ATRIUM TRIMS HIGH-RISE PLAN

atriumA proposed addition to the Atrium, at left, would be built between the existing structure and the neighboring Riverview Towers, right. The parking lot in the foreground, bound by Riverside Avenue and West Front Street, is slated for upgrades by the Atrium’s owner. (Click to enlarge)

The owner of a luxury senior citizens’ high-rise in Red Bank has curtailed its plans to nearly double the size of the facility with a proposed 12-story addition on Riverside Avenue, redbankgreen has learned.

Instead, Springpoint Senior Living — formerly PHS Senior Living, and before that, Presbyterian Homes — will revert to an older, approved plan for just six stories, says Springpoint chief operating officer Chuck Mooney.

The move was driven largely by economics, Mooney said. But it was also taken to head off a battle with residents of the neighboring Riverview Towers high-rise, he acknowledged.

“We are concerned about having a protracted series of hearings” at the zoning board, Mooney said.

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ON TUESDAY’S BALLOT: SCHOOL BUDGET BLUES

rbboe-041410Red Bank residents at Wednesday night’s presentation on the borough school district budget, led by Superintendent Laura Morana, below. (Click to enlarge)

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Hoping to whip up support for a spending plan crafted in the midst of what Superintendent Laura Morana called “incredibly devastating” cuts in state aid, Red Bank school officials brought their mini roadshow on this year’s proposed budget to voters again last night.

Appearing at the River Street Commons senior citizens’ center — once, the River Street School — Morana sought to demonstrate that her administration built its $19 million spending plan from the ground up, with an eye toward maintaining the quality of education for the two-school district.

The spending plan goes before voters next Tuesday. Bottom line, for the owner of a home assessed at the borough-average $405,000: a 3.75 percent tax increase of $77.78, or $6.49 per month.

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

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Will rubbing Buddha‘s belly, as folklore suggests, bring you wealth on this day of reckoning with the taxman?

Our Where-savvy readers will first have to locate the statue before cashing in on any returns. If you find it, or already know its location, please drop us an email us with WHERE in the subject line.

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BATH JUNKIE GETS UNEXPECTED CLEANING

bath-junkieBath Junkie executives made an unplanned trip to Red Bank Monday to restock their Monmouth Street store after an employee allegedly cleaned it out of all merchandise. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Passersby and boudoir-supply shoppers may have noticed something was a little off at Bath Junkie on Monmouth Street in recent weeks.

The store was empty.

But despite the resemblance to the dead-of-night departures sometimes seen in downtown Red Bank, there’s good news: the store is sticking around.

The bad news for the company that owns the shop: it was cleaned out of all its merchandise, shelves and displays, says company CEO Judy Zimmer.

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LONE CANDIDATE FACES THE VOTERS

naacp-041310Ben Forest, below, met with residents Tuesday night in a forum sponsored by the Red Bank NAACP. (Photos by Anthony Trufolo; click to enlarge.)

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It was board of ed candidate’s night last night at Red Bank’s Calvary Baptist Church.

That’s right: ‘candidate,’ singular. The Red Bank school board, though it has three open seats in next week’s election, has only one declared candidate: incumbent finance committee chairman Ben Forest.

He fielded questions at a sit-down hosted by the local chapter of the NAACP.

“There was a lot of concern about budget cuts, particularly cuts to the athletic program,” Forest tells redbankgreen.

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WHO’S RUNNING, AND WHO ISN’T

menna-052609-2The path to a second term appears unobstructed for Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna.

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Mayors Pasquale Menna and Mike Halfacre, of Red Bank and Fair Haven, respectively, don’t appear to have any competition in their re-election bids this year.

Both men filed petition paperwork on Monday, the state deadline, to run for re-election. No one else filed for their seats.

But they could face competition if independents write-in for the June 8 primary and November 2 general election ballots.

Menna told redbankgreen that the absence of an opponent “doesn’t mean anything. ” He said he’s only concerned with his role the next four years as the borough’s top executive.

“I can only keep on doing what I’ve been doing and do it the best I can,” he said.

