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RED BANK: APARTMENT PLAN RETURNS

A view of the proposed project, as seen from the opposite side of West Front Street. (Rendering by Rotwein + Blake. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

After several months of dormancy, one of Red Bank’s more hotly disputed land-use proposals is expected to return next week.

The owners of the vacant downtown lot at 55 West Front Street are scheduled to try once again to win approval for a 35-unit apartment building that the zoning board shot down almost a year ago, triggering a series of measures that split the borough council for much of the year.

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RED BANK: FEDS TAKE ON ‘SEGREGATION’ CASE

The Red Bank Charter School, on Oakland Street, hotly disputes allegations that the borough schools are “segregated” as a result of its enrollment practices. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03As requested three months ago by two advocacy groups, the federal Justice Education Department is investigating allegations of segregation leveled at the Red Bank Charter School, correspondence obtained by redbankgreen on Tuesday showed.

The decision by the department’s Office of Civil Rights to open an investigation “in no way implies that the OCR has made a determination with regard to its merit,” a government letter to the complainants said.

But the revelation set off a fresh round of sniping in a bitter battle over the charter school’s existence.

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RUMSON: UTILITIES TO GO BELOW RIVER

Natural gas and water supply lines are to be tunneled beneath the Shrewsbury River between Rumson Road in Rumson, above, and Sea Bright. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Residents of Rumson and Sea Bright may see an unusual construction project as early as next month, when two utility companies run new service lines connecting the towns 25 feet below the floor of the Shrewsbury River.

Municipal and utility officials said they expect minimal disruption to traffic during the monthlong project, when New Jersey Natural Gas and New Jersey-American Water plan to drill beneath the river from Sea Bright to Rumson and then pull about a quarter-mile of piping across the span.

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RED BANK: PARK, VACANT SITES ON AGENDA

The council may authorize the creation of a concept plan to turn the former landfill at West Sunset Avenue into a park.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The Red Bank council has a packed agenda for its semimonthly meeting Wednesday night, including possible progress toward a long-dreamed-of new park on the West Side and some bad news for landlords who neglect vacant properties.

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RED BANK: PARKING FORUM OPENS ‘DIALOGUE’

Red Bank “is losing its position as a walking community” in part because of a lack of parking, said Joel McFadden, a White Street jeweler who served as event moderator.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Hoping to get a “dialogue” going with residents about the need for a downtown parking garage, Red Bank merchants hosted a town hall meeting that drew dozens to the borough middle school Monday night.

There, members of the Red Bank Business Alliance served up their perspectives on what they see as a longstanding problem that’s worsened in recent years under a changeover from a retail economy to one driven by restaurants and entertainment.

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RED BANK: HAMPTON INN WINS APPROVAL

Peter Steck, a planner hired by an opponent of the proposed hotel, testified that the developer was “stuffing” the one-acre site. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

After nearly seven years of battles, a proposed hotel at the northernmost entrance to Red Bank won approval Monday night.

The planning board’s OK of a six-story, 76-room Hampton Inn at the foot of the Route 35 Cooper’s Bridge came after a last-minute concession by the developer.

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RED BANK: TOUTING A ‘SIMPLE’ PARKING FIX

Downtown property owner John Bowers hired an architect to show the borough what it might build without involving a private developer. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Instead of trying to entice a private developer with high-profit-margin sweeteners like apartments and retail space, what if Red Bank addressed its downtown parking problem simply by building a “pure” garage itself?

That’s what landlord John Bowers wants to know, and he’s on a campaign to head off the borough’s White Street redevelopment effort before it leads both taxpayers and merchants over a cliff.

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RED BANK: SANCTUARY CITY STATUS ON TABLE

A sign installed by the Human Relations Committee in Veteran’s Park at Riverside Avenue and West Front Street in 2011. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Even as President Donald Trump threatens to cut federal funding to so-called “sanctuary cities” across America, Red Bank may adopt the designation, redbankgreen has learned.

