Skip to content

A town square for an unsquare town

redbankgreen

Standing for the vitality of Red Bank, its community, and the fun we have together.

DRAWING A PLAN FOR A WATERFRONT FUTURE

fh-williams-house-061610Unclaimed boats and kayaks will be removed next month from the beach at the former Charles Williams estate, Fair Haven officials say. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

By this time next year, Fair Haven Mayor Mike Halfacre anticipates that the borough’s prized beachfront property at 78 DeNormandie Ave. will be open for public use.

First, though, a few things need to happen — including the demolition of the house that’s been on the property for 150 years, for one.

A formal naming, too, although the working title is “Robards Park,” in honor of the last resident of the house, Winifred Julia Decatur Robards.

Town officials also hope to answer the abiding question of what exactly to do with the property.

A general idea has already been established — to provide a “passive” waterfront recreation area for residents — and was the driving force to purchase the two-thirds-of-an-acre parcel for $1.2 million last year. But now is the time to get down to the specifics, borough officials say.

Allow canoes and kayaks? Tables and benches? If so, how many? Create parking spaces? Will there be safety barriers put up so nobody drives into the Navesink?

Fair Haven leaders took Tuesday morning to address those questions in the first of an anticipated series of meetings to gather input on Robards Park.

“I think we all have an idea of what the park is,” Halfacre said. “This is really brainstorming and trying to figure out what our plan is from here and what the process is going to be.”

Halfacre and department heads tackled the most immediate issues facing them: pulling an oil tank from the property and getting the title to the house “clean” so Fair Haven can close on the property.

The tank shouldn’t be a problem, and is slated to be removed in two weeks, Halfacre said. The title isn’t really a problem, either, he said. But because so many people have lived in and owned the historic house — it was built by Charles Williams, a freed slave, in 1855, and a number of his descendants, all the way down to Robard, took up residence — the title company is having difficulty tracking everybody down to alert them of borough’s plans to acquire it. Notifying them would give them a chance to assert a legal claim.

“(The house) has been handed down generation after generation. Some people died with a will, others died without a will,” Halfacre said. “It’s technical title problems. None of this is insurmountable. It’s just time consuming.”

Halfacre and company also tried to decide what would be done about parking, if anything. They tossed around an idea to create two handicapped parking spaces; others motorists would have to park elsewhere, given the restrictions of the narrow street.

They also wondered if the foot of the street could be widened and bumped out to create a turnaround area for cars.

“Something better than just terminating,” said Rich Gardella, the borough’s public works director, “because right now it just terminates.”

Halfacre said the sidewalk that lines the western edge of the property will be completely redone, and perhaps that will provide an opportunity to improve the surrounding area so cars can drop off kayaks and canoes, then turn around to park elsewhere.

“That sidewalk is a disaster,” he said. “Forget about the fact that it’s dangerous. It’s just unsightly.”

Police Chief Darryl Breckenridge suggested that, considering what happened in Red Bank last week, when a Staten Island man drove from Maple Avenue into the river, that a barrier be put up at the street’s end to avoid accidents.

Barring any problems with the tank removal and cleaning up the title, borough leaders appear to be ready to move into the demolition phase, then get the rebuilding of the land done. The collection of kayaks and canoes occupying the beach will be taken away by public works if they’re not claimed and removed by July 10, they said.

Once the property is owned by the borough, things will move quickly, Halfacre said.

“The day we close, I want to start the demolition,” he said. “I would like to think we’re going to close this year and start working on it so it’s open for spring next year.”

Meantime, more meetings, which are open to the public for input, are planned. The next one will be on the property at 5p on August 2, with the goal of devising a detailed plan for the property.

“I want our plan in place when we close,” Halfacre said.

Remember: Nothing makes a Red Bank friend happier than to hear "I saw you on Red Bank Green!"
Partyline
HOUSING CRUNCH
Demolition begins for new apartments at Globe Court and Mechanic Street.
FEELING SNAPPY
      Snapping Turtles come ashore to lay their eggs this time of year and are a common site along the Swimming River waterfr ...
TUB TIME
RED BANK: A sparrow waits for the next available dirt tub while two others take their Sunday baths. (Click for video.)
CHECK IT OUT
A bench outside the Red Bank Public Library provided a serene view of our beautiful Navesink River Monday evening.
WAYWARD SLIM JIM
Anybody lose a Slim Jim? A “Sweet Mild O’ Mine” flavor Slim Jim was seen left unattended on this mailbox on Mechanic Stree ...
YAPPY TOGETHER
RED BANK: Look for this cutie pie, named Sacramento, at Yappy Hour on Broadwalk Saturday. He's looking for a new home.
YELLOW RAINCOAT DAY
On a rainy May morning, the only golden sight on Broad Street this morning were the matching raincoats of Eileen and her dog Benny.
STOP. JUST STOP.
RED BANK: For those who don't get the meaning of a stop sign, crossing guard Diane Johnson amplifies the message with some colorful outfits. ...
RECORDS SKIP INTO TOWN
RED BANK: Devotees of vinyl records expected to drop needle at Broad and Mechanic Saturday. Here's why.
Feline fortunes on Monmouth Street
Christopher Russell and feline pal Princess take in some fresh air on a warm May night Thursday in the doorway of Gina’s Psychic Bouti ...
GOING UP?
RED BANK: Public Library will be closed Friday for the start of elevator construction. (Click for more.)
TREEBIRTH
RED BANK: Replacement of nine trees gets underway on South Street, where a wholesale removal angered residents last September. (Click for mo ...
RIVERSIDE FLOW
New Jersey Flow Arts brings together jugglers, poi spinners, hoopers and more weekly in Riverside Gardens Park.
Honeybee swarm carted away
Beekeeper Tanya Ptak of Ptak’s Apiary inspects a swarm of honeybees that chose a flower pot in the courtyard of Red Bank Primary Schoo ...
BELOVED POISONED DOG PHOTO SURFACES
   
THREE ON TOUR
RED BANK: Three borough sites will participate in a weekend of self-guided tours of 52 historic locations in Monmouth County May 4 & 5.
VOLUNTEERS GET INTO THE WEEDS
Toting plastic trash bags, 51 volunteers conducted a walking litter cleanup on Red Bank's West Side Saturday.
“IT’S A PARTY AT WAWA!”
You wish you could vibe like Brian, who lives on the other side of Hubbard’s Bridge. He caught redbankgreen’s attention in Red B ...
POPE OKS ORATORY
RED BANK: St. Anthony of Padua obtains papal approval to establish Oratory of St. Philip Neri, a community of priests and brothers devoted t ...
RED BANK: NEW MURAL BRIGHTENS CORNER
RED BANK: Lunch Break founder Norma Todd is depicted in a mural painted this week on the front of the newly renovated social service agency.