By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
Mayor Pasquale Menna can’t say enough how much he objects to a plan by New Jersey Natural Gas to replace aging equipment in town, although he’s trying his best.
“New Jersey Natural Gas decided they wanted to be modern day Vandals of Red Bank,” he said of the company’s proposed “gas pressure regulator relocation project,” which “sounds very fancy but it’s very ugly.”
The plan, to open up downtown sidewalks and remove old gas regulators, then install new ones above ground, has sent Menna into a whirling tirade against the company, saying it’s acting out of corporate greed and counteracting years of work to preserve the historic downtown.
Menna introduced a resolution Wednesday night opposing the project, and intends to bend the ears of state legislators to cut the gas on NJNG’s plan.
“Absolutely,” he said. “This goes against the grain of something we’ve done the last 25 years. We want to put things underground and they want to dig up the dead and put it right downtown.”
The plan calls for the aging regulators to be dug up in the late spring and early summer and replaced with new devices outside about 80 businesses in the downtown. The regulators, which channel high-pressure gas to a lower pressure for business use, look “like somebody put a toilet bowl pipe outside,” Menna said, and putting them on borough sidewalks is tantamount to vandalizing.
There are already a couple of the above-ground regulators downtown, Menna said, but adding another 80 of “the most hideous, ugly, disgusting-looking horse posts” will disrupt the historic look of the area. He’s also miffed that the company brought forth the plan with no consultation with borough leadership.
“I think it calls for very, very strident action on our part,” he said. “Our business community is up in arms over it, our residents are up in arms over it, and it deals a mortal blow to our historic district. And it’s up to our legislators to take action.”
Menna said they also pose a safety hazard, and he’ll be taking his complaints to the state Board of Public Utilities as well as legislators, he said.
“I’d like to see one in front of the (homes) of the executives of New Jersey Natural Gas in their homes in Rumson or wherever, in shiny yellow” to see how they like it, he said.