LOOSE ENDS 1: A ROOFER’S GREEN ROOF

Roof1

We call this entry, and the two just below, ‘Loose Ends,’ because we’re taking a moment as the calendar changes to 2007 to update redbankgreen readers on a couple of stories from our first few months in business.

This one concerns roofer Joe Ruffini and the environmentally friendly ‘green’ roof he started building atop his Maple Avenue house earlier this year.

Well, it’s finished, with a flagstone deck, flower planters, a covered ‘fire pit’ table in the center, and irregularly shaped patches of sod in the four corners.

Read More »

LOOSE ENDS 2: THE HOUSE OF LADDERS

Ladder_redux1

First, in late June, we featured the ladder in a tree in our ‘Where Have I Seen This?’ feature.

Then came the complaints from neighbors. Not funny, they said, in essence. In fact, downright dangerous. Not to mention ugly.

So a month later, we zeroed in on the house at 236 Broad Street to ask: Yeah, what’s with the rusty ladder stuck in the groin of the large, dead tree out front? And why has that ladder, and a taller one tied to the roof of the house, been there for more than a year?

Read More »

LOOSE ENDS 3: FLIP OR FLOP?

Sarah_house2

Remember that attempt to flip a house on Madison Avenue we told you about in June?

Well, the house remains unsold 18 months after an investor bought it, at the top of the market, for $475,000 $450,000. Sara Swanson, the New York woman who oversaw its renovation—and lived amid the disarray of construction—is moving on. And the investor who bankrolled the project has decided to keep the house for himself, we’re told.

Read More »

WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

Where12_28_1

Last week’s ‘Where,’ we figured, was an easy one. And, in fact, several readers wrote in to correctly identify the image: a fire hydrant wrapped in black plastic on River Road in Fair Haven, near the corner of Lincoln Avenue.

Congrats are in order, by the way, to Susan McLaughlin, a Realtor with Keller Williams Realty, for being the first.

What we did not expect though, was this intriguing reply late yesterday from blogging Fair Haven Mayor-elect Michael Halfacre to our inquiry as to why the hydrant appears to be in mourning:

The wrapping is due to a lack of water pressure to those hydrants from the Red Bank water utility. Our FD chose to wrap them, as they are not up to snuff for fighting fires.

The lack of water pressure to the Fair Haven homes served by RB water is an ongoing problem. We are attempting to address it now. (You may read b/t the lines here.)

Uh-oh.

Read More »

ZONING OUT POTENTIAL CONFLICTS

Just_in_15

Larry Higgs of the Asbury Park Press has a story today about how new rules aimed at weeding out conflicts-of-interest at zoning and planning board meetings are being applied.

Does the fact that a board member works at a marina where a an applicant for a variance docks his boat mean the board member should recuse himself? How about when an applicant and a board member live on the same block?

Read More »

GODFATHER OF SOUL DIES

James Brown, the Godfather of Soul and “hardest working man in show business,” has died at age 73.

James_brown_1

He was hospitalized Sunday for pneumonia in Atlanta, where he died early Christmas morning, his agent said.

Brown was scheduled to appear at the Count Basie Theatre on Dec. 30. The theatre’s website notes Brown’s passing early “with a profound sense of sadness.” Brown had given a rousing show at the theatre’s 2005 Gala.

Read More »

RB LEADS NJ IN HISPANIC STUDENT JUMP

Img_1010_1

Red Bank led all 623 school districts statewide in Hispanic student enrollment growth from 2000 to 2006, according to a report in today’s Star-Ledger.

An analysis by the state’s largest newspaper found that 57.9 percent of students in the Red Bank schools are today Hispanic, up 32.8 percent in the past six years.

Not coincidentally, Red Bank also led the state in terms of percentage decrease in African-American student enrollment, to 28.3 percent of the total, a drop of 26.7 percent in six years.

In three of the cities cited in the article—Red Bank, New Brunswick and Plainfield—”Hispanic children are actually replacing the black population in the schools,” the Ledger reports.

Read More »

DON’T TOUCH THAT CABLE!

