Img_4241Img_4253Two views of the disused borough parking lot at the foot of Maple Avenue that may come up for sale this year. Click to enlarge images.

Hoping to trim a proposed budget that would otherwise sock property owners with a 20-percent tax increase, Red Bank officials have hired an appraiser to set a value on a primo piece of borough-owned land, redbankgreen has learned.

The hiring of Peter Sockler could mean that the property, at the foot of Maple Avenue, will go on the market this year, says Mayor Pasquale Menna.

Because it’s a buildable lot with an unimpeded, panoramic view of the Navesink River, “it’s a very desirable property,” says Menna. “Where else are you going to get that kind of view?”

Monmouth County records appear to list the lot’s address as 90 West Front Street, a 53-by-350-foot lot (.43 acres) designated as a parking area. It’s assessed at $1.36 million, though of course it’s tax-exempt as long as the town owns it.

We were unable to immediately find a zoning designation for the property, but Menna said it “could be used for residential. Some people, myself included, are not afraid to live in an area surrounded by office buildings.”

Just to the south of the property (and up a rather steep hill) is a commercial building most recently used as a temporary headquarters for the public library while the main structure was being renovated. Just to the west is the gleaming Hovnanian Enterprises headquarters. A short boardwalk overlooks the river at the foot of Maple.

The property features little more on it than a crumbling asphalt surface. Menna said it was initially used for permit parking “but has never really taken off” for that use because it’s not seen as convenient to downtown businesses.

“It’s an extraordinary year” in fiscal terms, says Menna, with a “perfect storm” of dramatically reduced state aid converging with higher pension costs, soaring bond payments and reduced income to the borough from construction fees.

To avoid a tax increase that would boost the typical homeowners tax to $1,873, from $1,561, the borough will have to consider options that include freezing or cutting programs, as well as the sale of underutilized assets, Menna says.

So far, the Maple Avenue lot is the only piece of borough property under consideration for possible sale, he says.

Menna says Sockler did not provide the appraisal on the former Count Basie Learning Center on Drs. Parker Boulevard. Based on an appraisal, the borough twice put the building up for auction last year but failed to attract a single bid.

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