By JOHN T. WARD
Items from Wednesday night’s meeting of the Red Bank Mayor and Council:
More downtown parking spaces are being set aside for valet service with the anticipated arrival of Char Steakhouse.
The town has a new head librarian.
And the cost of providing health insurance to borough employees is rising, but at a slower pace than last year.
The council unanimously approved the addition of three valet parking spots on the east side of Broad Street, just below Mechanic Street, outside the former Ashes Cigar Bar, where an extensive makeover into Char has been underway for months. Already, five spots are reserved for valet service on the east side of Broad just north of Mechanic.
Mayor Pasquale Menna and Councilman Art Murphy praised the existing valet systems there and on Bridge Avenue, outside Danny’s Steakhouse. Both operations are privately run. The approved hours of operation, during which the general public is prohibited from occupying the designated spots, are 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily.
Red Bank RiverCenter executive director Nancy Adams tells redbankgreen the southerly spots will be used for drop-off and the northerly spaces for the pick-up of valeted vehicles.
Char owner Matteo Ingrao was not available for immediate comment on the opening plans. He’s rumored to have sunk $2 million into the building, which is owned by Jack’s Music Shoppe owner Jack Anderson.
Virginia Papandrea, the two-time interim director of the library, has been hired to position of director. She succeeds Mary Faith Chmiel, who was forced to resign in October after less than a year in the job.
Papandrea held the job on an interim basis also before Chmiel was hired in November, 2011 and since Chmiel’s departure.
Councilman Mike DuPont, who heads the council’s finance committee, reported that the cost of health insurance is expected to rise 9 or 10 percent this year, which he considered positive in light of a 22-percent increase that added $484,000 in costs to the line item last year.
DuPont said the smaller increase was attributable to a variety of factors, including labor contracts that call for workers to pick up more of the cost, and an employee wellness outreach that has reduced healthcare utilization.
Borough CFO said health benefits cost the borough in the area of $3.5 million last year.
The council held a closed-door executive session after the public session to discuss bargaining talks with unions, said Mayor Pasquale Menna.