Anyway, my latest frustration was in reading the quotes attributed to me in the North Jersey.com story about the Board of Ed declining to participate in another Planning Board hearing. A quote from me about "moving forward" made it sound like I wanted to "move on." That isn't what I said or meant! So, I’d like to reprint here my comments from Monday night and, through the magic of the Internet, improve those comments further in order to make myself as clear as possible.
Monday night, I started by looking at the lengthy invitation (resolution) from the Planning Board. There were page after page of whereas this and whereas that. And then on page 5 they finally got to the point:
WHEREAS, although not an "official" action pursuant to law, the Planning Board wishes to memorialize its vote to confirm its intent to create an amicable forum and opportunity for open dialogue among the persons in interest, recognizing that an opportunity to be heard and to have issues vetted is appropriate for the community.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Planning Board of the Village of Ridgewood does hereby memorialize its vote "to invite and encourage" the BOE to attend an additional courtesy review meeting, together with the neighbors of the subject Properties for purpose of discussing the issues of field lighting for RHS and Stevens fields…
Monday night, I said that if the point of the proposed hearing (or “courtesy review”) was to give persons an opportunity to be heard and have open dialogue, then we don’t need the Planning Board to do that. Yes, I facetiously did say that we have plenty of space at the Ed Center to hold meetings and have dialogue. But I also said to my colleagues on the Board and to Dr. Fishbein that if our position is that we are already working with the neighbors to resolve our differences, then we need to keep working with the neighbors. We need to keep moving forward and show progress.
We tried to meet with the neighbors to get input on the Fields Policy, and they didn’t want to participate – choosing to wait for a decision regarding the Planning Board. Now that we’ve made our decision, we need to answer the neighbors on our own.
My concern is that we “on the inside” – on the Board and in the Ed Center – feel like we’re making progress (and we are), but it doesn’t look that way from the outside. We already know the answers to many of the neighbors’ questions. We’ve taken steps on things like signage at the fields and porta-johns and revisions to the Fields Policy and communicating standards of conduct to athletes. We on the Board know these things are happening – and that’s part of the reason we don’t feel the need to go to a Planning Board hearing. But we have not done a good job of communicating this information.
We have been talking about a “master list of concerns,” with answers and solutions, which will be shared with the neighbors and the entire community. We’ve been talking about the list for over a month, but we haven’t accomplished it yet. (Note: Monday night Dr. Fishbein updated the Board…the list will be done soon.)
I know we have the answers. I know we are or will be taking steps to address everything. I have no doubt and I am quite secure in the “rightness” of the things we’re doing. But I can see that from the outside, the answers and the info aren’t visible.
I don’t want to just keep inviting the neighbors to meetings where we “listen.” There’s really no reason for us to keep hearing the same concerns and the same questions. We have some answers, we'll get some more, let's start sharing them.
As I said Monday night, I am opposed to participating in a Planning Board hearing, but I say that with the understanding that, in my opinion, we need to that we are putting the neighbors’ concerns to bed.
(Note: The Board will send an official response to the Planning Board and I'll post it here when it's available.)