In response to requests by residents, the borough’s Human Relations Committee is expected to discuss the issue later this month, said Chairman David Pascale.

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RED BANK: PARKING FORUM SLATED

Does downtown Red Bank need a new parking garage? If so, how big should it be, what else should it include, and who should pay for it?

Questions like those will be on the table at a town-hall style meeting slated for Monday, February 6.

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RED BANK: SUIT FILED OVER GARAGE HEIGHT

Cindy Burnham, seen here at a candidate’s forum last October, during her unsuccessful council re-election campaign. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

LicPlate1A group of Red Bank residents formed by former Councilwoman Cindy Burnham filed suit Monday to derail efforts to build a garage for at least 773 vehicles in the heart of town.

Burnham, who failed in her re-election bid as a Republican-turned-independent in November after one term, said although she supports the construction of a garage, the eight-story structure permitted under a redevelopment plan authorized by the council last week is “just too high.”

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RED BANK: FOOTWEAR, FRUIT BOWLS, FACIALS

The Doc Shoppe, which moved to Red Bank from Fair Haven in 2014, plans to close at the end of March. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

retail churn smallRed Bank’s last-remaining shoe store is closing.

This edition of redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn includes news on the departure of the Doc Shoppe; the opening of an exotic-fruit bar and café; and plans by a high-end beauty products retailer to open downtown. Read More »

RED BANK: CHARTER FOES ALLEGE FALSE DATA

rbcs graduation 061516 2Attendees at the charter school’s graduation ceremony in Riverside Gardens Park last June. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The Red Bank Charter School engaged in “outright fabrication” of data used to support its pending request for a five-year charter extension, opponents alleged Thursday.

The purported falsification, concerning the numbers of resident white and Hispanic children who attend private and parochial schools, was used “in a deliberate attempt to mislead the state Department of Education and to perpetuate the myth that the taxpayer-funded 200-student school reflects the pre-K through 8th grade demographics of the community,” according to two groups seeking a shutdown of the school over alleged civil rights issues.

The charter school dismissed the allegations.

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RED BANK: LONGTIME MUNICIPAL JUDGE DIES

himelman 030316 5Judge William Himelman swearing in a defendant last year.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

people-in-the-newsRed Bank municipal court Judge William Himelman died Thursday, according to Mayor Pasquale Menna. He was 85 years old.

The circumstances and place of his death were not immediately available.

Believed to have been New Jersey’s longest-serving local court jurist in modern times, if not state history, Himelman presided on the borough bench for 38 years. Long past the age at which others in his position retired, he doled out justice to everyone from cellphone-gabbing motorists and drunk drivers to a pair of men who squared off while naked.

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RED BANK: PARKING PLANS SOLICITED

basie parking 012517 2Count Basie Theatre security worker Dennis O’Keefe working the entrance to the borough hall parking lot Wednesday night. A restaurant owner cited theater activity for creating parking issues last weekend. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

LicPlate1An effort to coax a 773-vehicle garage into the heart of Red Bank cleared another speedbump Wednesday night.

At its semimonthly meeting, the borough council authorized a request for proposals, or RFP, from developers interested in building on the 2.3-acre municipal lot on White Street.

But first, it tweaked the requirements to be more environmentally friendly.
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RED BANK: PARKING CHANGES ON AGENDA

rb plow 021314On the agenda: a change to the ordinance on overnight street parking in winter. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

LicPlate1A possible 773-vehicle garage on White Street isn’t the only parking issue on the Red Bank council’s agenda Wednesday night.

At its semimonthly meeting, the governing body is expected to take action on a number of matters that would tweak parking downtown as well as in residential neighborhoods.

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RED BANK: WHITE STREET PARKING ON AGENDA

rb-parking-white-st-111316-1Got a parking plan for White Street? The borough will accept proposals from qualified developers until April 26. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Park it 2017A call for ideas to remake the White Street lot into a parking garage anchors a busy Red Bank council agenda Wednesday night.

