By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
Nature enthusiasts received a good sign earlier this week both literally and figuratively that the patch of land at the foot of Maple Avenue in Red Bank will become a dedicated kayak launch and natural area, as they’ve pushed hard for over the last year.
The one-acre parcel’s moniker, chosen by a pair of Red Bank Regional students last year, was made official Monday night, when representatives from the Navesink Maritime Heritage Association hauled up a heavy-looking cedar sign before the borough council and flashed it for the audience.
Gilded lettering in the center of the 8-foot-long sign reads “MAPLE COVE,” with two small stars vertically placed on each side. The sign is set to be installed at Maple Cove next Saturday, said NMHA official Charlie Ladoulis.
Getting the sign and the borough government’s recognition was a culmination of a year of political wrangling between friends of Maple Cove and officialdom. The group’s desire for a simple sign and some benches had drawn out into a battle over whether doing so at the borough-owned parcel would cost Red Bank tens of thousands in environmental engineering and permit costs.
It all came to an end in December, when officials and local nature lovers came to an agreement that the sign and benches would be allowed.
“I’m very happy. We’re all very happy,” said Cindy Burnham, who had taken the lead in getting the upgrades at Maple Cove. “I just can’t wait for it to be totally complete.”
The sign will bring a little more visibility to the area, Burnham said, which is the only public access to the Navesink River in Red Bank.
Burnham, who Mayor Pasquale Menna referred to as ‘Miss Maple Cove,’ is especially attached to the grassy patch. She’s there nearly every day, either working on cleaning the area up or just relaxing. And that’s what she wants others to do, too.
The sign will help promote that, she says.
“This is a special spot, and you’ve got to come down here to see it,” Burnham said.
It’s an all-around win for the area, said Linda Schwabenbauer of Red Bank. Maple Cove is an ideal location to not only sit and relax, but also take a canoe or kayak and push off into the river, which Schwabenbauer plans on doing.
“I think it’s going to encourage people to get into some water sports that they normally wouldn’t,” she said. “I’m planning on getting into the kayaking. Cindy’s going to teach me.”
Burnham’s work at Maple Cove isn’t over, she says. She’s working on getting the two benches down there, and now has her eyes on carving out a path from the adjoining Red Bank Public Library to the cove.