MULCH ADO ABOUT MAPLE COVE, AGAIN

11A request for mulch at Maple Cove digressed into a clash between Cindy Burnham and council members Tuesday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

When Cindy Burnham and other volunteers, part of the ad hoc Friends of Maple Cove group, ended a yearlong spat with the Borough of Red Bank and secured a deal to designate a one-acre patch at the foot of the Navesink River on Maple Avenue as a natural area with waterfront access, the understanding was that Burnham and company would maintain the parcel.

So says the town council.

Burnham maintains a different recollection.

“The only reason the Friends of Maple Cove came out to do anything was because you guys wouldn’t,” Burnham told the council Tuesday, following a request that the borough donate a half-truckload of mulch to the site.

The request triggered a kerfuffle between Burnham and the governing body over who should take care of the property, a question that never was answered.

“I think what’s got everybody baffled here is the original agreement was that you would maintain the area,” council President Art Murphy said.

Councilmembers Juanita Lewis and Ed Zipprich, to whom Burnham claims she sent numerous emails about mulch costs without getting a reply — although in Zipprich’s case, Burnham spelled his name wrong in the address — said they couldn’t understand why she was coming to the council in the first place.

“Last year, you couched it to us (that you) were to take care of Maple Cove,” Zipprich said. “These are tax dollars. We’re responsible to the taxpayers of the town. This is not what we agreed to.”

Burnham, who owns property in Red Bank but lives in Fair Haven, raised her arms in frustration, pointing out that a half a truckload of mulch is not too much to ask, and besides, she said, if the council is so worried about tax dollars, then why is Murphy taking benefits from the borough?

“Please Cindy,” Murphy said, “we supported you with this. Nobody up here is going to say you didn’t do a wonderful job down there, but have a funny way of twisting things.”

The question still lingers, however, just who is responsible for Maple Cove? It is, after all, borough property, and public works does do maintenance down there — and, in Burnham’s assertion, some destruction to the site — but Mayor Pasquale Menna said work that’s done at the patch is the same kind of routine maintenance that all municipal property receives. Throwing down mulch is not in the maintenance plan, he said.

Burnham said she felt bullied by the council, and when Murphy tried to end the discussion with a “thank you for coming,” to Burnham, the squabble ended on a bitter note.

“I’m not going to sit here and listen to your rant,” Burnham said.

“We listened to yours,” Councilwoman Kathy Horgan said.