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Ridgewood Election GuideSaturday, May 3, 2008

In Uncategorized on May 4, 2008 at 4:25 pm

Ridgewood Election GuideSaturday, May 3, 2008

Last updated: Saturday May 3, 2008, EDT 12:29 PMBY EVONNE COUTROSSTAFF WRITERFive candidates will compete for three four-year council terms in the village’s non-partisan election on May 13.

Betty Wiest, incumbent, of North Walnut Street, member of Women Gardeners of Ridgewood, has served as deputy mayor, is liaison to the parks, recreation, and conservation advisory board and the open space committee, president of Ridgewood A.M. Rotary.

Jacques Harlow, incumbent, of Oak Street, is a former ITT engineering executive, member and past president of the Ridgewood A.M. Rotary, charter trustee of the Ridgewood Public Library Foundation, served on the Planning Board, the Board of Adjustment and the Library Board.

Keith Killion of Willow Court, Ridgewood police detective, retiring in July, Vietnam veteran, has been involved in the Fourth of July Committee, Downtown for the Holidays, Memorial Day Run and Community Center Advisory Board, member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion.

Anne Zusy of West Ridgewood Avenue, journalist, voted 2006 volunteer of the year by the council, member of the Community Center Advisory Board, oversaw the Youth Council and Youth Advisory Committee effort to establish a community center, president of the Federated Home and School Association.

Paul Aronsohn of Linwood Avenue, public affairs executive at Pfizer Inc., 2006 Democratic congressional candidate, director of communications for the governor’s office in 2002, special assistant in the Bureau of Political Military Affairs for the U.S. Department of State from 1993 to 2001; arms control adviser with the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, Ridgewood A.M. Rotary Club member.

Cutting costs: Harlow said the village must find new revenue sources by looking at the cost structure and reorganizing operations. He said the budget will have a 3.5 percent increase and that he would have liked it well below 3 percent.

Going green: Zusy said the village should take steps to go green, from installing solar panels to using more hybrid autos. She called for community and school gardens, education on food issues, use of non-chemical cleaning agents, recycling bins at the train station and bike lanes in town.

Communication and open government: Killion said he is conducting a self-financed campaign and will promote policies that maximize open government. Zusy said that as a journalist, she seeks to create conversations about good government. She favors a village-administered blog so residents may include their names and addresses and raise issues in a civil forum.

Parking garage: Killion said the planned parking garage/retail space at Walnut Street and Franklin Avenue is a huge, unnecessary expense and that the village should acquire the adjacent Town Garage property and turn it into a surface lot. Zusy said the large redevelopment plan as presented is not the way to go and that car lifts could be added to existing lots. She said the village should distribute parking maps and reserve spots for senior citizens. Aronsohn said the village is facing a challenge because the train station renovation is coming and that it would be wrong to move forward with a plan now because it would be overwhelming to have simultaneous construction projects. Harlow said the village is looking for a developer for the building, with the requirement that the village receive continuous income from the rental of the land. Wiest said that after much study, the village is interviewing developers but that the project is still a long way from a decision.

Water tower: Aronsohn said the Ridgewood Water Co. has proposed replacing the two aging tanks on Valley View with one large tank. Aronsohn said the proposal provides for a tank of greater capacity and height but said the problem is that there has been inadequate communication between the company and the affected residents. Aronsohn said that at the very least, Ridgewood Water should be more responsive to Valley View residents. Killion said the new tower should be built to the same capacity as the existing ones, with below-ground storage considered if more capacity is needed.

The Valley Hospital: Zusy said she understands the need for the hospital to modernize and neighbors’ concerns about the scope of the project and feels sure there are ways to compromise. She said she would have independent analysts look at the hospital plan to determine if the footprint could be reduced. Zusy would also examine whether sections of the facility could be moved below ground. Killion said the expansion is needed, but said the plan is too big and that he will explore a compromise with residents. Aronsohn said it would be wrong to give any member of the community, including the hospital, a blank check to develop with relatively little oversight. He said that although some of the proposed renovations might have great merit, each should be reviewed and scrutinized.

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  1. I agree 100% with Aronsohn on the Valley issue. We need to have oversight on Hospital expansion. Why don’t they just apply for their first variance and see how it goes. If they have a grand plan, and I am sure that they do, they should lay it all out.

    If Valley runs into financial difficulties in the future or if they decide to merge with another hospital, we will have given away everything. The new owner will be able to make any changes that they want and our old friends at Vally won’t be around to help.

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