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Ridgewood Brainstorms Ways To Keep Older People In Town

Beth Abbott of the Age-Friendly Ridgewood Initiative.
Beth Abbott of the Age-Friendly Ridgewood Initiative. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Donald Liebreich of the Age-Friendly Ridgewood Initiative.
Donald Liebreich of the Age-Friendly Ridgewood Initiative. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — The Age-Friendly Ridgewood Initiative invites the public to a forum next Wednesday to brainstorm ways to keep older people from leaving the village.

Billed as a community conversation, “Making Ridgewood Age Friendly” is to take place 7-9 p.m. in the Ridgewood Public Library Auditorium.

The event trails a Ridgewood 55 And Older Survey mailed last October to all 6,000 village residents in the age group. It was sent by a subcommittee of the Ridgewood Community Center Advisory Board, which is spearheading the project.

“We wanted to find out why people are leaving, what would make them stay, and what they need,” said Beth Abbott, 58, one of nine members of the initiative. “So many people raise their kids here and then leave.”

One of the drivers for the project, she said, was an AARP list rating towns on their age friendliness. Ridgewood scored 56 out of 100.

The survey was funded by a $24,000 planning grant from The Henry And Marilyn Taub Foundation, according to Abbott.

“They have three subsequent yearly grants coming up that we have to apply for in the fall,” she said. “They’re $75,000 each. They’re doing that for five Bergen County towns and we’re one.”

The others are Englewood, Garfield, Teaneck, and Westwood.

In Ridgewood, the local survey got 717 responses.

Twenty-three percent of those who took it said they planned to leave Ridgewood while 43 percent were unsure. A total of 34 percent said they planned to stay.

When asked the primary reasons for considering a move, respondents were allowed to choose more than one. Eighty-five percent cited high taxes and 59 percent, home expenses.

Other reasons given were “house too big,” “housing options not affordable,” “lack of support services” and “transportation difficulties.”

“If they don’t drive, they’ve got a problem with transportation because there is basically none available here in Ridgewood,” said Donald Liebreich, 89, another member of the initiative.

On the positive side, Abbott said, respondents said Ridgewood is beautiful, safe, and has great health care.

The forum on Wednesday, however, will focus on the problem areas, which also include keeping pedestrians safe, helping homeowners with difficult tasks, and using the expertise of older residents in the community.

For more information, write Ridgewood55OverSurvey@gmail.com or call 201-652-1614.

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