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Neighbors Angered Over Schedler Recommendation

Neighbors fear the recommended design of the Schedler property – which includes a 90-foot baseball field – and related impacts would diminish their quality of life.

The Ridgewood Open Space Committee has recommended to the Ridgewood Village Council that the 7-acre Schedler property be developed to include a walking trail, preserve the Schedler-Zabriskie House and hold a 90-foot baseball field.

But neighbors around W. Saddle River Road are none too pleased with the recommendations.

On Oct. 24, Ralph Currey, the chairman of the Open Space Committee, told the council they're seeking a "balance" as to the development of the oddly-shaped property nestled between Route 17 and W. Saddle River Road.

All – including officials, sports groups and neighbors – agreed the process should be modeled after the successful Irene Habernickel Family Park project.

But you might not know it judging from the tone of the discussions Wednesday night.

The recommended plan

Five topics of concern must be addressed for the development, Currey said: balance development, safety, saving the historic house, preserving trees and seeking private fundraising.

"We believe it should be designed for active and passive recreational purposes," Currey said. "Based on our perception of the village's needs we recommend a 90-foot baseball diamond with an overlay multipurpose field in the outfield. Recognizing the neighbors desire for balance, we also recommend the plan also include a signficant amount of recreation space."

A berm of trees along the side of the property facing 17 was also recommended and traffic calming features could be added to W. Saddle River Road, Currey said. Trees should be evaluated by the village's arborist to see what can be saved. Councilwoman Bernadette Walsh expressed hope that the house could be saved. The large sugar maple on the property needs to be assessed, Currey told the council.

The committee sought to preserve the Zabriskie Schedler House, built around 1830. He said within six-to-twelve months there should be a "credible" preservation plan in place including funding. If the village council does not see the house worth preserving, he said the committee recommend the house be raized and a new one built. 

In terms of funding, the Village Council should identify a citizen's group to spearhead the private fundraising drive to get the development approved, Currey said. The newly-created Ridgewood Conservancy for Public Lands (CRPL) is interested and so are representatives of sports groups.

Mayor Paul Aronsohn said the neighbors (represented by the "Ridgewood Eastside Development" group, or "RED") "must have a seat at the table.

Efforts to save the house should be done separately, Currey remarked. "We believe those efforts will appeal to very different donors."

Resident response

Few living near the proposed project were pleased with the Open Space Committee's recommendations, claiming the village was putting the interest of sports and "hobbies" above the "quality of life" for those living nearby.

Representing the RED, Phil Dolce, of Kingsbury Lane, said the council is under no time constraints in terms of development. Habernickel took eight years to come to fruitiion and was fundd with public monies and grants. That should be the model at Schedler too, he said. Dolce and others feared if private fundraising were the primary money-raising tool, special interests might win out.

"We know funds are tight in the village right now," he said. "They won't be tight forever."

The size of the baseball field was another chief concern for the neighbors. Between the parking lot and 90-foot field, there wouldn't be much space available for passive recreation, they claimed.

"Right now I feel after those three meetings we're still faced with the same giant field," Isabel Altano said. Referring to Habernickel again, she said: "We want the same thing on our neighborhood side because we pay the same taxes and we love this village as everyone else. We deserve the same."

Angela Leemons, of E. Saddle River Rd. worried a lack of trees would further deteriorate the quality of life. She said the interests of sports are being pitted against their right to live peacefully off Route 17.

"We heard a lot about fields being needed," she said. "For us who live on that side of Ridgewood, it's a quality of life issue. We live in close proximity to Route 17. Quality of life, versus quality of play."

Representing the Ridgewood Baseball/Softball Association (RBSA), Jim Albano said it's clear Ridgewood doesn't have the playing fields to support sports participants. The fields at present can't withstand the perpetual use, he argued.

A 90'" baseball diamond would help rectify the loss of the field at B.F. Middle School due to the referendum. Many nearby towns have three-times the amount of 90'" baseball fields, Currey added.

According to Albano, they've compromised with residents and others. But the 90'" field is "imperative."

"It's not the big stadium field you're thinking about," he said, describing the proposed field. "Theres just not enough fields right now for the older boys to play on."

Currey, of the Open Space Committee, stressed that a balance has been met. He cited the walking trails and green space proposed for the facility.

He also said this isn't specifically a neighborhood issue.

"This is an asset of the village of Ridgewood, not just a particular neighborhood in Ridgewood," Currey told the council. "It's a property that belongs to every resident in Ridgewood."