Barlett2

Look, you’ve been through this before. So you should know by now whether you’ve got the patience to set up the new computer, digital camera or i-Pod that you’ll be giving or receiving as a gift this month.

For those who don’t, or would simply prefer to sit back and enjoy themselves while someone who knows what he’s doing tackles the job of physical set-up and software installation, computer whiz Dylan Barlett is home for the holidays and ready to lend a hand for a modest fee.

“A gift should make you feel good, not be a source of frustration,” says Barlett, a 20-year-old Little Silver resident. “I want to leave everyone with a stable computer they can use and enjoy.”

Read More »

LIBRARY UPGRADES BEHIND SCHEDULE

Library1

The remodeling of the Red Bank Public Library will take up to three months longer than planned, in part because of the discovery of asbestos in a chimney, the Asbury Park Press reports today.

From the story:

The West Front Street borough library is now not expected to reopen until March because of asbestos removal and a utility’s delay in installation of new electrical service, library officials said.

“That (electrical work) has been done, but it took a while to get done,” said Jane Eigenrauch, adult services librarian. “The asbestos is in an old chimney area and has to be properly removed, and the schedule is to do it next Thursday or Friday.”

Email this story

RETAIL TEMPERATURE: JUST WARM ENOUGH

With a couple of critical days left in the holiday shopping season, it would appear that the consensus among downtown merchants is that this year’s cash-register Holidaysales1activity, while not booming, is at acceptable levels.

redbankgreen hit the pavement late Wednesday afternoon for a completely unscientific sampling of viewpoints from behind the sales counters.

Here’s what folks were saying.

Read More »

WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

Where12_21

Garden gnome put out for trash pickup? Street sculpture? Munchkin in a rainproof burka?

Perhaps the arresting figure shown here isn’t such a mystery to you. But where is it? If you know, or think you do, Email your guesses to us, please.

Read More »

WATERY MYSTERY AT MIDDLE SCHOOL

Call_in_the_authorities_1

Today’s Asbury Park Press has a story about an effort to explain what appears to be soaring water usage at the Red Bank Middle School, which tripled in the July-October billing period, to 1,500 gallons per day.

So far, plumbers, public works officials and heating-and-cooling professionals have been stumped. The water meter is working properly, officials say, but there’s no sign of a leak or open tap.

Read More »

HOVNANIAN CAUGHT OFF GUARD

Hovnanian_new

Red Bank-based Hovnanian Enterprises was blindsided by the swift drop in values on its inventoried land, the company acknowledged yesterday in reporting a $115 million fourth-quarter loss.

“We did not anticipate the suddenness or magnitude of the fall in pricing that occurred this year in many of our communities,” the company said in a statement on Monday. “Our profitability, and the pace of new home sales, in our markets continues to be adversely impacted by high contract cancellation rates, increases in the number of resale listings, and increases in the number of new homes available for sale.”

The downturn occurred just as the company began moving into its gleaming new digs overlooking the Navesink River.

Yet the homebuilding giant forecast a profitable 2007. Chief Executive Ara Hovnanian said he’s “started to see a glimmer of hopeful indicators that the markets may be stabilizing,” according to MarketWatch.

Read More »

COME ON IN, THE WATER’S NUMBING.

As in the past, the fourth annual New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge organized by the Sons of Ireland will raise money for a couple of worthy causes.

Pbears1

The beneficiaries of this year’s Sea Bright dip are Clean Ocean Action and Challenged Youth Sports, a Lincroft organization that builds parks for kids with disabilities.

But let’s not overlook the very solid, selfish reasons to jump into the Atlantic Ocean on the first day of the year, beginning with the fact that it’s a little insane. If you’re not willing to do something crazy/bold on a day that’s all about fresh starts, when will you, pilgrim? And what’s a better way to prove your commitment to change than to thrust oneself into churning, steel-cold saltwater?

Plus, the experience leaves you with a hard-to-top answer to the workplace question, ‘What did you do this weekend?’

Read More »

McKENNA’S NEXT ACT?

