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ON THE GREEN: PADDLE, SKIM, RUNBIKESWIM

rb paddle day 091414 12All ages and skill levels are invited to take it to the river on Saturday, when Paddle the Navesink Day returns to the Red Bank waterfront, above, while Skimbash brings top Skim USA Pro/Am Tour action to Sea Bright. (Photo above by John T. Ward; below by Peter Lindner)

skimbashThe beach-badge booths are boarded up; the “Bennys Go Home” banners lovingly folded with the care befitting a precious family heirloom. But on the ocean beaches and waterways of the Greater Red Bank Green, it’s still very much Local Summer; a busy interlude of family-friendly festivals, recreational opportunities and other welcome rituals.

The weekend ahead sees the reappearance of three such signifiers of Local Summer living — including the September edition of SkimBash in Sea Bright, and the annual Iron Girl Women’s Triathlon on Sandy Hook.

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RED BANK: COUNCIL OKS SIGNS, SEWER FIX

sidewalk sale 3 072712A properly displayed sandwich board sign on Broad Street. Too many others, however, impede pedestrians, a downtown building owner said. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The Red Bank borough council took action on a number of matters involving borough parks, sidewalks and sewers at its semimonthly meeting Wednesday night.

Here’s a bullet-point rundown.

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RED BANK: MENNA GRIPES HE WAS DISSED

pasquale menna 082416Mayor Pasquale Menna at Wednesday’s council meeting. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Things got snippy Wednesday night when Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna claimed he was being dissed by two council members.

A routine discussion over a scheduling question briefly turned into the latest in a recent series of episodes in which the mayor squared off against fellow Democrats Kathy Horgan and Ed Zipprich, and they aligned themselves with the council’s lone independent.

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RED BANK: GOP TIES RIVER WOES TO SEWER

Kellie O’Bosky Colwell 042716Council candidate Kellie O’Bosky Colwell says the borough sewer needs an “overhaul” in light of reported bacteria levels in the Navesink. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Election_2016_PlainCalling for an “emergency” weekend council meeting, the two Republican candidates for Red Bank council suggested Friday that poor upkeep of the borough sewer system was to blame for elevated levels of harmful bacteria in the Navesink River.

The meeting didn’t happen, and it’s not clear who, if anyone, candidates Kellie O’Bosky Colwell and Brian Hanlon asked to schedule one.

Meantime, incumbent Councilwoman Cindy Burnham, a former Republican now running as an independent, blasted the pair for “egregious” politicizing of the issue.

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RED BANK: PARKING PLAN ADVANCES, BARELY

rb white st lot 071916 1A divided council gave the go-ahead for a consultant to develop a concept plan for the White Street parking lot. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

LicPlate1Red Bank moved another step toward a possible answer to its chronic parking woes Wednesday night, but only after Mayor Pasquale Menna cast a pair of tiebreakers that put him at odds with fellow Democrats.

Menna’s votes were necessary after the council’s two lone Democrats joined with its sole independent in raising objections to a $6,500 contract for a concept plan covering the borough-owned White Street parking lot, where merchants and town officials envision a parking garage.

The debate also exposed rare friction between Menna and Red Bank RiverCenter, the semi-authonomous agency that promotes downtown business interests.

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RED BANK: ONCE MORE ‘ROUND THE RIVER

rb paddle 091215 5Press release from Red Bank Council President Cindy Burnham

If you have always wanted to kayak or try to paddle board on the Navesink River, but never knew how to get to it, now is your chance! On Saturday, September 10, Red Bank residents and visitors will once again have the chance to demo a kayak, paddle board, rowing shell, or try a class in paddle board yoga — and all for free — at the 6th Paddle the Navesink Day.

Going on from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., the event takes place at Maple Cove (foot of Maple Avenue), the only public access site in Red Bank where you can hand launch a small non motorized craft in the Navesink River.

Just West of Maple Cove is Navesink River Rowing, which will be holding an open house to offer people the chance to demo a rowing shell and get information regarding their adult and youth rowing programs.

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RED BANK: SENIORS GET DOWN AND DIRTY

rb seniors garden 071416 2rb seniors garden 071416 1Despite wilting heat and humidity, a group of seniors tended the newly installed raised-bed garden purchased by Councilwoman Cindy Burnham for the borough Red Bank Senior Citizens Center Thursday morning.

At right, 98-year-old Edith Blake checks the aroma on a sage leaf from the planter, where seniors have also planted tomatoes, taragon and basil. The planter is set up beside a picnic table so seniors can garden while seated, said Burnham. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: RETHINKING ALL OF MARINE PARK

rich nicoletti 060816 2Longtime Red Bank clay courts tennis pro Rich Nicoletti on the site of the dormant riverfront facility earlier this month. The Monmouth Boat Club is in the background. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

WhatsGoingOnHere

This time of year, scuffing footwork and the thwok of tennis balls would normally be heard most summer mornings down by the Navesink River in Red Bank’s Marine Park, widely considered nirvana among aficionados for its unusual red clay courts.

