BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO
Residents, community leaders and local activists revisited various issues and concerns affecting Ridgewood during the Ridgewood Tenants and Neighborhood Association‘s (RTNA) public forum, “Ridgewood: Your Voices, Your Issues,” on Monday at the Ridgewood Library.
“This is a way of starting a conversation and a way to bring together a lot of different people in the neighborhood,” RTNA co-founder and moderator Glenn Dyer said.
The group broke up into four different sections, each representing a specific topic or issue facing Ridgewood: housing, economic development, transportation and the environment.
Paul Kerzner, former Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA) president, chaired the housing group. He expounded on his idea of forming tenant co-ops set forth in the first forum back in February, using the analogy of geese flying together in a “V” formation to illustrate the need for Ridgewood’s many tenants to band together in their pursuit of affordable housing.
“Individual tenants in Ridgewood cannot get to their destination by themselves,” he said. “If they fly in formation and work together in a building, they can accomplish their end.”
According to Kerzner’s plan, tenants living in buildings with four to six units could feasibly purchase each unit for roughly $200,000 each, becoming co-owners of the building itself. By qualifying for mortgages and available federal loans, he estimated monthly out-of-pocket costs to be roughly $1,340, much less than the average rent in Ridgewood.
Ted Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), moderated the Local Economy group. Many residents voiced concerns regarding overdevelopment of Ridgewood and the sale of large retail properties to outside brokers and entities.
“We need to preserve Myrtle Avenue for the mom-and-pop shops and smaller entrepreneurs,” Renz said. “Our goal is to have input into getting a better store mix for our community.”
Many residents spoke in favor of a proposed six-to-nine-month moratorium on liquor licenses due to the sharp uptick in bars and nightlife venues in Ridgewood. “It’s oversaturation,” Renz said.
RTNA co-founder Matt Peterson agreed: “There are already a number of bars in Ridgewood. It’s not just a business. It attracts a whole culture.”
John Maier, co-chair of the Community Board 5 Public Transit Committee, led the transportation group. According to Maier, the biggest issue facing local transit is the loss of funding on a federal level.
“Our transportation fund has run out and is operating on a month-to-month basis,” he said. “We need to figure out how to get the money for better service.”
Professor Stephanie Wakefield managed the local environment group. Topics and ideas generated from this group included replacing the trash cans on Fresh Pond Road, community field trips to the Ridgewood Reservoir, poor air quality at the Fresh Pond Road bus depot and the need for additional green spaces in the neighborhood.
“People would really like to find a way to create more green space that is not a playground,” Wakefield said.
CB 5 member Henry Cross proposed holding a legislative forum in which area elected officials could address these topics.
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