By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
Financially, it’s status quo this year at Red Bank RiverCenter. The independent agency that promotes the downtown and West Side special improvement district is working with a zero-increase, $512,000 budget.
Where that money is going, though, is a little different from previous years.
After the borough council gave its approval for the center’s 2010 budget Monday night, redbankgreen caught up with RiverCenter Executive Director Nancy Adams to find out what’s changed in the year’s spending plan.
The folks at 20 Broad Street are stepping up their marketing and advertising of the borough, a move Adams said is much needed at a time when the small businesses are trying to get more traffic through their doors.
For the last three years, the center was paying into a parking/capital improvement fund about $75,000 each year to finance new parking opportunities (there was once talk of a garage) and other improvements. That money is now being redirected into the center’s marketing plans.
That means putting more money into the Red Bank Visitor’s Center, which last year relocated from a storefront on East Front Street to RiverCenter’s office. It also means more of those nifty, pocket-sized dining guides and Only One Red Bank brochures. There’ll be a sequel to the highly-praised wedding walk in the fall and a repeat of the gingerbread walk.
Funds will also be spent on new efforts to liven up foot traffic during the day. For example, every Thursday Wednesday afternoon in June there will be what Adams calls “Lunch Music,” a concert at Riverside Gardens Park between noon and 2p. Adams said restaurants will offer some specials during that period. The idea, she said, is to cater to the borough’s business types who are on their lunch break and the stay-at-home parents looking for something to do in the afternoon.
The center is also overhauling its stagnant, somewhat bland website, Adams said, to include information from the visitor’s center and a better, more dynamic “sell” of the borough to the user.
Adams said she’s also working on, and hoping for, an oyster festival downtown in the fall.
All this promotion comes with the hope that Red Bank will see its way out of this sour economy and emerge as a destination for new businesses and shoppers, Adams said.
“I’m glad we’re trying to step up the marketing and create a new, big image for Red Bank to attract more businesses here and to attract more foot traffic for those businesses,” she said.
The budget, which is funded by a surcharge on commercial properties in the special improvement district, also includes about $11,500 for consulting for a streetscape plan in the center’s three-year-old expansion zone of Bridge Avenue, Monmouth Street and the area of West Front Street west of Maple Avenue. Lightpole banners will also be installed along those locations.
Get a full view of the budget right here: 2010-final-budget