It was certainly that for Rich Nicoletti, who grew up in an apartment above what’s now the Downtown nightclub just up the hill, and spent decades as the tennis pro at the borough-owned facility.

“These tennis courts were a gem,” said the retired sports journalist, who at 73 estimates he’s spent fully one-quarter of his life at the site. “It was beautiful.”

But 86 years after they opened, the courts may have seen their last match.

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RED BANK: DI SOMMA QUITS AS GOP CHAIR

taylor whelan disomma 112015Sean Di Somma, right, with successful council candidates Mark Taylor, left, and Mike Whelan last November. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Sean Di Somma won’t be staying on as Red Bank Republican chairman after all, according to a published report.

Di Somma informed Monmouth County GOP officials by email Thursday that he won’t seek a second term, which was to have begun this month, according to the report by More Monmouth Musings, a conservative publication based in Highlands.

MMM’s Art Gallagher reports that Michael Clancy, whose failed Red Bank board of education candidacy last fall was studded with controversy over his eligibility to run as well as his positions, is hoping to succeed Di Somma.

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RED BANK: TAX HIKE TRIMMED ON A TWEAK

rb parking 041316 2A recent deal allowing the Count Basie Theatre to sell parking spots at borough hall on specified dates paved the way to a new budget.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

taxesThe owner of a typical Red Bank home will pay $35 more in local property taxes this year, rather than $40, following passage of the first Republican-led budget in a generation Wednesday night.

The borough council’s unanimous approval of the 2016 spending plan marked the anticlimax to a brief standoff that began when Democrats raised eleventh-hour objections to  what they later called “‘fluff and ‘slush funds” in the GOP budget.

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RED BANK: DEMS TARGET ‘SLUSH FUNDS’

horgan schwabenbauer 101815Council members Kathy Horgan, left, and Linda Schwabenbauer, seen at last year’s Halloween parade, are now at odds over the budget. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

taxesTwo weeks after it was shot down on the mayor’s tiebreaking vote, Red Bank’s first Republican-led budget in a generation faces its next test on Wednesday.

That’s when council members will square off over cuts suggested by Democrats to what they called “‘fluff’ and ‘slush funds.'”

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RED BANK: BUDGET FAILS ON TIEBREAKER VOTE

schwabenbauer menna 052516Mayor Pasquale Menna confers with Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer during the council’s budget deliberation Wednesday. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

taxesRed Bank’s first Republican-led budget in a generation failed to win approval when Mayor Pasquale Menna cast a tiebreaking vote at Wednesday night’s semimonthly council meeting.

His vote against the spending plan followed a 3-3 deadlock that included a “no” by a member of the budget-crafting finance committee, Democrat Kathy Horgan, whose caught committee chairwoman Linda Schwabenbauer, a Republican, by surprise.

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RED BANK: TAX INCREASE REDUCED

rb budget q&A 051816 1A half-dozen or so residents, outnumbered by borough employees and officials, attended the budget session. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

[Update, May 20: Visuals from this presentation are now available online here.]

By JOHN T. WARD

taxesA controversial increase in parking fees will trim the local property tax increase to less than half that previously anticipated, Red Bank officials said Wednesday.

At the annual informal budget presentation, held at borough hall, Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer said the spending plan scheduled for adoption next week calls for a two-percent tax increase, or about $35 for the year for the owner of a home assessed at the town-average $354,006. Read More »

RED BANK: BURNHAM BEGINS RE-ELECTION BID

burnham party 051516 2

burnham party 051516 1 Having been denied a return spot on the Republican ticket, Red Bank Council President Cindy Burnham, seen at center right, hosted an open party at her Wallace Street home to kick off her re-election campaign as an independent Sunday night.

 “It’s not a fundraiser — it’s a friend-raiser,” Burnham said, quoting one of her daughters, as about two dozen partygoers mingled in chilly weather in her garage and driveway while a live band played. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: ‘COMPROMISE’ PARKING HIKE OK’D

rb parking 051116 1Fees for parking in downtown lots would double, to $1 per hour, while metered spots on the street would rise 50 percent, to $1.50 an hour. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

LicPlate1Red Bank’s parking fees are going up.

The borough council approved rate increases Wednesday night, billing the action as a “compromise” with downtown business owners.

Still, merchants decried the hikes, which they said will further alienate potential visitors already turned off by metering, aggressive enforcement and costly tickets. Read More »