When Red Bank council members take the dais for their regular meeting tomorrow night, they’ll likely start out discussing a potential new law banning vehicle-idling and expanding private contracts for water and sewer connections.
But what’s notable about these topics is not necessarily their substance, but their source. They wouldn’t have made it onto the council’s dance card had it not been for taxpayers’ input, be it by way of stopping an elected official on the street or sitting through a council meeting waiting for the regular order of business to wrap up and get to the public comment portion an often intimidating forum typically taken advantage of by meeting regulars.
So sticking with a credo of an open government with an open door, Mayor Pasquale Menna said he wants more input and more ideas from the borough’s stakeholders. On Saturday, he plans to launch a series of informal meetings aimed at generating just that.
“The idea is to bring some neighborhood outreach, to make a more comfortable setting for people,” Menna said of the meetings, which he announced at the beginning of the year. “It’s an open forum.”
This gives taxpayers, who may not have the time to make a council meeting or don’t feel comfortable appearing before the council, a chance to speak their mind, air a grievance or share an idea, he said.
“We go to these council meetings and everything is very structured, and a lot of people are intimidated by it,” Menna said. “Sometimes they want to talk to you one on one. It’s a good exploratory session.”
Menna’s chats will take place at various spots around the borough, and will continue through June.
The aim is to get a sense of what’s on people’s minds, and whether there’s something better the council can do, he said.
“This is the type of thing I hope to get out of these meetings,” he said. “Keep the ideas coming.”
The first meeting will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church on River Road. The following week, on May 21 there will be two meetings: the first will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the grounds of the corner park at Drs. James Parker Boulevard and Shrewsbury Avenue. That meeting will be followed by one at the Red Bank Senior Center at 1 p.m., according to a release from the borough.
More meetings for June will be announced “in due course,” the release said.