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Ex-Resident Takes Offense To Mayor's 'Lava Lamp' Remark

Former Habernickel Farm resident takes to Facebook to vent; Mayor says comments go overboard

A woman whose childhood home is scheduled to be demolished by the village has sounded off against the mayor in a long post on Facebook, saying he embarassed her family when talking about the property during a Council meeting.

Marie Kuipers took offense to Mayor Keith Killion's remark that when the village salvages valuables from the Habernickel Farm property on Hillcrest Road, it should

Killion says the comment was made in jest at the Oct. 5 council meeting to point out that there likely wouldn't be many valuables found in the house due to the age and era of the home.

But Kuipers, who now lives in Michigan, claims it was a "snide and unkind" remark designed to "embarrass" her family. She said she took her fight to Facebook after The Ridgewood News declined to publish her letter to the editor (attached at right).

"I simply can't wrap my brain around his choice to use his position, his reach, and his words to cause additional pain to people about to watch a significant part of their former lives destroyed," Kuipers said, calling Killion's comment "reckless."

Killion said the remark may have been insensitive, but the comments that ensued have gone too far, he said Saturday. 

"It certainly wasn't meant to offend anyone or to degrade the house," Killion said. "Hindsight being 20/20 I can understand the former owner of the house would have taken offense. ... I apologize for any insensitivity or hurt I may have caused."

Pointing to the nearly 50-comment thread, the mayor says what's been said about him is a complete overreaction.

"They went way too far," Killion said of the comments, which he said were tantamount to cyberbullying. "I'm very surprised that our residents would take their displeasure to that plateau. I would have thought we were just a little more civilized than that."

The village is it purchased in 2004 into an active recreation facility. Work should be completed by the end of the year, officials say.

"For the record, there was never, ever, a single lava lamp in our home for the 30 years that we lived there," Kuipers said.

