RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — Ridgewood Mayor Susan Knudsen is working with PSE&G to postpone its two-month underground construction project downtown until after the holiday season.
Currently, the utility is scheduled to start work on its upgrade project east of the train station on Sept. 26 – a fact that has upset shopowners along the Broad Street and Franklin Avenue corridors.
“Any other time of year would have been fine, but if this is not, in fact, an emergency, why are they doing this work during the fourth quarter?” asked Tony Damiano, owner of Mango Jam, a gift shop on North Broad Street.
Damiano also is president of The Ridgewood Guild, an organization that serves as a conduit between the business community and the Village Council.
He said business owners are upset the project was scheduled to happen during the holiday season, which would hurt sales.
But they're also up in arms, he said, about being given only three days' notice before work was to begin. Originally, PSE&G was to have started the project Monday.
"We understand the concerns and frustrations of our business owners," Knudsen said. "We share those. Had I been involved, I would never have recommended this and I know my council colleagues would have suggested otherwise."
According to the mayor, the council does not vote on PSE&G work and has no involvement in the issue.
"It was a staff decision with the former village manager," Knudsen said. "It's nothing we have control of and we're working to fix it."
The Ridgewood Guild issued a press release Thursday opposing the timing of the work and the three-day notice.
According to the release, the Village Council announced the project at its Wednesday night meeting. That’s when business owners found out about the work, which will be operational 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays through November, weather permitting.
“You’re going to affect two main arteries into our downtown — Broad Street and Franklin Avenue,” Damiano said.
Traffic congestion, construction delays, loss of parking spaces, and the presence of police vehicles, construction trucks, and other equipment will dissuade people from shopping, according to The Rigewood Guild.
The PSE&G work will affect the following roads:
- South Broad Street between Passaic Street and East Ridgewood Avenue;
- North Broad Street between East Ridgewood Avenue and Franklin Avenue;
- Franklin Avenue between North Broad Street and Chestnut Street;
- Franklin Avenue and Walnut Street intersection.
PSE&G issued a phone number residents and business owners can call if they have a concern about the project – 1-888-314-3332.