COUNCIL NIXES PINK BANK FREE PARKING

Img_6226Mannequins at Backward Glances done up for the 2008 edition of Pink Bank.

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

A request by Riverview Medical Center for free parking in downtown Red Bank for the week of ‘Pink Bank’ was DOA Monday night.

Except for one member, the borough council wanted no part in the hospital’s proposal, coming just two weeks after the governing body voted to double curb meter rates and and hike permit fees.

“I don’t understand the nexus of this,” Mayor Pasquale Menna said, before moving onto the next agenda item at Monday’s council meeting.

The council, save for Michael DuPont, agreed that it would be hypocritical and uneconomical to suspend downtown parking fees as requested for the first week in May. No one seconded DuPont’s motion to move the proposal for consideration, thereby killing it on the spot.

Facing a $120,000 shortfall in parking revenue due to the implementation of free Saturday parking more than a year ago, the council moved to double mater rates, to $1 an hour, and raise permit fees by $200, to an annual $800, beginning April 1.

But DuPont, who heads the finance committee, said the Pink Bank cause — raising breast cancer awareness — is more important than losing a week’s worth of revenues taken from parking meters.

“We are talking about, if I’m correct, the number two killer of women,” he said. “Granted, we are in a crisis, but at some point we’ve got to step up to the plate, and if we don’t make an effort to eradicate this disease then there’s going to be a lot of mothers, grandmothers and daughters who lose their lives.”

Menna took a more cynical approach to the idea of free parking, which, judging by the near-synchronization of affirming head nods, was the consensus among the council.

“It’s basically a PR thing for the sponsor to put their plastic bags on the (meters) and then they float off into the river,” he said.

The council also discussed:

• Soles4Souls, which raised more than 7,500 pairs of shoes to deliver to Haiti and Chile, which both suffered devastating earthquakes. DuPont said although the donation campaign formally culminated at the middle school last Saturday when volunteers collected shoes and loaded a large trailer with the footwear, RiverCenter is still rounding up donations and they’ll be accepted until the end of the week. Councilwoman Sharon Lee boasted Red Bank’s generosity, saying that about 20 percent of the shoes collected were brand new, donated by local businesses.

• The council also recognized, with a praise-laden resolution, Red Bank Regional High School student Michael Lumish. The senior was one of 12 RBR students — and the only one from Red Bank, according to the school’s website — who earned the prestigious Bloustein Distinguished Scholar award.

The award, named for a longtime president of Rutgers University, is bestowed upon students who either rank in the top three of their graduating class or rank within the top 10 percent with at least a 1,260 reading and math score on their SATs. Lumish is expected to attend Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa.