Four years after the topic came to the fore, borough officials still don’t know exactly what they want to do with the old incinerator site at the end of Sunset Avenue.
But the site has gotten a clean bill of health for contaminants, and the borough engineer has come up with a plan to tear down the brick smokestack on the site and regrade the land for… well, whatever might eventually follow.
“There are a number of different scenarios, and those scenarios have been studied by Public Works and Parks & Rec,” says Mayor Pasquale Menna. “There are three or four different options, and they’re not ready to float any of them. But it is all for public use.”
Four years ago, according to a Nov. 2003 story in the Hub, the council persuaded the state Department of Environmental Protection to shift a half-loan, half-grant package worth $750,000 from its faltering “Broad Street to the River” effort to the Sunset Avenue property for the creation of a park. The Green Acres grant was originally approved in 1996.
From that article:
“The proposal is for the park to be multi-purpose fields for use by the community for recreation,” explained Red Bank Councilman Robert J. Bifani. “It could be used by the community for things like barbecues or for sports.”
…The proposed waterfront park would encompass 5.8 acres bounded by Tilton Avenue, between Bank Street, Drs. James Parker Blvd. and Sunset Avenue and by Carmen Place, between Westside Avenue and Route 520.
A 2004 story in the Asbury Park Press said the council was seeking $156,000 in a Community Development Block Grant funds to cover the cost of demolishing the incinerator.
Both articles talked about moving some or all of the recycling center functions to the Public Works facility on Chestnut Street.
We’ve been unable to reach Bifani for an update over the past week, but Menna says there’s still no formal proposal for a park at the site.
Meantime, the borough is under orders by the DEP to remove the incinerator.
According to Monmouth County records, the borough owns about 8.6 acres at the end of West Sunset Avenue, where the town recycling center is located across the butt end of the street from the long-idled incinerator.
Some of the property is sharply sloped along the Swimming River, and some of it is wetlands, so it’s not all buildable. But there’s enough room upland to create parkland, and perhaps an enclosed gymnasium, among other potential installations, says Menna.
The newly published Waterfront Plan calls the recycling center site “one of the most significant areas of opportunity for community development, environmental restoration and recreation” along the Swimming River.
The plan also suggests using a portion of the recycling center property “to anchor new development along a new riverfront road.” But Menna says flatly that there won’t be any private development on what’s now public property.
“The town is not talking about putting condos there,” Menna says. “It’s going to be for the enjoyment of the public, and also for our needs in terms of DEP.”
There are no plans to remove the recycling center, Menna says.