March 4, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES III • Page 9 Ho-Ho-Kus VFW’s commander updates council on lease dispute by Jennifer Crusco The dispute between the Ramapo Valley Railroad Club and its landlord, The Washington Elm Post 192 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, could end in a court of law, if the VFW opts to change the locks on its building at 620 Cliff Street, Ho-Ho-Kus. At issue is an alleged series of violations the VFW urged the club to remedy earlier this year. The lock-out had been considered, but not carried out, at press time. VFW Commander Stanley Kober updated the Ho-Ho-Kus Council on the situation last week, apprising the governing body of the railroad club attorney’s letter, which includes notice of a suit if the club is locked out of the VFW’s building. David M. Watkins, the attorney representing the club, stated in a Feb. 23 letter to Kober: “Notice is hereby given that the State of New Jersey does not permit selfhelp in a landlord tenancy situation. Should you lock out my clients without a court order, suit will be filed against your organization and you personally for violating the current laws of the State of New Jersey. You will be sued for compensatory and punitive damages as well as trespassing upon the property which my client lawfully leases at this point in time. “If you believe that my clients have violated the terms of the lease, then do what all other owners of property must do which is namely to file suit in the Superior Court of the State of New Jersey for possession. Any other action taken by you which prohibits my client access to the subject property will be dealt with rigorously by me.” In his verbal report to the council last week, Kober said, “The lease is clear; we can lock them out and repossess the premises.” Councilman Lee Flemming asked why Kober was consulting with the council. Kober explained that, when the VFW purchased the land from the borough in the early 1950s, the agreement included the stipulation that the borough council must approve any leases. Kober was providing the council with an update on the current lease, which was signed by a prior incarnation of the council. Mayor Thomas Randall told Kober, “I remain available to speak or mediate.” Randall acknowledged that the situation “does not sound promising,” but said he remained open to aiding the groups. Councilman Doug Troast asked Kober about the VFW’s plans to construct a new building. Kober responded that the original plan was to raze the existing Cliff Street structure and rebuild, but the railroad club did not support those plans. The VFW then approached the borough to buy the neighboring property. When that matter was close to a vote, Kober said, the state VFW organization said Post 192’s lease with the railroad club was invalid and unlawful, and the building plans were put on hold. Kober said his organization’s members want to reclaim the use of their building. “We own it,” he noted. He added that the VFW’s stand is firm, saying, “We do not want these folks as our tenants any longer.” The club holds a lease that allows its members to use the VFW-owned building on Cliff Street. The terms of the lease, which was renewed in 2002, allow limited access to the VFW members, which has become an issue since the veterans’ organization reorganized in 2005. In a Jan. 15 letter to Club President Dennis Alderman, Kober cited the VFW’s concerns. In that letter, Kober asserted that the outside area, including the driveway and sidewalks, have not been properly cleared of snow and debris. He also said that sections of the siding on the former garage, which is now being used for storage, must be repaired according to professional construction standards at the tenant’s expense. In addition, Kober said cracked windows, ceiling fans, and air conditioners that are apparently non-operational must also be replaced at the tenant’s expense. The VFW asserts that the lease provides for the veterans’ group to have suitable space to seat 20 persons with two tables. The letter states that such a space has not been provided. According to the letter, the attic area is unsafe for people, and the garage and inside doorway from the joint meeting room to the garage are unsafe and must be cleaned. The letter further states that the floor area in the joint meeting room and hall, the large table in the meeting room and the bar area “continue to be dirty from outside foliage, dirt and other materials, food stuffs, etc.” The club was also asked to provide a current, written IRS approval statement that the club is a non-profit organization, and for $5,741, which the VFW has spent on insurance policies for the premises. Regarding the insurance issue, the landlord claims the lease states the insurance is the tenant’s responsibility. Watkins has said the claim that the club is obligated to pay for the insurance policies is incorrect and that his client has no obligation to pay for insurance coverage. He has also stated that, since the inception of the lease, nothing has changed at the building that would lead to unsafe conditions in the attic that would have been caused by the railroad club. In a telephone interview last week, Watkins reaffirmed that his client is entitled to quiet enjoyment of the building. “We are not moving,” he said. “That is unequivocal.” ��������������������������������� UPCOMING EVENTS Mar 6: (Children 7 and under) Future Events Fireplace Story Time 7PM Mar 7: Poetry Corner 7:30PM Mar 8: Local Artist Showcase • Nutrition 101 • Chiropractic Night • Pilates for you & First Aid • Information Health Events • (Pregnancy 411) The Bradley Method Kids • Junior Painters Night • Fireplace Story Time Ridgewood High Student Night Adult • Henna Painting • Wii Game Night • Movie Night Spring & Summer • Car Enthusiasts Club • Hiking Club/Biking/Book Club • Interior Design • The Art of Floral Arrangement Fair Lawn High Student Night • Henna Painting • Wii Game Night • Movie Night 166 East Ridgewood Avenue, Ridgewood, NJ - 201.389.6156 Dr. Heather Sculthorpe is proud to present Tracy Collins, a 2006 winner of the Hygienist of the Year from RDH Magazine. 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