Ron Shepard October 18, 2011 at 02:50 PM
I don't think it is being too sensitive to ask that a mayor (a mayor!) exhibits some degree of sensitivity, or even respect for the historic elements of the village. Tearing down the property is not the issue, but rather the lack of consideration and acknowledgement of its former occupants. Those who think the comment is merely about "Lava Lamps" seem to miss the big picture (I think); progress is a wonderful thing, while history is what grounds us to our sense of place. Mayor Keith Killion was not merely demonstrating a lack of discretion, but a lack of remorse for the destruction of any landmark within the community. The Habernickle home itself may not hold the same historic significance as the iconic structures of downtown Ridgewood, but this does not mean any official should fail to treat it, and the family that built it, with courtesy and sensitivity. No, it is not about the yet-to-be-produced lava lamps, but rather the callousness of the remark itself, and what this says about the mayor’s view towards Ridgewood history and citizens. Not every structure can be saved- but when it cannot, let's treat the decision as a solemn occasion. No thesaurus needed thank you.
Wendy Norris Myers October 18, 2011 at 03:26 PM
Fair to say that those of us who grew up in Ridgewood in the 70s and 80s would never have gotten away with an apology like the one made by the mayor. You don't qualify it, you mean it. If you hurt someone's feelings, own up to it. Is civility in Ridgewood dead?
Laurie Goodman October 18, 2011 at 03:28 PM
I agree that everyone deserves courtesy and sensitivity. Even the mayor. I’m just not seeing the connection between the actual statement and its context and the level of hyperbole and anger in the original letter and Facebook comments. Should he have been called on his comment? Probably. But alerting the media and 50 outraged FB comments? Come on. With all due respect, sometimes a lava lamp really is just a lava lamp.
Dominick Nizza October 18, 2011 at 03:34 PM
Perhaps, this link will lighten up the tension a little, (KIDS learn to make their own Lava Lamps" Click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vKP7E4Bxe8
D. Foster October 18, 2011 at 03:43 PM
Hyperbole? Now there's a BIG thesaurus word! :0)
Douglas Cronk October 18, 2011 at 03:49 PM
"I'm very surprised that our residents would take their displeasure to that plateau. I would have thought we were just a little more civilized than that." Yes. Shocking that online comments are often hurtful. Shocking.
Laurie Goodman October 18, 2011 at 03:51 PM
Touché! ;)
Ron Shepard October 18, 2011 at 03:53 PM
Although back-and-forth brings the risk of misdirecting the thread, I watched this particular facebook post gain it's momentum- those who have reacted and fueled the fire understand, as perhaps not everyone does- this is just not about the lava lamp. It is about a comment that revealed a little more about the man behind the comment. Let's face it, the mayor expressed disdain for a place that others viewed fondly, and this resonated with many current and former residents, who have also watched the personality and character of their community fade; people who most likely feel (as I do), that the aggregate "feel" of a community is comprised of individual places, landmarks, and the memories and tales that give them life. To sully any persons fond memory- in this case by suggesting that there is nothing worth saving in the house (for this is what it came down to, right- not even a Lava Lamp), is to say to every member of this community that someone in their government has chosen to be the arbiter of taste as well, and that within this once grand structure, nothing, to his sense of taste, was worth redeeming. I wonder what Mayor Killion says and thinks as he walks though any of our own homes (I will hide the lava lamps).
RdgwdGRock October 18, 2011 at 03:56 PM
Laurie - you are 100% correct. All this venting about a little lighthearted comment. Some people need to chill and get a life and move on.
Marie Kuipers October 18, 2011 at 04:36 PM
I'm not sure where Anonymous Guy's assessment of the state of my "grapes" comes from, but I am quite sure that he doesn't know me or my family at all. We do not have sour grapes - we would have loved to stay in our home, but simply could not afford to continue to pay the property taxes, which, by that point, were approaching (or beyond) $60,000/year. None of us has ever expressed bitterness about the loss of our home, and in fact, gladly took the financial hit of selling to the town (instead of to the movie stars who wanted to buy it for their kids) in order to better our lovely village and allow its residents to continue to enjoy the property even though we could not stay. What the mayor said was unfunny, uninformed, unkind and totally irrelevent. The 50 Facebook comments simply reflect others' recognition of his gaffe, and their outrage at seeing a formerly lovely home and long-time Ridgewood family disparaged. My hope would simply be that Anonymous Guy not make assumptions about other people's intentions, feelings, or, um, grapes when he has no basis whatsoever to do so. And Laurie, dear - I do not have a thesaurus, but I am certainly glad that they are made available to those who may need to enhance their communication skills.
RdgwdGRock October 18, 2011 at 04:57 PM
Marie - since you are posting online, you can find a thesaurus free of charge online. "sour grapes" is an expression and not meant to convey a deep understanding of you or your family.
