locust trail 073112Locust Place, as seen in 2012, above, links Locust Avenue with the Red Bank Primary School, as seen in the aerial below. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


rb locust pl 070914For years, a narrow dirt path through a stretch of woods has been the best option for many Red Bank children trying to avoid a long walk to the primary school.

The path, snaking alongside the Navesink River from Locust Avenue to the school, has also been eyed by emergency responders as an alternative access route for firetrucks and ambulances, should something go wrong at the school.

“It’s been on the drawing board for 20 years,” said Mayor Pasquale Menna.

Now, the borough hopes to secure funding to make the $207,000 path a reality.

At present, the only road access to the school is via River Street. In the event of an emergency at the riverfront school, police, fire and first aid could find their access to the school impeded by an exodus of students and staff, said Engineer Christine Ballard.

The path, used as a shortcut by dozens of kids daily, is frequently muddy, because of its proximity to wetlands.

The proposed path would be about 700 feet long of porous blacktop, rather than impermeable asphalt, Ballard said. Bollards at either end would block regular vehicular traffic while allowing for emergency access, she said.

The borough council last week authorized Ballard to file an application with Monmouth County for a Community Development Block Grant to cover the cost of the path.

The plan also calls for the possible inclusion of an underground water line to the school for emergency use. Ballard said that would add an estimated $100,000 to the cost, which would not be covered by the grant.