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RED BANK: COUNCIL OKS STEP ON PARKING

rb white st 070915 3The planning board was directed to evaluate the borough-owned White Street lot for its “suitability” for a parking garage. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

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After months of silence on the issue, a possible parking garage in downtown Red Bank finally got its wheels on what could be a long up-ramp to reality Wednesday night.

Despite misgivings voiced by Councilwoman Cindy Burnham that doing so might attract “an overload of engineers,” the borough council unanimously agreed to have the the planning board determine whether the municipal lot on White Street “satisfies the criteria for designation as a noncondemnation redevelopment area.”

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RED BANK: BELLHAVEN SPLASH PAD SPUTTERS

bellhaven 110915An entrance to Bellhaven Natural Area on Locust Avenue. A proposed playground would be sited within the of loop the path shown above. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03A controversial plan for a spray park in Red Bank’s Bellhaven Natural Area has all but officially sputtered out.

The borough-owned riverfront lot at the western end of Locust Avenue is still envisioned as the site of a much-needed West Side playground, according to Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer, the governing body’s liaison to the parks and recreation department.

But a spray park or a splash pad that shoots jets of water skyward? That’s done, she tells redbankgreen.

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RED BANK: TENNIS FANS MUSTER FOR COURTS

rb tennis 111015 2The tennis courts, overgrown with weeds since being swamped by Hurricane Sandy three years ago, got a sprucing-up from the borough last week. (Photo by Trish Russoniello. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03As expected, the Red Bank council derailed an ambitious plan for $3.5 million worth of private development on the site of the borough-owned red clay tennis courts in Marine Park Monday night.

Still, a roomful of frustrated tennis enthusiasts packed the council chambers, many of them holding paper signs urging the council to now restore the hurricane-damaged riverfront courts to playability.

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RED BANK: MARINE PARK PROJECTS NIXED

rb tennis 081915 2The clay tennis courts at Marine Park as seen in August. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03All three private-sector proposals for the future of Red Bank’s hurricane-damaged Marine Park clay tennis courts should be rejected, a triumverate of borough council members is expected to say in a report next week.

The recommendation to the full council is being made in spite of the fact that one pitch, by startup Jetsun Enterprises, was far and away the winner on paper. But in the court of public opinion, it was over the line, Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer told redbankgreen on Monday.

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RED BANK: BURNHAM BLASTS PARK DELAY

rb tennis 081915 2The clay tennis courts at Marine Park as seen last month. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Five months after three proposals were submitted, the Red Bank council has yet to receive a recommendation on the future of the hurricane-damaged Marine Park clay tennis courts, and may not get one before election day.

That has Republican Councilwoman Cindy Burnham — who redbankgreen has learned was chastised behind closed doors by her colleagues for saying too much about the issue — ramping up her complaints that there’s something “fishy” going on.

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RED BANK: RIVER PADDLING UNDERWAY

rb paddle 091215Rowers, kayakers, canoers, standup paddlers and others gathered at Red Bank’s Maple Cove Saturday afternoon for the fifth edition of Paddle the Navesink Day. The free, get-aquainted-with-the-waterway event runs until 4 p.m., rain or shine.  (Photo by Trish Russoniello. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: TAKE IT TO THE RIVER

rb paddle day 091414 2Rowers, kayakers, canoers, standup paddlers and the just-plain-interested are invited to Maple Cove this Saturday, when Paddle the Navesink Day offers area residents a new perspective on Red Bank’s most beautiful asset and resource.

It’s about kayaking, canoeing, sailing, rowing, standup paddling. Actually, it’s about the history, culture, and ecology of the waterway from which a vibrant community took shape. Or perhaps more to the point, it’s about the opportunity to get acquainted — or to fall in love all over again — with the greater Red Bank Green’s most beautiful asset, resource, pride and joy.

When the event known as Paddle the Navesink Day returns for a fifth edition this Saturday, September 12, the rain-or-shine, late-summer “free community-wide celebration” will once again represent a unique convergence of local businesses, boating clubs and nonprofit organizations that’s hands-on, oars-in, and ready to make a believer of anyone who might have taken the river’s charms for granted.

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RED BANK: GOP KICKS OFF EARLY CAMPAIGN

whelan taylor 052715Mark Taylor, right, and running mate Mike Whelan were joined by GOP bigwigs for a campaign kickoff on Monmouth Street Wednesday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

After a quarter-century in the minority, will Red Bank Republicans be able to harness their momentum of the last two elections to take control of the borough government?

Getting an early jump on this year’s race for two council seats, the local GOP trotted out some big local names for a kickoff event Wednesday night.

And they held it out on Monmouth Street, just feet away from both borough hall and new parking kiosks they believe symbolize the “arrogance” of Democrats, who now hold a 4-2 majority on the council as well as the mayoralty.