william corcoran October 18, 2011 at 05:03 PM
Mayor Killion is not a mean spirited person, any comment made, I am sure was not to offend or hurt anyone. This is not the Mayor's style. The Mayor's style is to dedicate about three hours of everyday of his own time for the village..
Craig Hueneke October 18, 2011 at 05:03 PM
I agree with you Laurie. Lava Lamps no matter in what context it's used is always cool! P.S. If the Village don't want them, I take em for the "Man Cave"! ;)
Anonymous Guy October 18, 2011 at 05:09 PM
You should read your own letter and hence, from read of the letter I surmised it was a "sour grapes" situation. For the record I do know your family and have fond memories of seeing the horses on the farm. That all aside, I think you took what was a passing comment meant to be humorous or meant to lighten the situation of removing what was a families home, as a disparaging barb at you and your family and it has now been blown out of proportion. I think its great you sold it to the Village for open space, I am sorry to see the house and its out buildings demolished, hopefully all for the bettermeant of the Village as your sale intended. I for one look forward to walking the property and enjoying the lake and the river below. All special and peaceful places.
Edward Sullivan October 18, 2011 at 05:10 PM
The Keith Killion I know is a sincere and sensitive man who would not seek to hurt or willfully "sully any persons fond memories". In these difficult times Village Council and other Village meetings can bacome quite contentious and Keith will often try to lighten the tone by injecting a little humor. I truly believe that is all he was trying to do here and unfortunately his comment was taken completely out of context. I am sure he is sorry if he offended anyone. There are so many issues and challenges facing our Mayor and Council these days the story of a misconstrued comment about a Lava lamp seems to pale in comparison. Let's get back to the big issues such as taxes, Valley, parking, accidents involving pedestrians, etc.
Craig Hueneke October 18, 2011 at 05:10 PM
Oh come on!! Lighten up. I am sure Mr. Killion meant no harm in that comment. It's not like he made comments about the family themselves. Times change and so do decorative tastes. Hell my house looked like a 1970's porn set.. I was waiting for a guy with black parted in the middle and feathered back hair, long sideburns and a Magnum P.I. mustache to come walking out from the master bedroom wearing a robe smoking a Winston. It's not like the nice person we bought if from was looked upon any differently. Gosh!
Craig Hueneke October 18, 2011 at 05:14 PM
Wendy- I wouldn't call civility dead at all. I would say that a "sense of humor" is what bought the farm.. Pun intended. IT'S A JOKE!! COME ON!!!!
Ridgewood Mom October 18, 2011 at 06:00 PM
I'm glad I am so blessed to live in a town where this sort of thing is the height of scandal. Bless Ms. Kuipers and bless Mr. Killion.
Craig Hueneke October 18, 2011 at 06:29 PM
Good Point R-Mom! Good Point!...There are towns where the local politicians are being investigated by the FBI, or was found naked and drunk on Main Street screaming "RELEASE THE HOUNDS", or even being found in his Caddy with his Goomada both shot in the head, and we here in good ol' Ridgewood have......"Lava Lamp-Gate". Does make you want to sing God Bless America don't it?
Judith Scanlan October 18, 2011 at 06:38 PM
Is the mayor actually from Ridgewood? We lived there 21 years. Left in '93. Ridgewood was a great town in those days and I feel quite certain that anyone who grew up there would be proud of the people who contributed so much to the town and would not throw out a gratuitous and crass remark. The mayor needs to apologize to the residents of Ridgewood not just the Kuipers.
RdgwdGRock October 18, 2011 at 06:43 PM
no apology needed here.
RdgwdGRock October 18, 2011 at 06:44 PM
perhaps the lava lamp should be added as the logo for the Village of Ridgewood web-site
Ridgewoodboy October 18, 2011 at 06:46 PM
The mayor is a life long resident of Ridgewood.
Ridgewoodboy October 18, 2011 at 06:56 PM
The Mayor was also a member of the Ridgewood Police Department for thirty years and retired as Captain of police so you must of been really involved with the Village durning your 21 years as a resident.
Bernadette Walsh October 18, 2011 at 07:36 PM
The Mayor is a 60+ year resident and raised his children here. He and his lovely wife Kathy and all of his children still reside in Ridgewood.
RdgwdGRock October 19, 2011 at 01:32 PM
me too. people are way too sensitive these days and looking for attention.
John Hahn October 19, 2011 at 08:36 PM
Slow news day, James? Shakespeare has a play title about this event. Can you guess which one? Sorry Marie K in MI if you feel hurt. Take a big drink of your favorite alcoholic beverage and LET IT GO.
RdgwdGRock October 19, 2011 at 11:23 PM
The Tempest
John Hahn October 20, 2011 at 01:56 AM
Good one Ridgewood Guy11 but not the one I was thinking of.
Judith Scanlan February 11, 2013 at 12:07 AM
Came back to this site by chance but I couldn't let your nasty comment go by. FYI I was on the Board of Directors of the YMCA for a number of years and designed and executed the membership survey which resulted in the Y expansion..Furthermore, even though I held down a full time job I managed a girls' softball team for several years. Was not familiar with names of policemen.

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