BURNHAM: MAPLE COVE MAKEOVER COMING

burnham-maple-coveCindy Burnham at Maple Cove in April, 2008.

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Is the wrangling over borough-owned land at the river end of Maple Avenue in Red Bank finally over?

Cindy Burnham, who’s been a thorn in the side of local officials with her campaign to spruce up popular gateway to the Navesink River, says so.

She tells redbankgreen that after months of wrangling with local officials, a deal is in place to get what she and other nature enthusiasts have been working for: two benches and a sign at Maple Cove, the unofficial name of the half-acre parcel.

Burnham met with Borough Administrator Stanley Sickels recently to hammer out the details of the improvements, which will include the benches and a sign that says, “Maple Cove” to be made and installed by the Navesink Maritime Heritage Foundation, gratis.

Burnham also said Sickels told her the parking lot at Maple Cove will be renovated with paving and curbing. Sickels didn’t immediately return a phone call Wednesday.

“We’ve hashed out the details and we’re all on the same page,” Burnham said. “Hopefully it’s going to happen in the spring.”

That would fulfill a pledge made by Mayor Pasquale Menna in October that Maple Cove would receive improvements. It would also end a battle that’s gone on for more than 18 months.

Along with a group of outdoor and small watercraft buffs, Burnham became mired in political quibbling with Sickels and the council as to whether upgrades at the tiny patch leading to the Navesink would require permits by the state Department of Environmental Protection and cost thousands in engineering fees. She said she’s still not sure just how much red tape there was to get this endpoint, but it doesn’t matter anymore.

“There were a lot of hoops that the Friends of Maple Cove had to jump through, and I don’t know why. But I’ve had my eye on the prize the whole time, which was getting it done,” Burnham, a Fair Haven resident who owns property in Red Bank, said. “Whatever happened in the past, I don’t care. Let’s get it done.”

She also fought hard for a fence to be erected at the cove, but Burnham said she’s more than satisfied with the fact that Sickels, the council and the Parks and Recreation Department got on board with improving the area, which is Red Bank’s only accessible public entrance point to the river.

“It’s just a benefit to to Red Bank and all the people in the greater Red Bank area,” Burnham said. “It’s just a really cool and great natural spot. I’m very happy about the progress.”