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PARK RESTROOMS VANDALIZED

riverside4The restrooms at Riverside Gardens Park were apparently broken into, used and abused recently. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

One needed to get within only a few feet of the restrooms at Red Bank’s Riverside Gardens Park in recent days to become victim of a most egregious assault on the olfactories.

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It’s difficult to describe the alien fetor, nor would it be appropriate here, just as it would be to describe what one would have seen upon entering the men’s room.

Suffice it to say that the the sticky floor was the least of it.

The ladies’ room wasn’t much better, according to a redbankgreen reader who alerted us to this situation late last week. She emailed to tell us she’d popped in to use the facilities while jogging, and was “appalled” by what she encountered:

I am an easy going person………to put it simply, it was truly DISGUSTING! It made NJ transit bathrooms look like the Ritz…

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ART IN BLOOM, UP AT McKAY’s

danschroll

Brookdale Community College faculty member Dan Schroll (upper right) is the subject of the solo art show DOCUMENTS • FLOWERS, opening Friday at McKay Imaging Gallery.

By TOM CHESEK

It’s been several months since we’ve been able to bring you news of an exhibit at McKay Imaging Gallery, the Red Bank studio established by the husband/wife team of Robert and Elisabeth McKay as a venue for promoting local interest in photography as fine art.

On Friday, the McKays break their unusually long interlude with another in a series of public-invited opening receptions in their walk-up space at 12 Monmouth Street. It’s an event that’s positioned as “Breaking Away” from the gallery’s mission of focusing upon the captured image — even as it strikes a personal note that Bob McKay says “comes full circle” back to the origins of the successful family business.

Entitled Documents • Flowers, the solo installation assembles recent collages and drawings by Brookdale Community College faculty member Dan Schroll — a veteran of 30-plus years in the BCC Visual Arts department, and a respected educator whose graphic design class just happens to have been the place where Bob and Liz first met.

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ZEBU’S ON THE MOVE… OUT BACK

zebu-backZebu Forno is expanding into this space formerly occupied by Red Bank Red Hot. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Freehold, Hoboken, Holmdel and Morristown have all been targets of expansion by Zebu Forno owner Andrew Gennusa.

The dour economy, however, stunted that growth. The baking racks and coffee urns of the latter three shops were boxed up and moved out in 2009, an admittedly painful year for Gennusa.

But he’s trying to “turn that negative into something positive,” he said, and is again ready to expand, this time to a much safer, and familiar, location: a 600-square-foot shoebox of a space that’s conveniently attached to his Red Bank store on the English Plaza side.

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GOING FOR SECONDS… FOR A GOOD CAUSE

Done1It isn’t gluttony if it’s for a good cause, right?

So go ahead, take a refill on that chianti, heap a little more onto that dinner plate and dig into the area’s finest comestibles.

Your waistline will forgive you, and by the end of the 10th Annual Two Rivers Food and Wine Tasting, the beneficiary of your supping will probably thank you.

The Red Bank Rotary‘s popular smorgasbord this year benefits the Affordable Housing Alliance, which develops low-cost homes in Monmouth and Ocean counties.

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Y ZONE CHANGE QUASHED BY COUNCIL

rb-councilCongregation Beth Shalom Secretary Sara Breslow speaks against a proposed zoning ordinance at Monday’s council meeting. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Red Bank’s borough council voted 4-1 against a contentious ordinance amendment that would have made the Community YMCA a permitted use at its longtime location Monday night, effectively ending the organization’s recent bid to expand the Maple Avenue facility.

It very well may be the council’s most expensive vote this year, according to Mayor Pasquale Menna.

“My only admonition is that it’s going to be really costly for the borough. I can’t guarantee what happens,” he said.

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RARE BREED SQUEAKS INTO TOWN

rarebreedOrlando Dawkins of Tinton Falls checks out a pair of sneaks on opening day at Rare Breed earlier this month. (Click to enlarge)

By WID CONROY

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Newly shuffled into downtown Red Bank is Rare Breed, a sneaker store at 16 White Street.

Owners D.J. Senatore and Stephen Perri, who moved their business here from Brighton Avenue in Long Branch, are counting on what they say is a distinctive  mix of sneakers, T-shirts, caps and accessories to draw customers to their storefront across the street from Nirvana.