Up for discussion for the the first time is a request for proposals, or RFP, to transform the 2.3-acre municipal parking lot on White Street into a facility that nearly triples the current capacity of 273 vehicles while adding, possibly, housing and retail space.

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RED BANK: WOMEN PLAN ‘NONPARTISAN’ RALLY

riverside-gardens-park-0917162A gathering to reaffirm Red Bank’s “inclusiveness and tolerance” is planned at Riverside Gardens Park the day after the Trump inauguration. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

[REPOSTING OF JANUARY 9 ARTICLE, with additional details about who’s speaking.]

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03A group of Red Bank-area women have obtained an OK to hold an open-air rally for human rights and other concerns one day after the Trump inauguration.

The newly formed group, called the Greater Red Bank Women’s Initiative, won approval Monday from the borough government’s special events committee to hold a rally in Riverside Gardens Park on Saturday, January 21, according to Ellen Herman, one of the organizers.

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RED BANK: GUT JOB, BUT NO EATERY FOR NOW

39 e front 011817Architect Jim Monteforte details proposed facade changes to 39 East Front Street, seen below, at Wednesday night’s planning board meeting. (Photo by John T. Ward. Rendering below by Monteforte Architects. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

39 e front 071514A proposed makeover of a bunker-like building in downtown Red Bank won unanimous approval from the borough planning board Wednesday night.

But the board held off on allowing the building’s new owners to create a restaurant on the ground floor.

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RED BANK: OPEN-AIR STAIR MAY BE ENCLOSED

Designed by Red Bank architect Jerome Morley Larson in the 1970s, the open-air stairway would be enclosed as shown below if the plan is approved.  (Photo by John T. Ward; rendering by SOME Architects. Click to enlarge)

[UPDATE: The planning board hearing on this proposal has been rescheduled to February 2.]

By JOHN T. WARD

7 broad elevation 011617For the second time in less than four years, proposed changes to one of downtown Red Bank’s most distinctive buildings are slated for review by the borough zoning board Thursday night.

The plan for 7 Broad Street calls for enclosing the building’s unusual open-air staircase and refacing the building as shown at right, along with converting second-floor offices to apartments.

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RED BANK: BLUE LINE HONORS LAW ENFORCERS

RB blue line 011317 4rb blue line 011317 3A crew from Alert Traffic Lines painted a vivid blue line along Broad Street in downtown Red Bank Friday in support of local law enforcement. The borough-based company, owned by John and Michael Garofalo, paid for the project, which the borough council authorized by resolution in December.

The line was laid between existing double yellow lines in spite of objections voiced elsewhere by the federal Department of Transportation that they’re unsafe because the pavement between the yellow lines is not visible. Councilman and Police Commissioner Mike Whelan told redbankgreen in a statement that he and Chief Darren McConnell disagree with the DOT. 

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RED BANK: PARKING NEWS

rb broad st 011217Under a recommendation of the council parking committee, the left-turn lane from Broad Street into Linden Lane would be eliminated, restoring three parking spaces on the west side of Broad. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

LicPlate1For the first time in recent months, the clamor for and against a new parking garage in downtown Red Bank was absent at the first regular council meeting of 2017 Wednesday night.

Still, there was a smattering of parking-related news.

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RED BANK: NO LEAD IN WATER, OFFICIAL SAYS

al larotonda 011117Alberto Larotonda brought his ruptured water line, complete with a connector made of lead, to the council meeting. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Extensive testing of Red Bank water has found no evidence of lead contamination, despite the presence of lead pipes serving some homes, a borough official said Wednesday night.

The remarks by public utilities Director Cliff Keen, made during the council’s first semimonthly meeting of 2017, came after a resident showed off  a water service line with a lead connector that was recently excavated outside his Spring Street home.

“For more than 20 years, I’ve been drinking out of a lead straw,” Alberto Larotonda told the council.

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