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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: 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: 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: 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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LINCROFT: A WINTERFEST OF SEASON’S BEST

winterfest thompson pkWhen life gives you winter, make Winterfest, the third annual edition of which returns to Lincroft’s Thompson Park Saturday afternoon.

First of all, there’s little to no chance of any snowy stuff (or really much precip of any kind) in the forecast for this coming Saturday. But even if the season of bare trees and bundled-up people makes itself felt exclusively through the expected chill factor, there’s still plenty to celebrate over at Lincroft’s Thompson Park, where the third annual Winterfest event takes center stage Saturday.

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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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RUMSON’S SWARTZ RE-ELECTED LIBRARY CHAIR

Press release from Monmouth County Library

Renee Swartz Lillian BurryDuring its reorganization meeting held recently at the Eastern Branch Library in Shrewsbury, Renee Swartz of Rumson was unanimously re-elected chair of the Monmouth County Library Commission, a position that the popular long time member has held since 1976.

A graduate of Barnard College, Swartz (left in picture, with Freeholder Lillian Burry) dates her interest in the role of libraries back to the early years of her marriage, when she was asked to volunteer as a survey taker for the American Association of University Women, as a way of determining what educational resources would be offered to the growing population of Monmouth County.

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SHREWSBURY: VISITORS COUNT AT LIBRARY

deer-libraryA deer grazing outside the library in June, 2011. (Photo by Peter Lindner. Click to enlarge.)

Press release from Monmouth County Library

More than half a million books circulated. Close to a quarter of a million visitors. An additional 2400 patrons registered. All part of a very busy 2016 at the Eastern Branch of the Monmouth County Library during 2016, as Branch Manager Kim Avagliano reported to the Monmouth County Library Commission at its recent end of the year meeting.

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RED BANK: MENNA WANTS BOLD, GREEN DECK

menna-whelan-110216Mayor Pasquale Menna, left with Councilman Mike Whelan at the opening of the new cancer treatment wing at Riverview Medical Center in October. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

LicPlate1Parking issues once again dominated as the Red Bank council wrapped up its 2016 meeting schedule Wednesday night.

• Mayor Pasquale Menna sketched out a vision for a environmentally and architecturally bold parking garage on the site of the borough’s White Street parking lot.

• A downtown property owner laid out a plan for erecting a prefab garage that he said would be fast and economical.

• The council extended yet again a moratorium on fees charged to developers of new businesses that win variances for parking shortfalls.

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BUILDING SUPPORT FOR RED BANK LIBRARY

rb library 1 040913Press release from Red Bank Public Library

This week, Red Bank residents will be finding an envelope from their library amongst all the holiday cards in their mailbox. The Foundation for the Red Bank Public Library has recently sent out its third annual appeal in order to build financial support for the Red Bank Public Library’s many programs and collections. During this season of giving, the Foundation hopes to continue the strong tradition of support shown by the Red Bank community.

While the Red Bank Library receives mandated funding, it relies on the generosity of library supporters to strengthen its financial position, allowing the Library to expand its offerings and better serve the community.

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RED BANK: COUNCIL OKs PARKING PLAN

mike-simpson-121416-3Architect Mike Simpson discusses a schematic he created to illustrate that a 650-car garage atop four stories of stores and apartments, with nearby green space, could easily be created in the White Street lot. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

LicPlate1After nearly three hours of public comments Wednesday night, the Red Bank council approved a zoning change that could result in a parking garage in the heart of downtown.

Now, answers to long-deferred questions on what such a facility might look like, and who will pay for it, can begin to take shape, said business and government officials who endorsed the measure.

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RED BANK: PARKING PLAN MAY GROW

rb-parking-white-st-111316-2The council could solicit formal development proposals for the White Street lot if a measure on Wednesday’s agenda is passed. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_01The hottest of hot topics in downtown Red Bank faces a key hurdle this week when a redevelopment plan that could lead to the construction of a massive parking garage in the heart of downtown faces a key vote.

But first, the minimum number of new parking spaces to be created on the present site of the White Street municipal lot could be significantly increased.

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RED BANK: TURF HOLDING UP, SAYS SICKELS

rb-basie-turf-120516-5Rubber-crumb exposure at midfield and the sidelines, below, of the football field at Count Basie Fields is not indicative of the type of turf failure reported elsewhere, says the borough administrator. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb-basie-turf-120516-6Failing artificial-turf playing fields made by an industry-leading manufacturer are not an issue in Red Bank, according to borough Administrator Stanley Sickels.

three-day investigative exposé by NJ.com earlier this week reported that hundreds of turf fields across the United States were beginning to deteriorate long before the eight-to-ten-year life expectancy touted by the Canadian manufacturer, FieldTurf. The company knew about the failures but hid them as it continued to sell the fields, at prices often exceeding $500,000, the report alleged.

