RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — After nearly eight decades of unsuccessfully trying to construct a parking garage in Ridgewood, voters will decide the fate of a new multi-level structure on Tues., Nov. 3.
Ridgewood officials and design experts held the first of two forums for a proposal by Desman Design Management for a four-level garage on Hudson Street with rooftop parking and more than 300 spaces.
A parking deck is critical with the village's booming downtown district and the busiest rail station on the line, Mayor Paul Aronsohn said.
“The [Village] Council has spent a lot of time and energy in the last couple of years trying to make that happen,” said Aronsohn, citing an environmental analysis survey, a $500,000 bond for a design team, a financial study and more.
“We all recognize the need for more parking,” the mayor said. “What we really tried to do is make a serious and thoughtful effort to get this done once and for all.”
Talks of a parking garage date back to the 1927, when additional parking was seen as a crucial necessity to help downtown Ridgewood thrive, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Joan Groom said.
A 1967 study conducted by village residents found a significant deficit of parking in the central building district.
Many residents were opposed to the garage because they thought tax revenues would pay for it, according to an article written by the Ridgewood News in June 1968.
“The present parking utility is completely self-supporting,” said Richard Gilsenan, a former chamber and mayor’s committee member.
Commercial landlord Ed Sullivan says the facts remain the same.
“It’s not the gigantic money machine that some residents think it is,” he said. “It’s simple: Cars come and go.
"The garage makes sense on many levels.”
Ridgewood acquired property formerlly owned by the Hillman family in 1972 with the intention of building a parking garage. The land remains blighted, said Thomas Hillman of Hillman Electric.
A 2002 parking report by Rich And Associates found that the downtown had a 1,300-space deficit.
“The residents really need to support their own town,” Groom said. “Finally, after 88 years, it would be great.”
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