OFFICIALS COUNTER MAPLE COVE CHATTER

sickles-m-coveStanley Sickels gave a brief history of the parking lot at Maple Cove Wednesday night in response to comments posted on redbankgreen. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

park_it_021Responding to “drama” in the redbankgreen comments section last week in which readers weighed in with speculation, history — or their version of it — and assorted posits about the repaving of the parking lot at Maple Cove, Red Bank officials took a break from Wednesday night’s regular order of business to clear the air. Fact check. Dispel the bloggy bosh.

To “try and shed some factual light,” said Mayor Pasquale Menna, “instead of just hypothetical speculation and gossip.”

Read on. Comment if you dare.

Borough Administrator Stanley Sickels put up a black-and-white schematic diagram of the Maple Cove parking area on an easel and went through a brief history of the site, which until last year had essentially been an unused area leading to the Navesink River.

The borough acquired the property in 1993, and soon after tried to determine the possibility was of putting in a boat launch at the site, Sickels said. The state Department of Environmental Protection put the kibosh on those plans, telling the borough it wouldn’t grant the necessary permits to install a launch because of the river’s shellfish resource restrictions.

“So the property sort of stayed in limbo,” Sickels said.

Some years later, in 2001, police determined the parking lot at the north end of Maple Avenue — what is now called Maple Cove — warranted permits, and implemented the system soon after, issuing 12 permits because that’s how many spots were available, Sickels said.

Construction of the Hovnanian Enterprises headquarters building just up the hill effectively ended the permit era at the lot. Sickels said the borough made a deal with Hov that, in exchange for using the lot as a staging area for construction, Hovnanian would cut a check to the borough. It did, for $17,000, with the agreement that the money would be used for future improvements at the parking lot.

Fast forward to today, and the $17,000 is being put toward the work redbankgreen reported on last week. Paving was scheduled to occur today.

Sickels said when the paving is done, there will again be 12 parking spots at the lot, two of them designated as handicapped spaces.

“The allegation on redbankgreen that we did away with 16 spaces” is false, Sickels said, referring to a reader comment.

One question that’s yet to be answered, though, is, with the return of parking spaces at the Maple Cove lot, will it take a permit to put your car there?

“That is something for the council to decide,” Menna said.

But for all the cyber chatter, he said Sickels’ presentation should put the speculation to bed.

“So, big drama,” he said. “The facts are pretty simple. Thank you.”