Mckennamontage1

After a continuous, 18-year slog of borough council meetings, planning board sessions and rubber-chicken dinners from here to Trenton, departing Mayor Ed McKenna is about to find some gaping holes in his schedule.

More fundamentally, at age 56, he may also find himself pondering the question, ‘What do I really want to do now?’

Sure, he can golf from LaJolla to Lahinch until he’s red in the face. But really, is that a meaningful way for a man at the peak of his strengths to spend his time?

Yes, he’s got a successful law practice, but he’s been grinding on that wheel, too, for many years. Besides, would the credit union industry really miss one drop-out attorney?

This is the era of self-reinvention, and the possibilities for a person of McKenna’s skills and experience are almost limitless. Radio call-in host. Lobbyist. No Joe’s barista.

There’s almost too much to choose from. But fortunately for McKenna, the readers of redbankgreen are standing by, ready to offer guidance on his next move.

Read More »

ON GOLF, GOVERNANCE AND ‘MEATBALLS’

Now winding down a 16-year stint as Mayor of Red Bank, Edward J. McKenna is scheduled to be feted by borough employees at a party scheduled for 5p Monday, Dec. 18, at the Two River Theater.

Mckennapix1

The event is open to the public. Tickets are $10 each. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be served.

Here’s something else to nosh on. redbankgreen sat down recently with McKenna in a conference room of his law firm, McKenna, DuPont, Higgins & Stone, for a look-back and look-forward interview. And he was as sentimental and pungent as ever.

Read More »

IT HELPS IF THE LANDLORD’S AN ‘UNCLE’

Vacuum

Ten questions for John and Rachel Decker, owners of Graman’s Vacuum & Appliance Parts Co. on Monmouth Street, at the corner of West Street. They live in Tinton Falls.

How long have you owned this business, and who had it before you?
John: We’ve been here for four years. I bought it from Gene Graman—“Uncle Gene,” though he’s no blood relation whatsoever. When I was growing up in River Plaza, Gene was the older guy in the neighborhood who never got married and had all the toys and all the fun: boats, motorcycles, Jet skis, snowmobiles, wave runners. My parents knew him before I was even born.

His shop was in Red Bank for 47 years, and in this location since 1964. He was previously closer to Broad on Monmouth Street. And surprisingly, there was a parking problem then, too.

Read More »

MENNA: WISE, BUSY MAN IN ‘OZ’

A lame-duck councilman in Matawan took the scorched-earth approach to saying goodbye last week, teeing up Mayor Mary Aufseeser as “repugnant,” badmouthing other members of the governing body and likening the town’s political atmosphere to “The Wizard of Oz,” complete with an unseen power broker behind a curtain.

Newmayor1

But one person spared Neil Mendelsohn’s ire, according to a report in the Holmdel Independent, was Borough Attorney Pasquale Menna, the Mayor-elect of Red Bank.

From the story:

“Pat Menna, you are wise. You are eloquent. You are so busy,” Mendelsohn said, then asking Menna to please find time to help his town.

Read More »

‘NICE LITTLE BRICK WALL’ VANISHES

One of Red Bank’s architectural treasures fell to the sledgehammer this week when workmen demolished the intricate brick fence at the United Methodist Church on Broad Street.

Brickwall2

The removal of the wall, apparently prompted by an accelerating state of decay, took longtime Red Bankers by surprise.

“I’m thoroughly disgusted,” said George Bowden, chairman of the Red Bank Historic Preservation Commission who had written to a church elder more than a year ago urging the church to preserve the wall, without receiving a formal reply. “It’s a tearing of the historic fabric of the town of Red Bank.”

Mayor Ed McKenna, whose law office is a few doors north of the church, said he was “shocked” to see that the wall had disappeared from one day to the next.

Church officials did not respond to requests for comment by redbankgreen, which happened upon the scene as the wall was being taken down Tuesday afternoon.

By late Wednesday, every scrap of brick and mortar had been removed, leaving only the poured concrete foundation several inches below the surface of the ground.

Read More »