Ridgewood Council Addresses Warner Theater Closure and Infrastructure Concerns

In the latest meeting of the Ridgewood Village Council, the impending closure of the cherished Warner Theater took center stage, with discussions on its future and the community’s strong desire to preserve the historic site. Residents and council members alike voiced unanimous support for the theater, considering its conversion into a performing arts center. Alongside this, the meeting addressed a spectrum of infrastructure issues, including road safety, the Blue Acres program, and environmental concerns surrounding the Shedler property.

Mayor Paul Vagianos, expressing deep sadness over the Warner Theater’s closure, underscored the theater’s historical significance and its emotional resonance within the community. He outlined a vision to restore the beloved cinema to its former glory, potentially repurposing it as a performing arts venue. The sentiment was echoed by council members who supported the initiative and discussed plans for its development. Middle school students, impassioned to save the theater, presented a petition with over 300 signatures, advocating to retain part of the theater for movie screenings and events. Their anecdotes and persuasive plea highlighted the cultural and historical significance of the theater to Ridgewood’s residents.

The council also tackled the topic of traffic and pedestrian safety. Concerns were raised about conditions on Clinton Avenue and West Saddle River Road, with suggestions for improvements such as the installation of sidewalks and speed bumps. Steven Del Persio, chairperson of the Central Business District Advisory Committee, suggested promoting the “Destination Ridgewood” brand and revisiting dining corral dates to enhance local engagement. Council members discussed the need to swiftly restore parking restrictions on Ran Court to alleviate residents’ concerns. Cynthia O, praising the middle school students’ advocacy, shared her own nostalgic experiences at the Warner Theater, further emphasizing the community’s connection to the venue.

Infrastructure maintenance and property development were other focal points, with several residents addressing the Shedler property’s future. Issues such as potholes, soil contamination, and neighborhood opposition to the proposed artificial turf were brought forth. Susan Ruan praised the council’s handling of utility repairs, while Stan Kakula and Luis Lopez highlighted flooding issues, urging the council to provide solutions. Christina Millian sought clarity on the Shedler house’s certificate of occupancy and the neighborhood’s role in its future use. In response, Council members Evan Weitz and Siobhan Winograd acknowledged the community’s concerns, with Weitz announcing the upcoming resurfacing of West Saddle River Road and Winograd supporting public involvement in the Warner Theater’s redevelopment.

Councilwoman Siobhan Winograd reported on community initiatives, including the Elder dinner program’s recognition and the planned Pride Day. Councilman Weitz highlighted the importance of public participation in budget discussions and promoted local community events.

During the meeting, Director Cby presented requests for service contracts vital to utility operations. These included essential water treatment chemicals, infrastructure maintenance contracts, and laboratory testing of water samples. The council also considered the CFO’s recommendations on land taxes for Water Utility-owned properties and the codification of interest rates and penalties for late bill payments.

The council engaged in discussions about the Zbrisky house and the Zisy Shedler House, with the latter being considered as a community space for the Ridgewood Newcomers organization. The potential for broader community involvement in the space was debated, with Mayor Vagianos expressing interest in the idea and emphasizing the historical and financial benefits. The meeting also included deliberations on the rehabilitation and replacement of trunk lines, tree removal concerns, and Japanese knotweed, with the council committed to restoring any affected areas.

Public comment provided a platform for residents to voice their concerns on various topics, from soil contamination at the Shedler site to the bidding process for council contracts. Mayor Vagianos acknowledged the need for transparency and compliance with state requirements. Deputy Mayor Pamela R. Perron and Councilman Weitz addressed concerns about the bidding process, highlighting the specialized nature of certain projects and the protection measures for taxpayers.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Paul Vagianos
City Council Officials:
Pamela R. Perron, Lorraine Reynolds, Evan Weitz, Siobhan Winograd

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