But the fields installed by the company at Count Basie Fields here are holding up well, Sickels told redbankgreen.

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RED BANK: UPDATES ON WATER

rb-meter-swap-110216-1An installer with National Metering Services installing a new wireless meter in a Red Bank home earlier this month. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03

Some quick updates on Red Bank water…

The stinky, dirty water that affected some customers earlier this month has been corrected, borough officials tell redbankgreen. But they’re being cautious about turning on the tap too quickly.

And with the townwide water-meter replacement project underway, users should be alert to a change in their billing.

Details on both below.

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RED BANK: LOT OWNERS CAN NOW TRY AGAIN

55 w front 062016The vacant lot at 55 West Front Street, opposite Riverside Gardens Park. (Photo by Google. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Eight months after they were rejected by the Red Bank zoning board, the owners of a vacant lot in downtown Red Bank can now try again to win approval for a 35-unit apartment building on the site.

That’s the upshot of an ordinance adopted by the borough council Monday night after yet another tiebreaker vote by Mayor Pasquale Menna.

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RED BANK: BASIE PARKING DEAL YIELDS GAIN

mike-whelan-110416Councilman Mike Whelan outside borough hall earlier this month.(Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

LicPlate1It may not seem like much, stacked up against a $22.4 million budget. Still, it’s like finding money on the ground, says first-year Red Bank Councilman Mike Whelan.

A deal Whelan initiated that gives the Count Basie Theatre access to the borough hall parking lot across Monmouth Street has netted the borough nearly $14,000 since it went into effect earlier this year, he says.

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SANDY HOOK: BACKERS RALLY TO SAVE HOUSE

sandlass-house-renderingThe Sandlass House, reimagined as a museum, above, and as seen in July, 2015, below. (Rendering by Anderson Campanella Archictects. Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

[See update below]

By JOHN T. WARD
sandlass house 070415 4

A group of preservationists trying to save the last remnants of a long-forgotten Sandy Hook beach resort from the wrecking ball.

Dubbed the Jersey Coast Heritage Museum at Sandlass House, the group has begun circulating a petition calling on the National Park Service, which owns the house as part of Gateway National Recreation Area, not to knock it down, and allow them to turn it into a museum.

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ON THE GREEN: AUTHOR! AUTHOR! AUTHOR!

amy-ellis-nutt-julie-otsukaPulitzer winner Amy Ellis Nutt (above left), National Book Award finalist Julie Otsuka (right), and historical novelist James L. Haley (below) are among the celebrated wordsmiths appearing in the coming days at events in Shrewsbury, Fair Haven and Lincroft.

james-l-haleyThere’s a Pulitzer Prize winner who trained in the trenches of Jersey journalism. A novelist whose credits include a PEN/Faulkner Award and a National Book Award nomination. And a celebrated historian turned master purveyor of “ripping yarn” page-turners.

Apparently the Greater Red Bank Green hasn’t gotten the memo that books are dead, because the joy of reading, and the highly anticipated appearances of some high-profile authors, are alive and well in the coming days and nights.

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RED BANK: STINKY WATER PROMPTS CHANGE

water faucet dripRed Bank reversed its seasonal water supply arrangement after complaints about taste and odor. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03

After a burst of complaints about stinky, foul-tasting water, Red Bank officials reverted to the municipal water supply earlier this week, redbankgreen has learned.

Now, those officials are waiting for New Jersey American Water Company, which supplies the borough’s water for six months of the year, to clear up an algae problem at the Swimming River Reservoir before resuming the flow, they said.

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RED BANK: CLINTON COATTAILS HELPED DEMS

rb voting districts 2014Hillary Clinton won every district in Red Bank but the fifth, lifting the party’s entire ticket. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Election_2016_Plain

She lost at the national level, but Hillary Clinton won Red Bank, and her coattails helped Democrats pull even with Republicans on the borough council Tuesday night, election returns tallied by the Monmouth County Clerk show.

Clinton captured all but one of the but one of Red Bank’s nine voting districts — the fifth — topping president-elect Donald Trump townwide, 2,633 to 1,510. (The figures don’t include mail-in ballots, said borough clerk Pam Borghi.)

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RED BANK: GARAGE DEBATE PREVIEWED

white-st-lot-110816A public hearing on a key measure in the push for a possible garage at the White Street lot, above, is slated for December 14. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

LicPlate1Argument over a potential parking garage for downtown Red Bank dominated the first post-election meeting of the borough council Wednesday night.

No action related to the gradually advancing proposal was on the agenda. But the brief debate may have been an early taste of what’s to come next month, when the council holds a public hearing on a key step in the process.

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