Red Bank borough employees returned to work after the Labor Day holiday to find they have a new neighbor: a sleek black parking lot on the site of the former Tubby’s Shell station across Maple Avenue from town hall.
That’s a property borough officials have had an eye on as a possible temporary solution to the town’s own shortage of spaces for employees.
But the sudden appearance of blacktop wasn’t a sign of deal having been reached. To the contrary, the lot had been paved without a permit having been issued, says borough Administrator Stanley Sickels.
So a summons was issued to the owner, Stavola Leasing, of Tinton Falls, he says. But prosecution of the summons is “being held in abeyance,” Sickels says.
It turns out that Stavola had applied to the borough planning board for an OK to provide parking on the site on a temporary basis. That request hasn’t been acted on yet, Sickels says, and the summons will be held until that decision is made.
Through Sickels, the borough had been urging Stavola to pave the property and lease it to the town for employee parking.
“We had asked them to clean up the site,” he says. “We had actually asked them to pave it.”
Stavola removed the last vestiges of the long-closed filling station in June, leaving a pitted lot. As a result of discussions, the site was used for parking by out-of-town police who helped with crowd control on July 3, the night of the KaBoom fireworks show.
But the borough and Stavola never reached a longer-term agreement, and the lot remained unpaved until late last week, Sickels says.
The borough is still interested in using the lot, but it would appear that Stavola has reached an agreement with another party or more. Yesterday and today, several dozen cars were parked in the lot, which was secured by a locked chain.
Stavola officials have in the past declined to comment on the property.
Sickels and Mayor Pasquale Menna, who was asked at last night’s council meeting whose cars were parked there, said they didn’t know. “We’re not in a position toight to comment on it,” Menna said, in response to a question from resident Les Hathaway about what was going on.
Last October, the planning office rejected a request by Riverview Medical Center to create a temporary parking lot on the site of the now-demolished Worden-Hoidal Funeral Home on East Front Street because such a use was not permitted in the zone.
Stavola won approval in 2006 for a four-story, mixed-use retail and residential project with underground and surface-level parking. But that project, like numerous others, has remained unbuilt, presumably because of the crash in the credit markets beginning a year ago.