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RED BANK: VOTE DELAYED ON RIVER SITES

maple-cove-lot1-500x375-1079427The Maple Cove parking lot during reconstruction in 2011. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Debate over how to classify parking lots at Red Bank’s Maple Cove and the nearby public library was put off for three weeks at Wednesday night’s borough council meeting.

Though the issue appeared on a draft of the meeting’s agenda, the possible delisting of the the two sites from the borough’s Recreation and Open Space Inventory, or ROSI, was removed early in the day.

The controversial issue was tabled until February 12 at the earliest, over the objections of newly installed Councilwoman Cindy Burnham, because a transcript of a three-hour public comment session held last month was not yet ready for review by the governing body, said Mayor Pasquale Menna.

At issue is a state Department of Environmental Protection directive to the town to address what the agency says is a violation of regulations governing ROSI sites. Such properties may have parking lots, but only for users of the open spaces they serve, the DEP contends. If fees are charged for parking, as they are at Maple Cove, the revenue must be used only for the support of that site, the DEP says.

Burnham, who made her political bones as an advocate for Maple Cove as a kayak and canoe launch, has objected to the removal of the two waterfront sites from the ROSI, contending that would expose them to possible sale and development.

“Time is of the essence,” said Burnham about the resolution of the matter. “I think it’s important that we address this issue and not leave it up to the DEP.”

Resident Stephen Mitchell chastised the mayor and council members for scheduling the comment session on December 30, in the midst of a holiday week, and then – except for Councilman Ed Zipprich – not showing up themselves. Had they been there, they wouldn’t need the transcript, he said.

Menna said, however, that a transcript of the December 30 public comment session, which was required by the DEP, has not yet been prepared. It must be read by council  members before they can discuss it, he said. Borough engineer Christine Ballard added that the DEP requires that it be furnished with a transcript as well.

Still, “it was really inconsiderate to set up a meeting on a night when 80 people wanted to be home with their families,” as the council members presumably were, Mitchell said.

Councilwoman Kathy Horgan said she was home with a cold that night.

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