2008. I've read them all, so I know what's in there. And what major changes could have happened since the 2008 study anyway? This is going to turn into an $80,000 waste of money to tell officialdom the same information it already has.
jp1 December 13, 2013 at 11:35 AM
At one time i would agree with JAFO but i find that almost every parking lot during business hours have become all day commuter lots.
DD December 13, 2013 at 12:04 PM
Something tells me that all of these people aren't just making up the issue with parking for all of these years.
Anne LaGrange Loving December 13, 2013 at 02:50 PM
Mike Sedon, right on the money, as usual! Thanks, Mike!
News Man December 13, 2013 at 03:22 PM
"Parking Study" what's that? sounds like another dumb idea from friend Dom...... "Modernize Graydon"... Nothing will get better.
JAFO December 13, 2013 at 04:26 PM
Unfortunately DD, they are making up the issue. The problem is that too many people feel they are entitled to have the best parking spot. If they want to go to Bookends, then dammit, they should get to park within 100 feet of the front door. God forbid they park near Mt Carmel and walk three blocks.
DD December 13, 2013 at 04:46 PM
While I'm sure some people don't like driving around hunting for a spot, I think your analysis is an oversimplification of a somewhat complex issue.

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