By JOHN T. WARD
Waterfront activist Cindy Burnham says she plans to appeal a municipal court ruling that she disturbed the peace earlier this year in an incident at the Maple Cove boat launch in Red Bank, which she is widely credited with having saved from development.
After a 90-minute trial last Thursday, Judge William Himelman found Burnham not guilty of criminal mischief, but guilty of disturbing the peace. He fined her $358 plus court costs.
On June 15, borough workers called police to Maple Cove, at the Navesink end of Maple Avenue, claiming that Burham had torn up netting laid down by the town to protect newly seeded grass.
Burnham, of Fair Haven, admitted afterward to redbankgreen that she had torn up the netting, but did so after an elderly woman’s kayak dolly became entangled in it.
I cut it out, said said of the dolly. I said, this is bad. I rolled it up and put it to the side, is what I did. I saw it as a liability. I saw it as a danger.”
Police said about 40 square yards of topsoil stability netting had been ripped up and destroyed, and left at the site.
The trial featured the testimony of a DPW employee, a police officer and borough Administrator Stanley Sickels, as well as Burnham.
Burnham’s lawyer, Gary Fox, said he persuaded Himelman that the prosecution “didn’t prove what they had to prove” to win a conviction on the criminal mischief charge.
As for the other ruling, “suffice it to say, we don’t think there were proofs submitted to find that she actually disturbed the peace, and that’s why we’re taking an appeal” to Superior Court, he said.
Burnham called the case a “witch hunt done to shut me up” because she frequently clashes with elected officials.
Burnham was also a plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the borough’s settlement of earlier litigation involving the sale of the former town hall at 51 Monmouth Street to the Community YMCA. Burnham’s lawsuit was thrown out by a Superior Court judge in September.