Ridgewood April 29, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES II • Page 3 Council explores options for parking garage by John Koster If the vote had been taken last week, the Ridgewood Village Council might have voted against building a multi-tier parking garage on Walnut Street, but the governing body agreed to keep all options open before making a final decision. “I want us to look at every alternative,” said Councilman Patrick Mancuso. “Now is the time to look at every alternative and see what makes sense.” The parking garage portion of the meeting revolved around the postponement of a report from Onyx, the firm now planning the redevelopment, about how expensive it would be to put a second tier of parking above the present lot between Ridgewood Avenue and Cottage Place, wedged between the stores on Ridgewood Avenue and the Education Center. This information had been requested by the council at a previous work session when some members questioned whether a three-story or four-story parking garage with wrap-around retail shops and stores on the street-level would be viable under present economic conditions. Councilwoman Anne Zusy, who had worked with a committee of retailers and other citizens, said she favored the construction and that the committee members, with one exception, concurred. She introduced Paul Vagianos, a downtown restaurateur who advocated decisive action to relieve the parking pressure on Ridgewood’s central business district. “I’m not speaking only as a restaurateur,” Vagianos said. “I’ve seen people get hit by a car. I’ve almost gotten hit by a car myself. I speak from that vantage point.” He added, “We don’t need a garage, we need several garages. We urge the town to do this as quickly and judiciously as possible.” Ray Turro, another member of the parking study group, said only those commuters who left early could find parking lot spaces, and he urged that the garage be constructed. But Gene Rose, the dissenting member of the study group, soon to open an American Express office in downtown Ridgewood, disagreed. “The time is very unsettled and people are suffering,” Rose said. “Putting in a major commitment would not be prudent.” Deputy Mayor Keith Killion said he has aesthetic concerns about how a fourstory building half a block in length and width would impact on the business district on Franklin Avenue, a retail area near the heart of town. “Just because it’s free, it’s not necessarily for me,” Killion said. “I don’t care how many facades you’re going to put on it, it’s still going to be three or four sto- ries.” “I remain increasingly opposed,” said Councilman Paul Aronsohn, citing the economy. “Let’s look at the innovative steps we can take first.” The report had also suggested opening up more spaces by making several streets one way, with parking on one side, and by condensing the width of existing parking spaces to allow for more spots for cars. Killion then asked Joe Suplicki, Ridgewood’s historian, why parking had been discussed in Ridgewood since the 1920s and several large plans had been put forward in the 1960s and after, with no conclusion. “Back in 1923, they were worried about people re-re-parking, and that’s still going on.” Suplicki responded. As to why not action had been taken, Suplicki said, “I would suspect that money had something to do with it.” Mayor David Pfund, splitting with Killion, Aronsohn and Mancuso, and supporting Zusy, was a strong advocate of the Walnut Street parking garage. “I’m in favor of the project, although there is concern about the economy,” Pfund said. “I think that these economic times are the best time to do it. I think we’re going to get the best deal from a developer.” The council made no decision pending the report from Onyx about how much a second tier over the existing municipal lot behind Ridgewood Avenue and Cottage Street would cost. ���������������������������������� ��������������������������������������������������� ������������������������������������������������������� ������������������������������������������������������������������������� ���������� ������������������������� ����������������������������� ��������������������������������������������������� ������������������������������������������������������������������� ������������ ������������������������� 1ST ANNUAL SPRING GALA PERFORMANCE ���������� ���������������������� for the Arts, Ramapo College. At Berrie Center ������������������������������������������������������������������������ ���������������������������������������������������������������������������� ����������������������������������������������������������������������� Saturday May 30th, 1:00 PM & 7:00 PM ���������������������������������������������������������������� ����������������������������������������������������������������������� ����������������������������������������������������������������������