Friday, August 2, 2013

Electric vehicle zips around Ridgefield Park

RIDGEFIELD PARK - Gerard Garofalow, a lifelong Ridgefield Park resident, is committed to the environmental well-being of the Village he loves.
In order to be environmentally conscious, Garofalow, who lives in his family home, built in 1887, has recently begun traveling through town in a custom-built electric golf car. The vehicle, which resembles an old-fashioned fire truck of yesteryear, is replete with a Yamaha motor and chassis, and a body by Yesteryear Karts, according to Garofalow.
Garofalow is a former fire chief who served as a volunteer with the Village fire department for 50 years.
He realized that all but three streets in Ridgefield Park, excluding the highways, post 25 mph speed limits. Per New Jersey law, golf carts may be driven on any public road with that speed limit.
Stephen Quinn, a Village resident and member of the Ridgefield Park Environmental Commission, said, "Before proceeding and having an electric car specially made for him and his wife, Arlene, [Garofalow] did his due diligence and gained approval from the Ridgefield Park Board of Commissioners, the Environmental Commission, and the police department."
Garofalow, who made his career as a brick layer and as a building inspector for the Village, said the golf car is an economical and environmentally sound way to have mobility around town.
The car travels 65 miles on a single charge, and, as he is using the car as his primary mode of transportation around the Village, "hardly goes to the gas station anymore."
Garofalow believes the electric vehicle is great for the downtown business district, as it is "convenient, easy to use and easy to park."
He has become somewhat of a local celebrity, as he arrives at the weekly concert in the park in his eye-catching and conversation-inspiring vehicle.
Garofalow upgraded the vehicle to have seatbelts and doors, to accommodate his wife, who refused to ride in it without the security measure. The car also has an enhanced motor, to "make it up the hills in Ridgefield Park" and an automatic water system and battery saver, Garofalow explained. The car costs approximately $18,000.
"Not only does the vehicle conserve energy because it operates on electricity at slower speeds, it is also very good for local merchants as it encourages shopping locally in the Village," added Quinn.
Garofalow and his wife Arlene, also raised their eight children in the Village.
Mayor George Fosdick, who knows Garofalow since childhood, said, "I think the wave of the future is here. These cars make great sense in a small town. They are quiet, convenient and economical to operate."
"In fact, some of our merchants have expressed interest in purchasing these vehicles for deliveries, as they attract a good deal of attention. I think it’s neat!"