Heritage Tree Controversy, Local Safety Concerns, and Potential Brewpubs Discussed at Ridgewood Council Meeting

The recent Ridgewood Council meeting was marked by contentious discussion over the revocation of a local tree’s Heritage status, concerns about pedestrian safety and traffic issues, and the prospective introduction of microbreweries and brewpubs in the downtown area. The meeting also addressed various other community matters, including the approval of contracts for public services and potential collaborations for grant applications.

The most notable issue of the session revolved around a local tree’s Heritage status. The tree was nominated and approved for this status without the involvement or knowledge of the village, leading to confusion and miscommunication among council members and residents. Councilmember Siobhan Winograd questioned the nomination process and why the village was not included, emphasizing that the evaluation and naming process should involve the village and local community members. Mayor Paul Vagianos clarified that the village had not been approached to sign the right of access agreement, leading to the misunderstanding. Despite the Heritage Tree program being rescinded, the Mayor affirmed that the Big Tree program remained in operation.

Residents expressed concerns about pedestrian safety, particularly regarding parking and traffic. Cynthia O’Keef suggested conducting a traffic safety study and considering air pollution levels in the area. Responding to these concerns, Mayor Vagianos emphasized the importance of using the pedestrian strobe light feature at intersections equipped with flashing crosswalk lights and urged residents to utilize the available safety measures.

The council also considered a proposal to introduce microbreweries and brewpubs to the village. The members agreed that the downtown area and the SE zone north of downtown would be suitable locations for such establishments. One council member, Evan Weitz, raised concerns about the size of the breweries but was reassured that the proposed locations would be suitable for microbreweries rather than large-scale operations.

Various contracts and proposals were also reviewed during the meeting. The council approved a one-year contract with Millennistrategies, a grant firm, to provide various services to the village, including research on grant opportunities and project support. Several public service contracts were renewed, including those with Valley Community Health for nursing services and the Health Department for cosmetology inspection services for the borough of Norwood.

The council also discussed the possibility of upgrading the call boxes in the village for enhanced emergency response capabilities and considered changing the vendor for billing basic life support services for ambulance calls. Both initiatives were approved.

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