“I hate the word ‘streetwear,’ but that’s one way to describe what we sell,” says Senatore.

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POLICE BLOTTER

rbpd3 patrolCrime reports provided by the Red Bank Police Department for the week of April 2 to April 9, 2010. This information appears here unedited.

Theft occurring 4-4-10 at Shrewsbury Ave.-Gas Station. Employee reported that unknown person(s) stole an AT&T I Phone from the attendant’s booth in the station. Ptl. George Travostino.

Lost wallet occurring on 4-5-10 at W. Bergen Place. Victim reported that while at the Laundromat she lost her navy blue wallet which contained I.D. and ATM cards. Returned to the Laundromat but unable to locate her wallet. Ptl. Matthew Ehrenreich

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A SECOND CHANCE AT HAPPINESS

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From the Today Show to her appearance tomorrow night in Red Bank, THE HAPPINESS PROJECT author Gretchen Rubin has followed her bliss right to the Number One spot on the NY Times bestseller list.

The pursuit of happiness can take you to some pretty unexpected places — just ask Gretchen Rubin, whose own chronicle of the year she spent “test-driving studies and theories about how to be happier” has taken the former US Supreme Court clerk straight to the top of the New York Times bestsellers list.

Tuesday night, April 13, the author of The Happiness Project follows her bliss to Red Bank, where she’ll visit NovelTeas Authors Aromas & Gifts for a sold-out reading and signing appearance that was originally scheduled for what turned out to be a decidedly snowy evening back in February.

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CBS EXEC JOINS THE SHOW AT BASIE

vinniefavalefrankiekeane Vinnie Favale, pictured at left with HEREAFTER writing partner Frankie Keane,  joins a volunteer entity that includes local politicians, business leaders, eminent professionals and at least one familiar face from the big screen.

By TOM CHESEK

David Letterman knows him as one of the network suits — vice president of late night programming (East Coast) for CBS — and as an occasional presence on the Late Show itself. Howard Stern knows him as “Vinnie from CBS,” the commuter whose frequent call-ins from his morning bus trip made him famous for his figure and his weight. Local audiences might even know him as the writer and lyricist of an original musical about life after death.

To the staff of the Count Basie Theatre, Vinnie Favale is family, as the theater named the Lincroft resident to its board of trustees last week.

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BREAKING PLEDGE, HALFACRE SEEKS 2ND TERM

halfacre-tatCan he leap his own pledge in a single bound? Mayor Mike Halfacre’s calf tattoo, bearing his initials and those of his wife and children. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Mike Halfacre’s days in politics aren’t over yet. And he’s willing to break a longtime pledge to prove it.

just_in1Following his withdrawal from the District 12 Congressional race last week, the Republican tells redbankgreen that he’s running for a second term as mayor of Fair Haven in November.

“Yes I am,” he said. “I’m running for mayor in 2010.”

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BANK EYES FORMER HOVNANIAN HQ

old-k-hov-hqIt’s been a few years since anybody’s operated in there, but a bank hopes to make the old Hovnanian home base its new digs. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

For the first time in four years, the former headquarters of home builder Hovnanian Enterprises has a serious candidate to take up residence in the Middletown building overlooking the Navesink River.

Neighbors don’t want it.

Valley National Bank, which is listed as the owner of the 27,000 square-foot, four-story building, has submitted plans to build a drive-through at the Route 35 location and use the other three levels for already-zoned office use.

The Wayne-based bank chain, with branches nearby in Red Bank and Middletown, is in the midst of zoning board hearings as it seeks a variance to use the property for bank purposes, said Jason Greenspan, Middletown’s planner.

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SEA BRIGHT MAYOR WANTS SMALLER BUDGET

sea-bright-councilThe Sea Bright Borough Council, above, introduced the 2010-11 municipal budget Tuesday night. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The Sea Bright Borough Council unveiled i’s 2010-11 budget Tuesday, but it still isn’t quite up to snuff for Mayor Maria Fernandes.

She wants the $5.16 million fiscal plan trimmed by $90,000, which she says would equate to a zero increase for taxpayers.

That is on the municipal end of things, anyway.

