By JOHN T. WARD
The borough council is expected to have specifications ready for approval in two weeks for the hiring of a parking consultant, Mayor Pasquale Menna said in limited comments on the topic during the bimonthly council meeting.
Afterward, Menna told redbankgreen that while “there are no drawings, no schematics, no proposals by anybody” for a garage, a professional consultant is needed to advise the borough on its options in terms of how the White Street lot might be used for garage.
The professional would be selected on a request-for-proposals basis, Menna said. “We want to see people who’ve done these sorts of things before,” he said.
And why now?
“There’s a sense that the commercial aspect of Red Bank is moving forward,” he said. “Part of it is about moving forward, maximizing the interest we have in commercial development.”
The issue of a White Street garage has made recurring appearances over the past dozen or so years.
• In 2001 and 2005, plans for a garage were scuttled in the face of heated public opposition. Both times, Menna, then a councilman, opposed the plans because, he said, they would saddle residents, rather than investors, with $8 million or more in debt.
• In 2007, town officials met with representatives of Trader Joe’s about the possibility the food retailer might build a store with a parking garage atop it in the White Street lot. The concept went nowhere, however, and Trader Joe’s later opened a store in Shrewsbury.
• In 2009, Menna reported that the borough was “darn close” to solving the vexing issue of how to make a new garage self-sustaining, so that the costs of a potential failure don’t get put on the backs of taxpayers.
• In November, 2011, Menna announced plans to appoint up to three professionals with expertise in redevelopment – a lawyer, a planner and an architect – to give town officials guidance on the ins and outs of getting a parking deck built. The appointments never happened.