Ridgewood school officials have been lobbying the local government for close to a year to designate public parking on Heermance Place for teacher use. As it turns out, they might not have to ask at all – it could be their property, Village Planner Blais Brancheau revealed Wednesday night.
According to the village planner, maps suggest that the road abutting the high school is only 20 feet wide. As such, the 23 spots facing RHS Stadium Field could actually be on the property of the high school. If that's the case, he said, the school officials likely wouldn't need permission to strip the students or general residents of the right to park there in favor of teachers.
Still, he said, there could be a previously existing agreement between the two governments stipulating that the village controls the street and the parking spots. That will have to be researched, he added.
"There's got to be an answer out there," Councilwoman Gwenn Hauck said. Other similar towns like Chatham and Montclair are having the same conversations, she said. "We need to do the research."
The district has rescinded a request to designate on-street parking on Beverly Road for teachers.
The council majority on Wednesday night again expressed support for ceding the spots for the teachers.
"I'm willing to defer more to the board of education as to whether the schools are best served by providing this modest amenity to staff," Deputy Mayor Albert Pucciarelli said.
By offering up the spots to teachers, the main parking lot would allow for five spots to be used for visitor parking, Superintendent Dan Fishbein said.
It's a selling point Mayor Paul Aronsohn latched onto.
"Having 4-5 designated spots for parents would provide much needed relief," he remarked.
Their interest proved a contrasting point to that of council members Bernadette Walsh and Tom Riche.
"It's like reverse eminent domain," Walsh said. "That's the part I'm uncomfortable with. We're taking rights from every other resident of Rdigewood for a specific group of people... It's an awkward situation. We all have kids in the school but we're obviously asked to look at it from the general standpoint of what's fair in the public eye."
"I'm concerned about taking of public property designated for private use and what it could do to businesses in downtown for example," added Riche.
Aronsohn, who originally voted against a similar plan in 2012, said he wants to move forward in drafting an ordinance while researching who actually has ownership of the spots.