For a long time, South Street’s Audrey Oldoerp wondered aloud why towns such as Belmar and Atlantic Highlands had annual or even semi-annual yard sales that embraced every street and home, but Red Bank didn’t.
Moreover, with each passing year, Oldoerp saw community calendars spotted with events meant to attract visitors to the downtown sidewalk sales, jazz festivals, road races and Christmas tree lightings but litle or nothing designed specifically for the people who live here.
It irked her, and she said so, apparently often enough that her husband, Tim Blankley, suggested that instead of grousing, perhaps she should do something about it.
So for the past year or so, Oldoerp has been on a quest, trying to figure out how a townwide yard sale might happen here and navigating the bureaucracy of local government. And last night, though some possible obstacles were thrown in her path, she moved the idea into the public realm.
“We have so many events in this town that are not for the residents,” Oldoerp told the Borough Council at its bimonthly meeting. “There are very few events for the whole town.”
A joint yard sale put together by residents of South Street, Hudson Avenue and other nearby streets last year showed that such an event was a great way to bring together neighbors who might otherwise never interact, she said. Because of the sense of community it fostered, she rejected a suggestion that the event be held in a centralized location, such as the White Street municipal lot.
The sale idea, though, prompted Councilwoman Grace Cangemi to voice what she called “very grave concerns” about practical aspects. In particular, she said the borough could end up footing significant costs in bulk waste removal efforts afterward, as homeowners and landlords decide that it’s easier to discard unsold, heavy items than bring them back indoors.
Cangemi also said the sale or giveaway of upholstered furniture and used clothing could foster the spread of bedbugs, a growing problem in many U.S. cities and towns. “That’s not just fearful, that’s reality,” she said.
Councilwoman Sharon Lee, though, countered with the suggestion that Red Bank do what Belmar does for it’s Spring Fling-related yard sale: require participants to purchase disposal stickers, priced by weight of an object, for every item headed into the waste stream.
Ken Pringle, Belmar’s mayor an Red Bank’s borough attorney, said his town’s event, run for eight or nine years now, “has been a tremendous success.”
“It’s a possible solution,” Lee said. “It would stop any landlords from dumping, or people coming in from outside the community and dumping.”
Such concerns, though, were misplaced, Oldoerp suggested. “I’m fairly certain that Red Bank residents can be trusted to do what other towns have done successfully,” she told the council.
A resolution directing the Public Utilities department and Environmental Commission, in consultation with the Special Events advisory committee, to come up with a plan for the event passed unanimously.
Oldoerp told redbankgreen she’s hoping the event can be pulled together for early May, but that a fall event would also work. Summertime, she said, isn’t the best time.
The event, she said, would be publicized through the local media and placement of fliers in stores. The Environmental Commission is already looking at using the event as a way to promote a “reduce, reuse and recycle” theme, she said.
And while she’s shooting for townwide representation, she does not envision border-to-border tables and yards groaning with goods for sale.
“I don’t want to make it bigger than it needs to be, especially the first time,” she said. “Hopefully we’ll get just enough participants that’ll be a good start.”