‘CONTROVERSY COVE’ DEBATE CONTINUES

maple-cove-cleanup-2009Volunteers digging out invasive plants during a cleanup of the riverfront property in May.

Today’s Asbury Park Press takes another look at the tug-of-war over Red Bank’s tentatively-named Maple Cove that’s been going on for more than a year.

The dispute, which has pitted boaters and environmentalists against the borough government, hasĀ  centered on what might be done with the half-acre property, which sits at the Navesink River end of Maple Avenue, without running afoul of state Department of Environmental Protection regulations.

One on side are kayakers and naturalists who say they simply want a sign, a bench and a path to the river’s edge. On the other are local officials who say those simple improvements could cost the borough tens of thousands of dollars in DEP compliance measures.

From the Press, which gives a rare nod to this hyperlocal website:

A councilwoman called it an unsanctioned park in May and until recently, borough officials didn’t want to erect a sign identifying it, prompting the RedBankGreen Web site to dub it “Controversy Cove.”

“It’s full fledged (water) access, why not?” said [Mike] Welsh of Red Bank about a sign, as his daughter Mackenzie, 12 and son Kevin, 7, helped him park the boat trailer. “It would be nice to have a boat launch. We used to have one at North Washington Street, but we lost that.”

Mayor Pasquale Menna, though, cited the temporary use of the site by a road contractor working on the nearby intersections as an impediment to doing anything with the property.

“We’re committed to maintaining it as open space, a number of factors have impacted utilizing it,” Menna said. “As soon as the (state) project is complete, we’ll put up a sign, clean it up and make it more readly available to the public. It’s a matter of timing it right.”

Menna has previously said that permits for a bench alone would cost $9,000, and that the borough might have to lay out $80,000 in site mapping and other engineering services just to get through the application process.

Meantime, even the name Maple Cove seems to be in limbo. The Press notes that

Two Red Bank Regional High School students named the cove after Councilwoman Juanita Lewis announced a contest earlier this year. The name was announced at Red Bank Day in May and in passing at a council meeting. But the students were never recognized with a press release or by officials.

No official action on a name change has been taken.