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

where_040810_ir Separated at birth? This week, we go indoors for our ‘Where.’ The spongy creature is merely a visual bonus, folks. You gotta locate the underlying image, which, may or may not be Bikini Bottom. If you can, email us with WHERE in the subject line, please.

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SUMMING UP MR. DARROW, AT TWO RIVER

henrymillerclarencedarrow1Actor and trial attorney Henry Miller (left) visits Red Bank in ALL TOO HUMAN, the one-man show that he wrote and stars in as famed lawyer Clarence Darrow (right).

By TOM CHESEK

Even laymen can cite his most famous cases by name: “Leopold and Loeb” for one; the “Scopes Monkey Trial” for another. Like Tommy James reminding us that he did “Crimson and Clover” and “Mony Mony,” there’s no doubt that Clarence Darrow was the kind of lawyer who had “greatest hits.”

Dead for more than 70 years, America’s greatest legal eagle of the early 20th century would hardly seem to be in condition to tour the oldies circuit these days. But fortunately for the legacy of this impassioned advocate for the Little Guy and the Big Idea, he’s got an eloquent champion to argue his case.

A published author, partner in a White Plains, NY law firm and card-carrying member of Actors Equity, Henry G. Miller might appear to have enough on his docket these days. But, as the actor-attorney points out, there’s nothing he likes better than to step into the suspenders of the legendary Mr. Darrow for an hour or two — and it’s an experience he’ll be sharing with audiences at the Two River Theater this weekend.

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REPORT: RUMSON SCHOOLS TO CUT 16 JOBS

hot-topic rightWith no state aid coming from Trenton this year, the Rumson school district will eliminate 16 jobs and still ask voters to approve a 4-percent increase in taxes this month, according to today’s Asbury Park Press.

The district is faced with closing a $1.34 million budget gap that results from the loss of $666,000 in aid, increases in health insurance and benefit costs, and other, contractual obligations, the Press reports.

From the Press:

The district made $875,000 worth of cuts, including 16 full-time positions and reducing three full-time jobs to part time, said Scott Feder, superintendent of schools.

“The things we were looking to maintain were class size, which ranges from 20 to 26 (students per class),” Feder said.

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IS IT MAY ALREADY?

pink-bank-040710Lisa Vitello of Red Bank, a hostess at the Broadway Diner on Monmouth Street, took advantage of Wednesday’s warm weather to paint curbing in anticipation of next month’s Paint the Town Pink breast cancer awareness effort. (Click to enlarge)

The weatherbot says we’re in for another warm, sunny day today.

Thunderstorms are possible tonight, and Friday’s shaping up as cloudy. But the weekend? Back to sunny, with oh-so-mild temps peaking in the low-to-mid 60s.

Here’s the National Weather Service look-ahead:

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GOOD KARMA’S GONNA GET YOU

good-karmaThe gals behind Good Karma: Gail Doherty, left, and Tiffany Betts. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Gail Doherty and Tiffany Betts are back in town. And this time, they’re completely above ground.

As many locals remember, they were in Red Bank for seven years at Down To Earth, Doherty’s award-winning vegetarian restaurant, which operated below street level at 7 Broad Street until 2006.

After Down To Earth went dark, each woman went her own way.

Doherty headed south to Asheville, N.C., where she worked for a vegetarian chain and wrote her second vegan cookbook. Betts, who was Doherty’s kitchen manager, started a family and continued to work in the vegetarian realm at Kaya’s Kitchen in Belmar.

Now the two are back, and in the same vein as Down To Earth, are getting ready to open up Good Karma, a casual café/juice bar/restaurant that will cater to the vegetarian and vegan lifestyle like no other in the area.

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YMCA ZONE ISSUES HEADS BACK TO COUNCIL

ymcaMaple Avenue’s most famous non-conformer, the Community YMCA, will again seek permitted-use status. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The hottest potato in town is back in the hands of the Red Bank Borough Council.

A proposed ordinance amendment that would make the Community YMCA a permitted use on Maple Avenue is moving toward a final vote by the council, presumably at its meeting next Monday night.

But the council will be acting without the aid of a resolution that Mayor Pasquale Menna believes the governing body may need in the event that the amendment is shot down, triggering a lawsuit.

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