sharon-lee-031611Councilwoman Sharon Lee details her objections to a request to create a community garden at the Red Bank Public Library. (Click to enlarge)

A push for the creation of a community garden at the Red Bank Public Library ran into some mud Wednesday.

Big question: whether that’s the best place for it.

Smaller question: how much will it cost to install a dedicated water line, and who will pick up the tab in these cash-starved times?

Advocates say they whittled a list about 20 borough-owned candidate sites down to three: the library, overlooking the Navesink River at 90 West Front Street; Count Basie Fields; and Marine Park. Others were ruled out for factors such as lack of sun exposure, configurations that would make the creation of plots unlikely and security concerns, said Kathleen Gasienica, who said she and others have been studying the issue for more than a year.

The library site, she said, had already been greenlighted by the state Department of Environmental Protection, which had even thrown in some unsolicited advice on keeping groundhogs out of the vegetables that would be planted.

Council members appeared to embrace the idea of a garden, or gardens, but appeared stuck on whether the first one, if any, should go in at the library site.

“I don’t think many of us would place a garden in the front of our yards,” said Councilwoman Sharon Lee. The library, she said, “is our front yard. It is the only [riverfront] lot the borough has left.”

She also questioned who would get plots, and how those gardeners would be selected.

“This is borough property. It’s for everyone,” she said. “It should not be parceled off for the few, especially when it’s on the river.”

Councilman Ed Zipprich said it would cost about $10,000 to install a dedicated water line to the property.

As for water, Gasienica said, “all we need from the town is to tap into” the water main feeding the library before it reaches the library meter, so that taxpayers aren’t footing the water bill.

But Council President Art Murphy, a homebuilder, said each water customer typically has a dedicated line from the street, which would appear to make a tie-in to the library line impractical, if not verboten.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, one speaker suggested that rainwater from the library be stored in tanks. That, he said, should provide sufficient hydration for the site.

Resident William Poku of the borough’s chapter of the NAACP, said his group favored community gardens. But regarding the library site, he noted, “nobody has mentioned KaBOOm,” the annual fireworks show that typically attracts hundreds of visitors — and is an element in the nonprofit fireworks organization’s plan to charge for premium viewing spots starting with this year’s show.

Garden proponents urged the council to move quickly so that plots might be planted in coming weeks. Councilwoman Kathy Horgan said the council would mull the issues over and act.