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RED BANK: BELLHAVEN GETS HOSED AGAIN

Bellhaven Wetland Map 1Critics contend the Bellhaven sprayground has little popular support.  (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03It wasn’t on the agenda, but a proposed water playground on Red Bank’s West Side spewed back to the fore Wednesday night.

At issue: whether to keep spending money on prep work for the controversial four-year-old project, which has been temporarily derailed by the discovery of heating oil in the soil.

Counting at least three prospective “no” votes on the six-member council, Republican Cindy Burnham asked: “Why do we continue to use taxpayer money to pay [engineering consultant] T&M Associates for soil testing and permits?”

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RED BANK: GOP TAPS NEWCOMERS FOR RACE

taylor whelan 033015 1Mark Taylor, left, and Mike Whelan, center, with GOP Chairman Sean Di Somma outside borough hall Monday night. Democrats Mike DuPont and Art Murphy, below, on election night 2012. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

dupont murphy 110612Red Bank Republicans, hoping to leverage gains in the last two municipal elections, have set their sights on control of the borough council for the first time in 25 years.

And as in the last election, when all-but-unknown Linda Schwabenbauer emerged as the top vote-getter in a field of four candidates, they’re putting their bets on political newcomers.

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RED BANK: SCHWABENBAUER TAKES OFFICE

schwabenbauer 010415Councilman Mike DuPont snaps a photo as Linda Schwabenbauer, joined by her father, Abe Schwabenbauer, awaits her swearing-in as a council member. Pasquale Menna, below, began his third four-year term as mayor. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

pasquale menna 010415 2One year after Cindy Burnham ended a four-year lock by Democrats, Linda Schwabenbauer became the second Republican on the on the Red Bank council Sunday.

In keeping with recent tradition, however, partisanship was set aside as the annual reorganization of the borough government was marked by pledges of togetherness.

Invoking the way in which college hockey players came to shed their school identities to form the United States Olympic team in 1980, Schwabenbauer said that every member of the six-member council “has a party affiliation or cause, but each of us plays for Red Bank.”

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RED BANK: WATER METER FAQ POSTED

rb water meter 120414 1The project would replace more than 3,800 residential water meters by the end of 2015, officials have said. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Red Bank officials have responded to a demand for transparency into a proposed $2.2 million water meter replacement program by posting a list of frequently-asked-questions on the borough website.

At the December 3 meeting of the council, Mayor Pasquale Menna instructed Administrator Stanley Sickels to post “whatever information” he had on the topic by noon Friday after complaints that the borough was rushing the matter through to a vote.

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RED BANK: BOND INTRO LEGIT, O’HERN SAYS

menna o'hern seal 010114Borough Attorney Dan O’Hern, right, with Mayor Pasquale Menna earlier this year. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03A push by Red Bank’s Democrat-controlled council to pass a $2.2 million water-meter-replacement bond by the end of the year can move forward, according to borough Attorney Dan O’Hern.

O’Hern tells redbankgreen that Mayor Pasquale Menna’s belated “tiebreaker” vote to introduce the bond last week was permissible, even though the mayor is allowed under state law to vote only in the event of a council tie. The council vote was two in favor and one opposed, with one abstention.

But the abstention, by soon-to-depart Councilwoman Juanita Lewis, was tantamount to a “no,” O’Hern said Monday, citing recent cases involving Newark and Hoboken.

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RED BANK: METER BOND INTRODUCED… MAYBE

rb water meter 120414 2New metering technology would use telemetry, replacing the current system, which requires a borough employee to touch a reading device to puck-shaped interface. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Red Bank’s council barely mustered enough votes to introduce an ordinance for a $2.2 million bond to pay for new water meters throughout town Wednesday night.

Or did it?

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RED BANK: $2.2M METER BOND ON AGENDA

water faucet dripNew metering technology would be more precise than the current system, enabling homeowners to better detect bill-boosting leaks, proponents say. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Red Bank officials plan to issue $2.2 million in debt to replace water meters in the borough’s 4,000-plus homes and other properties.

The agenda for Wednesday night’s meeting of the mayor and council includes the introduction of an ordinance to authorize a bond to cover the cost of the new technology.

Proponents, including Councilman Mike DuPont and Administrator Stanley Sickels, contend the existing meters are part of a  system that is inefficient and costly to the town. The devices used for the past 25 or so years are also no longer manufactured, they said.

But the council’s lone Republican, Cindy Burnham, says the bond is being fast-tracked for approval by the end of the year in order to head off possible no vote next year, when she’s joined on the dais by councilwoman-elect and fellow Republican Linda Schwabenbauer. Read More »