Twenty-minute hunts for parking in our central business district are unfortunately common, and many believe that the limited parking options push irritated drivers to the post offices and shops of neighboring towns. Long-term residents and business owners are irritated with the town’s frustrating parking options. Those days may soon be over, but it is not without controversy. The Ridgewood Village Council, Village Manager, and Chamber of Commerce are proposing a plan to help the village’s parking problems.
The idea of building a parking garage has been proposed and has proved popular among residents and commuters. Despite the seemingly simplistic solution, strong opposing opinions on the topic exist.
Municipal lots fill up early with commuters and employees who leave their cars parked throughout the day. This leaves restaurant and shop customers with limited spots. The Village Council recently made changes to improve the situation by changing several twelve-hour parking lots to three-hours and offering employees an 80 dollar monthly pass option to park at the old Ken Smith Motors lot.
While some residents view this change as a step in the right direction, others disagree. Many employees and store owners in the central business district are upset about the cost and inconvenience of the new program. Others suggest that parking has already been improved as a result of these changes, but far from a solution.
On November 3, a village vote showed citizens’ clear support for a plan to build a five-story, 350 parking space garage. The purpose of this non-binding referendum question was to gauge public interest in the project, which is slated for the intersection of Hudson and South Broad streets. Funding for the garage would come from Ridgewood’s parking utility along with county and state monies.
The plan’s proponents are excited about both the project and the garage which they feel is overdue. These people believe that a vote for this parking garage is one that will benefit Ridgewood as a whole.
Opponents of the garage feel that subsequent higher rates will impact residents visiting religious facilities, shops, and restaurants. These opponents also have voiced concerns that a five story parking garage is not the right fit for downtown Ridgewood. Others opponents argue that the town’s plan to buy bonds for fifteen million dollars and pay them off from parking revenues is economically risky.
Some residents oppose moving forward on any project without a Ridgewood master plan from the village council. They feel that a cohesive plan will save Ridgewood from costly mistakes due to a piecemeal approach. Despite conflicting opinions, many Ridgewood residents eagerly await the town’s final decision.