By JOHN T. WARD
Red Bank officials are abandoning a controversial plan to remove Maple Cove from the town’s inventory of preserved lands, the Asbury Park Press reports.
Instead, the borough council will ask the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to delist only a parking lot adjacent to the nearby public library, the Press reports.
The borough council, which now includes Maple Cove advocate Cindy Burnham among its members, meets Wednesday night, when it will take up a resolution leaving Maple Cove and the adjoining Maple Avenue parking area on the list.
The measure also calls for the library parking lot to be subdivided out of its waterfront parcel and removed from the list. The library building itself is not part of the dispute.
The recommendation came from borough Engineer Christine Ballard, the Press reports.
The DEP, however, has final say, and a spokesman told Press reporter than while the agency was aware of the proposed resolution, that document “is not part of our process.” A decision is expected in coming weeks, the spokesman said.
Hoping to safeguard Red Bank’s only direct public access to the Navesink River, Maple Cove users and preservationists packed a meeting in late December to protest a plan to remove the site from the town’s official Recreation and Open Space Inventory, or ROSI. They feared that would clear the way for the property to be sold for development.
Borough officials have been under pressure by the DEP for nearly two years to address what the agency says is a violation of regulations governing ROSI sites, which may have parking lots, but only for users of the open spaces they serve, the DEP contends.
Because the two Red Bank parking areas at issue are not dedicated to open space use, the borough is in danger of losing access to Green Acres funding for ongoing and future projects elsewhere in town, the DEP has said.
Town officials contend that while the sites have been on the ROSI for decades, they did not know of the rules governing parking.
Here are the transcript of the December 30 hearing and the proposed resolution on Wednesday’s agenda: