The last remaining point of direct public access to the Navesink River in Red Bank has been preserved, capping an effort launched earlier this year by a Fair Haven resident, the Asbury Park Press reported over the weekend.
From an article in Saturday’s edition:
Borough-owned land at the end of Maple Avenue, which community activist Cindy Burnham and others had been lobbying to keep as park land, is preserved, said Larry Hajna, spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection.
“Since the parcel is on the open space inventory, it is protected from development and from uses other than open space,” Hajna said in an e-mail.
The two parcels are on the DEP’s Green Acres open-space database. Hajna said that land is protected from sale even though Green Acres funds were not applied for and spent specifically on that piece of property.
Mayor Pasquale “Pat” Menna said the Maple Avenue boat launch property was included on the Recreation and Open Space Inventory filed as part of a Green Acres funding application for Marine Park and the Locust Avenue reserve.
“It doesn’t have to be Green Acres funds spent on that site, but (that) the site was used for a Green Acres funding application,” Menna said. “The only way it could be sold is with the concurance of the state. That would trigger a reimbursement (to the state). The possibility it would happen is nil.”
Menna said the action is in line with the council’s decision four to five months ago not to sell the land.
“That’s a wonderful, wonderful thing. It’s the last piece of waterfront available on the east side of Red Bank and the last piece of accessible land,” said Councilwoman Mary Grace Cangemi, who lobbied along with Cindy Burnham, a Fair Haven resident and borough propertyowner, and others to save the land. “Now all you can do on the river from our parks is look at the water.”
The designation marks a milestone in an effort sparked earlier this year when Menna floated the idea of selling the quarter-acre lot to raise cash for the borough government. Kayakers, canoeists and environmental activists sought not only to block the sale, but to safeguard the land from development. Some called for the creation of a boat launch to accommodate non-motorized small craft.
Burnham said she was grateful for their work so far. But she said she remains concerned that merely being on the list may not prevent the borough from selling the property. Burnham said her research showed that although the property is on the list, it’s vulnerable to sale.
Other good news is that the borough will not need DEP permits to remove two dirt piles on the Maple Avenue side of the lot.
“We met with the borough over the summer and went out and looked at the property and we advised them that they do not need a permit to remove the soil piles,” Hajna said.
Future plans to use the waterfront land as a kayak launch would still require a waterfront development permit, he said.
Cangemi said there is funding the borough could apply for through the state’s I-Boat grant program, which uses money collected from boat registrations and other related fees.