RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — Ask Ridgewood’s new village manager Heather Mailander where she lives and the Hillsdale resident doesn’t miss a beat.
“I always say I live in Ridgewood and sleep in Hillsdale,” she quipped.
“I shop in the village. I eat in the village. I do things within the village.
"Ridgewood is in my heart, always.”
It has been since she was a girl growing up in bordering Ho-Ho-Kus.
Mailander, 55, was appointed to the new position earlier this month.
She also will retain her 28-year position as village clerk.
Her new salary is $192,188, she said. That includes $58,000 for taking on the manager job.
Usually, a manager makes $150,000 to $185,000.
All this means that Mailander, the mother of three boys — two grown, one teen — is a busy person.
As manager, she’ll serve as CEO of the village, which has a council-manager form of government under the state Faulkner Act.
As clerk, she’ll continue to keep records, run elections, do licensing and handle OPRA requests, financial disclosure statements of elected and appointed officials and other day-to-day inquiries.
Mailander looks ahead to a host of challenges in the years ahead.
These include creating multi-family housing and improving the central business district. How?
Potentially by creating a central valet service and building a parking garage on the footprint of the lot on Hudson Street.
“We also are going to have Valley Hospital come to a meeting to give us their plan as to what they will keep on the Ridgewood campus,” Mailander said.
“I hope that by June or July, at the latest, they will be able to come and tell us their plans.”
As she accepts the new responsibility, the new village manager also looked back on one of the coolest moment of her career.
That was in 1992.
President George H.W. Bush, running for re-election, came to Ridgewood to give a speech.
“He arrived by helicopter on Veterans Field. We were fortunate, as employees, to be on the field as well,” Mailander recalled.
She was 20 feet away from him.
“I have not been that close to a sitting president in my life, ever, and it was very exciting,” she said.
But Mailander is most satisfied by helping residents and business owners get things done smoothly and legally.
She’s nowhere near retiring.
“I’ve still got a long way to do,” she said. “I estimate I’ll retire between 12 and 15 years from now.”