A SANDWICH BOARD SUMMER, MAYBE

sandwich-boardThis Monmouth Street business has a half a sandwich board outside; the borough is considering allowing full-sized versions on sidewalks this summer. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Councilman Ed Zipprich says that for more than a decade, Red Bank’s borough council has chewed over, bandied about and confabbed — all but taken action, really — the idea of allowing businesses to put out sandwich boards on the sidewalks.

“We know this has been debated many times between 1992 and 2009,” Zipprich said.

Yet you haven’t seen one on a borough sidewalk since Mayor Pasquale Menna was in his fifth year as a councilman in 1993.

Could this possibly be the summer of the sandwich board?

Zipprich hopes so.

He’s pushing for the council to resurrect that 1993 ordinance that gave businesses the option to put out sandwich board signs on the sidewalk. It was a one-off, summertime-only thing, Zipprich said. And that’s what he wants to happen this year, as businesses are trying to see their way out of an economic ditch any way they can.

“In these difficult economic times, everybody’s been talking about what stores are opening and closing,” Zipprich said. With a sandwich board, he added, “You are giving the merchants an opportunity to advertise” cheap and effectively.

Judging by the response from council members Monday night, there’s a good chance this proposal can get beyond the dais.

Red Bank RiverCenter, the agency charged with promoting downtown and West Side businesses, has drafted guidelines for local merchants to follow. Menna said he will get in contact with The Equalizers, a local civil rights group for the handicapped, to go over any concerns and make sure the sign configurations comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. And Zipprich told redbankgreen that the topic will get more attention when code enforcement officials meet next week.

The idea also seems to have the support of the council, although council president Art Murphy had concerns with enforceability, saying that it could start with a sign, then “from the sandwich board sign you get Molly the Model out there. Then you’ve got a rack of clothes out on the sidewalk.”

Zipprich said those concerns will all be addressed prior to any approvals. Discussion is expected continue at the council’s next meeting on May 24.