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BOWDEN: CENTENNIAL PLANNING TOO SLOW

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For a guy who just turned 80, George Bowden has a lot of energy. Some of it gets steered into his passion for trying to preserve old buildings in Red Bank as chairman of the borough’s Historical Preservation Commission. Some he expends on his favorite pastime, fishing.

But that still leaves Bowden with juice to spare, and he’s eager to burn it up getting the town ready for its 100th anniversary next year.

Problem is, not much is happening on that front in terms of guidance. And that’s making Bowden nervous, given the narrowing window of opportunity to plan something special.

“It’s been sort of dead in the water,” Bowden told redbankgreen recently, noting that an event planning committee appointed by Mayor Pasquale Menna earlier this year has had just one meeting. Bowden’s a member, but not heading it up.

“My concern is that here’s a tremendous amount of work to be done, and I have trouble pedaling a bicycle without a chain,” Bowden says.

Menna tells us he understands Bowden’s antsiness, but says there is progress being made.

He says there have been delays in “clearing the 501c3 status” of a new organization being set up as a charity to accept donations. The idea is to have all events paid for by donations and sponsorships, rather than borough funds, and once the IRS gives the foundation a green light, the committee can meet and begin planning in earnest.

“It’s not that nothing is being done, it’s that the technical BS of going through the IRS and he Division of Taxation is happening,” Menna says. “There’s no sense in telling people what’s going to be happening until we get that squared away, which hopefully will be in the next two weeks or so.”

Among the first efforts the committee hopes to trot out is a contest for the design of a centennial logo, open to all, including kids. The contest is to be judged by artist Evelyn Leavens, a member of the centennial planning committee, Menna says.

Also on the committee are former mayors Ed McKenna and Michael Arnone; Maria Gagliano; Paulette Roberts; Maeble Hairston and Tim Hogan.

Bowden says he’s “not throwing mud” at the mayor or the committee. He just hates sitting on his hands while the clock is ticking.

“I’m really a bugger in terms of organization,” he says. “It’s quality in, quality out. I’m concerned because I want to see it come off, and come off well.”

One idea Bowden wants to air out is his desire for “a real, old-fashioned parade in which everybody in the town participates.” That alone is a considerable planning challenge, he says.

Another suggestion he’s heard is for a Navesink River regatta featuring an old steam-powered paddle-wheeler reminiscent of the Albertina, which plied the river in the mid-19th century. An image of the vessel is incorporated into the seal of Fair Haven.

He’d also like to hear from local residents with ideas of for events that might be incorporated into the celebration. And the best place to post them? Right here on redbankgreen, Bowden says.

Hey, who are we to argue? So fire away, centenarians…

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