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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: 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: BIG MOVE FOR BASIE BOARD

basie awards 051816 2Press release from The Count Basie Theatre

Amidst its $20 million dollar expansion and improvement plan, the Count Basie Theatre has announced the merging of its Board of Trustees and Directors and the hiring of a new Vice President of Development to join the newly appointed executive leadership team.

As a recognized 501(c)(3) organization, the Count Basie Theatre once operated under the guidance of two governing boards — one overseeing theater operations, and the other the non-profit’s fundraising efforts. With a single Executive Committee under the leadership of Chairman Tom Widener and Count Basie Theatre president and CEO Adam Philipson, the work to merge the boards into one, diverse and powerful force behind the theatre’s ambitious plans for the future have come to fruition.

“This is an auspicious, exciting moment for us at the Count Basie Theatre, said Board Chairman Tom Widener. “Merging the boards creates cohesion, clarity and focus at an important time in our history.”

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RED BANK: FORTUNE HOUSE’S GOOD FORTUNE

mumford fortune 072716 1Developer Roger Mumford leads high school journalism students on a tour of the Fortune House. Below, Mumford with preservationist Gilda Rogers. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

gilda rogers roger mumford 072716

Less than a week after the Red Bank zoning board approved a plan to save it, the still-crumbling T. Thomas Fortune House offered a preview Wednesday of its anticipated role: as a cultural and educational center.

About a dozen high school students from around New Jersey took an exterior tour of the onetime home of pioneering civil rights journalist, who lived in it for a decade starting in 1901 and entertained the leading lights of black culture there. In the process, they also got a lesson in how the interests of preservationists and profit-minded developers might converge.

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RED BANK: FORTUNE HOUSE RESCUE PLAN OK’D

ROGER MUMFORD 072116 1Developer Roger Mumford with an architect’s rendering of the T. Thomas Fortune house as it would appear after restoration. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

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A decade-long effort to save an endangered artifact of African-American history cleared a major milestone Thursday night when the Red Bank zoning board approved a developer’s plan to rebuild the T. Thomas Fortune house and create 31 apartments on its one-acre property.

Borough-based homebuilder Roger Mumford, who vowed to restore and donate the house for use as a cultural center before he would seek certificates of occupancy for the apartments, was hailed as the last-chance savior of a vital relic of the civil rights movement that its current owners want to raze. Residents told the board before its vote that Mumford deserved the tradeoff of more than a dozen variances, most of them arising from the apartment plan.

“If a development project has ever given back to the community, it’s this one,” said Kalman Pipo, a member of the borough’s Historic Preservation Commission. “If this project doesn’t go through, we are going to lose this house” to the wrecking ball, he said.

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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: ‘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 »

RED BANK: MAYOR’S BALL II DRAWS A CROWD

philipson menna 050616rb mayors ball 050616 12Mayor Pasquale Menna, above right, welcomed Count Basie Theatre CEO Adam Philipson, left, and more than 200 other guests to the second annual Red Bank Mayor’s Charity Ball at the Oyster Point Hotel Friday night. Proceeds from the $125-per-head event were earmarked for the borough-based nonprofits Lunch Break and HABcore

Check out the photos from redbankgreen’s drive-thru of the cocktail hour, below. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

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RED BANK: TWO RIVER TOASTS ARTS ANGELS

Joan_and_Bob_Rechnitz_Ed_Zipprich_Ivan_PolonskyTwo River Theater Company co-founders Joan and Robert Rechnitz were joined on the evening of March 28 by Red Bank Councilman Ed Zipprich and philanthropist Ivan Polonsky, for the 2016-17 Season Announcement event at Two River’s Bridge Avenue arts center. Some 100 of the stage company’s major donors and supporters attended a special reception in the lobby prior to the 7:30 p.m. program, mingling with TRTC artistic director John Dias, Tony nominated actor-director Michael Cumpsty and other artists involved in the new slate of shows that begin in September 2016. A full rundown of the new schedule, including season subscription information, can be found here. (Photo by Teja Anderson)

RED BANK: ZIPPRICH ZAPPED ON ‘PLAGIARISM’

ballard zipprich 101815Councilman and Democratic party chair Ed Zipprich, right, with Democratic council candidate Michael Ballard at the borough Halloween parade last month. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Election 2015 graphic[SEE UPDATE BELOW ]

An eleventh-hour election email purportedly sent by Red Bank Democratic Party chairman and Councilman Ed Zipprich has drawn fire from Republicans both for its content, which they allege was “word-for-word” plagiarized, and for the method by which it was distributed.

Republican chairman Sean DiSomma and Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer both said Zipprich took an email that Schwabenbauer sent out Monday afternoon in support of the two Republican council candidates and tweaked it into an endorsement of the two Democratic candidates.

Then Zipprich sent his version out to recipients whose addresses he improperly obtained from the borough parks and recreation department, said Di Somma, who called for an investigation by state election authorities.

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RED BANK: KOPKA GRANT FUNDS SCIENCE DAY

Press release from Red Bank Borough Education Foundation

All in the interest of science, the Red Bank Borough Education Foundation presented the Red Bank Board of Education with its second Rosemarie Kopka Memorial Mini-Grant for $2,000, to be used for a Science Day scheduled for June 11 and 12 at Red Bank Primary School.

Borough Councilman Ed Zipprich, who is also RBBEF Vice President, presented the check to Red Bank Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jared Rumage during International Day on Friday, May 29.  Also present for the award presentation were RBBEF President Susan Berke, Secretary Barbara Boas, Treasurer Kathie Panepinto, and Councilwoman Kathy Horgan, who was the founding RBBEF President.

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RED BANK: FOUR MAYORS… AND SOME FRIENDS

lee kuo 050115lock menna 050115The first-ever Red Bank Mayor’s Charity Ball brought together three ex-mayors, the current one and some 250 of their friends at the Oyster Point Hotel Friday night. Among those in attendance: former Councilwoman Sharon Lee and restaurateur Victor Kuo, above, and Pastor John Lock, with Mayor Pasquale Menna, at right.

Proceeds from the $125-per-head event were earmarked for the Red Bank Public Library and the Parker Family Health Center.

redbankgreen grabbed dozens of photos during the cocktail hour overlooking our beautiful Navesink River. Click the “read more” to see who else was there. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

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