Here’s a recap of Monday night’s Red Bank Borough Council meeting. (Follow along with the agenda, if you like.)
Mayor Pasquale Menna accepted a $162,975 dividend payment to the borough from the Central Jersey Health Insurance Fund, the shared-services operation comprised of 20 Monmouth and Ocean county towns and authorities.
The dividend has more than doubled from the $79,000 of just two years ago, and represents improved claims experience, Menna said. It is also the equivalent of a six-percent return on the borough’s annual health insurance premium, he said.
Menna also accepted a $5,000 donation to the borough in lieu of taxes from the nonprofit Monmouth Boat Club.
The council gave final and unanimous approval to two ordinances.
One will result in the creation of a four-way stop at the intersection of Bridge Avenue and Chestnut Street.
The other, a planning amendment, permits the use of professional offices by physical, speech and other licensed therapists and real estate brokerages with five or fewer employees. Previously, the list of authorized uses was limited to doctors and dentists, architects, musicians and ministers, among others.
Councilman Mike DuPont gave a quick update on the status of the requests for proposals for a borough-owned community center.
He said proposals had been received by yesterday’s deadline from the Community YMCA and the Boys & Girls Club of Monmouth County, but that “there is also another potential alternative brewing” without adding specifics. Today’s Asbury Park Press has a story that says there’s an “unnamed benefactor” behind the third option.
The Community Center Task Force will now review the proposals and make a recommendation to the council on how to proceed, DuPont said. Also, Audra Greene was named to the task force.
The council honored the following for their long service in the Red Bank Volunteer Fire Department:
25 YEARS: Doug Haviland, Benjamin Riegelman, William Setaro and V. Arthur Ziemanis.
50 YEARS: Lester Carbone, John ‘Jack’ England and Raymond England.
The pubic portion of the meeting was dominated by questions from Bill Meyer and Steve Fitzpatrick each of whom objects to being called a “gadfly” about the legality of the borough’s $1 sale, in 2000, of 51 Monmouth Street to what is now the Children’s Cultural Center, an arm of the Community YMCA.
Meyer continued to press for the council to take the building back from the Y, which has listed the property for sale at $2.55 million. He said the Y and its predecessors have failed to live up to the statutory requirements that follow a public structure when it is sold at a below-market price.
“It is my opinion that that building is ours,” said Meyer, an attorney. “It should have already reverted to us.”
Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, sought to get DuPont and other members of the Democratic majority to acknowledge on the record that former mayor Ed McKenna had chaired each of their election campaigns. He didn’t make clear why.
McKenna was mayor at the time of the property transfer and also served as a founding officer of a predecessor organization to the cultural center. He claims he recused himself from votes on the sale of the property.
Council members and Borough Attorney Tom Hall resisted entreaties by Meyer to answer questions about the status of negotiations between the town and the Y. On Hall’s advice, the governing body has been treating the dispute with the Y as a matter of potential litigation, and thus has kept a lid on the details of executive session discussions of the matter.
“I’d love to speak to the matter, but no, we can’t,” said Republican Grace Cangemi.
Afterward, briefing reporters, Hall said he has given the mayor and council a “voluminous” report that addresses the status of negotiations “and all the legal issues and facts,” including the chances of the borough prevailing should the matter go to court. The report, he said, is a privileged communication between an attorney (himself) and client (the borough), and thus not a matter for public disclosure at present. He declined further comment.
Hall also briefed reporters on last week’s Best Liquors ruling, which upheld the borough’s 2007 revocation of the Leighton Avenue store’s license to sell alcoholic products.
He said license holder Sunny Sharma has 13 days from the date of the decision to file “exceptions” to try to undermine the ruling. ABC Director Jerry Fisher has 45 days from the date of the decision to uphold, amend or reject the ruling.
Sharma “conceivably has the right also to go to the appellate division” of state Superior Court, Hall said. “But he’d have to prove that the Martone decision was arbitrary and capricious. That’s an incredibly high standard to meet.”
redbankgreen spoke briefly to Sharma yesterday to ask him about his next move, but he directed all inquiries to his lawyer, Samuel ‘Skip’ Reale, whom we were unable to reach.
Here’s the full text of the decision in the Best Liquors case: Download abc_490807_best_liquors_id_102208.doc