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PROWN: SAVE THIS BUILDING

Img_8386Cash it out, or turn it into a community center?

To the borough of Red Bank, it’s an asset beter turned into cash.

To kids’ activist David Prown, it’s about to become a missed opportunity.

On the agenda for Monday’s council meeting is a second reading of an ordinance authorizing the auction of a town-owned building at the corner of Bridge Avenue and Drs. Parker Boulevard. [Postscript: the first part of that sentence is wrong. The item appeared on the July 9 agenda as a resolution, not an ordinance. Sorry for the error.]

At the moment, it’s rented for $1 a year by the Community YMCA, which offers programs for pre-schoolers in the mornings and primary-school-aged kids in the afternoon at the facility.

By the end of the day on Aug. 10, the council is hoping it’ll put an $800,000 bulge in the town’s wallet.

Prown is trying rally citizens to lobby the council to put the brakes on the move, which he thinks is happening without enough local awareness and input. He sent out a blast email (see below) to several dozen residents and business owners hoping to stir them to action.

“All we’re trying to do is to postpone the sale so there can be some discussion about it,” he told redbankgreen Sunday afternoon. He’s also reached out to GOP council candidate John Tyler, with whom he toured the facility late last week.

Prown’s thinking is that the town has long needed a community center or youth center, and that this piece of property is ideally suited for that purpose because of its central location, on-street parking, Internet access and office and meeting space.

Not to mention that the town already owns it. Even some members of the council have said the town could use a community center, Prown says. “Can you imagine what it would cost to buy a plot of land in this town and put up a new building on it?”

He’s actually been pushing this idea for some 18 months, he said, but hasn’t gotten “one little inkling of acknowledgment that there’s an idea here” from the mayor and council.

That’s because “it’s not the right building,” Mayor Pasquale Menna says. Facility upgrades are needed, a parking lot is needed, a staff is needed.

“Who’s going to pay for that?” says Menna. “It has to be thought out. We had a community center next door (at the former Number 5 school on Drs. Parker) that went bust.”

Menna says he’d prefer that the borough lean on Monmouth County to begin putting some of the $500,000 or so a year paid by Red Bank taxpayers for open-space uses back into the borough in the form of urban recreation programs. None of that money now comes back into town, he says.

“Instead, it goes into golf courses in western Monmouth County used primarily by rich people,” he says.

The council tried auctioning off the property earlier this year at the same minimum bid price, but drew only two potential bidders and no bids. What’s different now? “Hopefully it’s been better advertised,” says Menna.

The anticipated proceeds are not included in the current year proposed budget, which has yet to be adopted, says Menna.

Here’s Prown’s email:

The RB Boro Council is on the verge of “accepting bids” to sell the Ct.
Basie Learning Center/Achievement Branch Building (which the town owns) on the corner of Bridge Ave. & Drs. Parkers Blvd.

The CYMCA is moving their programs to the RB School buildings starting
Sept. 1

This building CAN INSTANTLY be turned into a Red Bank Community Center
…. all they have to do is change the sign on the door :
‘- It is handicapped equipped
‘- Has all necessary Cable & Computer lines
‘- Has office space (for town/group meetings).
‘- Has open rooms for ping pong/pool tables etc.
‘- Has a working kitchen
‘- 2 floors, fully finished
‘- Centrally located in town
‘- Has security locks on the doors (need to be buzzed in)
‘- Move Parks & Recreation Dept. over from the hard to access
trailer on Chestnut St.
to this easy to access, central location.
‘- Existing use – no permit/change of use variances needed
‘- Our Current Parks & Recreation Director has experience setting up
and running Community Centers

No land to buy
No structure to build or re-hab
INSTANT COMMUNITY CENTER FOR FREE

***** PLEASE ATTEND THIS MONDAY’S COUNCIL MEETING (90 MONMOUTH ST.) AND
EXPRESS YOUR SUPPORT

1) WE WANT THEM TO “POSTPONE” THE AUGUST 10TH OPENING TO BIDS

2) HAVE A PUBLIC MEETING TO DISCUSS THE CRITICAL NEED OF THIS
COMMUNITY CENTER

Sincerely,

David Prown
908-902-2203

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