Today’s Asbury Park Press samples some of the familiar complaints about parking in downtown Red Bank, an issue in which the challenge of finding a space near one’s destination or staying one coin ahead of the meter reader counts as a “war story.”

A Shrewsbury man criticizes having to pay for parking, and says merchants should pick up the tab. A woman from Ocean says the difficulty in finding a space “pushes you away from going there on a Saturday night for dining.”

The idea for a parking garage on the site of the 274-space White Street municipal lot is resurrected, to no one’s surprise. But there’s no mention of the recurring counter-argument that the municipal lots east of Broad Street are woefully underutilized.

Press reporter Larry Higgs devotes several paragraphs to a multi-use Princeton Borough garage built by a private developer, in which the borough collects rent on the underlying land.

But that’s as close as the story gets to the issue of who should pay for a Red Bank garage, which through several attempts to get one built has been the major sticking point. The story makes no mention of the taxpayer opposition to a plan for a White Street garage in 2001, when the cost was estimated at $8.4 million. Nor does it fully explain what happened in July 2005, when the council hoped to quietly authorize bonding for 570-car garage, whose cost had risen to $11.8 million. Angry residents packed the council chambers and spilled into the hallways of borough hall. The bonding ordinance was tabled when garage proponent Mayor Ed McKenna announced that he had heard from several private developers who might be interested in partnering with the town on the project.

“These are some very exciting possibilities,” McKenna said at the time, according to an account in The Hub.

Higgs now tells us that “those plans never materialized.”

Residents keep hearing that there’s a pressing need for the White Street garage, and that it’ll be so popular that it will pay for itself. So where is the private-sector money ready to capitalize on this demand?

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