The village will continue to discuss the plans for the property in upcoming meetings. The council has the final decision as to how Schedler is constructed.

jp1 November 12, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Property does belong to the village but it also will impact a neighborhood and there concerns should be heard.
JAFO November 12, 2012 at 02:09 PM
No matter what happens, some large group of people will be unhappy. Unfortunately, people forget about the word compromise.
RdgwdGRock November 12, 2012 at 02:27 PM
how bout a cluster of cell towers, and there is anough room a real estate agency and a yogurt shop
STB November 12, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Time for a poll: assuming the proposal goes forth, who believes any of the following? You can pick more than one: a. the value of residential properties near the proposed field will rise relative to what they would have been had the fields, etc, not been constructed b. the value of residences will fall on a relative basis c. traffic for nearby residents could become even more dangerous than it already is d. crime might rise given a new hangout location for any and all punks, not just from Ridgewood, but from elsewhere, including Paterson
STB November 12, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Here are my votes: "b", "c", and "d"
Ridgewooder November 12, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Here comes the "waaaaahhhhh"mublance for the NIMBY types. Get over it.
STB November 12, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Dear "Ridgewooder", why not just answer the poll?
Ridgewooder November 12, 2012 at 04:02 PM
I didn't know you were entitled to dictate my actions, STB.
STB November 12, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Dear Ridgewood, I am not entitled to dictate your actions. Actually, if you read what I wrote, it was a simple question, not a dictation - "...why not just answer the poll?". Ironically, it was in your comments, specifically, "Get over it" that dictate actions.
viking November 12, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Habernickle is located in a quiet corner of the village. This property on a triangular lot bordering route 17. Access is available three ways, none very convenient to most drivers. Kids? They can be resourceful. Shortest distance from one point to another? Straight line......
Ridgewooder November 12, 2012 at 05:06 PM
You know what you meant. Don't pretend ignorance or hide behind grammer nuances.
STB November 12, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Eastsiders, I fear the "Just get over it" attitude, undoubtedly from those who do not live here, succinctly expresses how our concerns will be responded to in coming months. We have all seen West Siders in our meetings and their nonchalant dismissiveness to the litany of consequences we, not they, will have to endure. While their is likely no stopping a sports field, the design of it is what will determine how much more deadly it will be for our kids and our community. Part of any sensible plan should include the shutting down of the West Saddle River Road (WSRR) exit off 17N, enforced no parking on WSRR, and parking accessable only from 17N. This is a minimum. If we accept anything less than this, we will all be witness to harried families late for baseball practice driving 65 down WSRR (speed limit is 25) on one of the narrowest streets in Ridgewood. Closing the exit would partially mitigate the concerns we should all have regarding the out-of-town ghouls cruising in from highway 17 who will occupy the park and our neighborhood at night doing drug deals and preparing for home invasions etc, long after those on the West Side, who care so much about us, have taken their children home in the evening. BTW, the number one day for home break ins is Monday - why? Addicts have gone all weekend without robbery money. Now they will have an immediate staging area to meet up with other criminals before they break down our doors.
STB November 12, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Dear Ridgewooder, yes, I do know what I meant and apparently you are a very bad mind reader. It was exactly as I told you, a simple question. Sorry to say, there was nothing underhanded/nuanced there. I do find it bemusing your fixation on your completely off topic, completely inconsequential accusation.
JT November 12, 2012 at 07:50 PM
I say a & c. I definitely have a concern about the traffic & hope there are enough parking spots so that visitors won't be parking on the streets, however, I love the idea of a field (if it's as attractive as the drawing) and look forward to my kids being able to play there. As for crime, according to my older kids, you can't hang out anywhere for more than 10 minutes without the police coming by to chase you away, so I don't think that'll be a problem.
Brian November 12, 2012 at 09:22 PM
Yes to B & C. These fields are heat and noise producing monstrosities. Maybe if kids could just play ball themselves we wouldn't have to have a million "official" fields for our 10 year old jock heroes. D is just silly.
Donald Henke November 12, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Who will be held responsible when one of these "big kids" foul off a ball (over the presumed net) onto a windshield of a vehicle travelling 60 mph leading to a catastophic accident? The Village I presume?
Donald Henke November 12, 2012 at 09:37 PM
Nice berm of trees, too bad they don't extend to the rest of the bordering properties.
JustForRWD November 12, 2012 at 10:34 PM
I am sick of the RBSA (a non-tax paying entity) dictating the quality of life of Village Residents neighboring these obnoxious fields. Bright lights and noise from night games, trying to fit fields in every little bit of free space, safety issues, increased traffic. And this bodering an extremely high-traffic highway? Are they nuts? I think the RBSA needs to move to paramus for more tucked away fields. Why not all that open green on the Ridgewood Country Club?
JAFO November 12, 2012 at 11:55 PM
Just as I'm sure they're sick of all the selfish citizens who don't want to give adequate playing fields to the thousands of kids (tens of thousands really) in this town because you're afraid of your tranquil "quality of life". If you want peace and quite, then move away from the suburbs and into the country.
RB November 13, 2012 at 12:01 AM
Do it for the kids.
VKC November 13, 2012 at 01:03 AM
One of my first thoughts/concerns was traffic. I would also guess that after the baseball field comes the "need" for night lights.
Hudson County Westsider November 13, 2012 at 03:05 AM
STB their, they're, there There is a difference
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barbara February 01, 2013 at 09:27 PM
Correct...Habernickel is located in a very quiet corner of Ridgewood surrounded on all borders by private homes. The only access to this "family park" is Hillcrest Road, where teens are known for racing their cars very late at night. Most recently, a few teens from Waldwick were found at the "family park" drinking with open bottles. Obviously the quality of life takes a downward trend when a park is located in such a quiet section of Ridgewood with free access to all. However, Schedler property is located adjacent to Route 17 with easy access to a main highway without cars having to speed onto a quiet 25 mile/hour local street.

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