By JOHN T. WARD
Red Bank bends over – if not quite backwards, but with plastic bags in hand – for dogs, with a monthly street-closing festival for man’s best friend in the dog days of summer. But nowhere in town can a dog owner unleash and let Fido run free.
Not legally, at least.
At least three borough council members and the dog-owning mayor think that’s a situation that needs, um, to be fixed.
Republican Cindy Burnham last month floated the idea of converting part of the Hurricane Sandy-ravaged red clay tennis courts in Marine Park to a facility where dogs could cavort.
The suggestion met resistance. Mayor Pasquale Menna said the state Department of Environmental Protection probably wouldn’t allow it, give the proximity of the courts to the Navesink River just steps away. He alluded to urine infiltrating the waterway.
“Dogs pee in the park all the time,” Burnham replied, adding that she’d checked with the DEP, which she said told her it would have no objections.
Earlier this month, Democrat Mike DuPont, who had been absent when Burnham raised the issue, said he’d seen a dog facility next to the municipal complex in Marlboro, which made him think Red Bank needed something similar, he said at the January 14 council meeting.
He said he disagreed that the facility should be at the courts, which he’d like to see rebuilt, but agreed with Burnham that the town needs someplace where dogs can run and play.
Burnham, though, said it was “insane and irresponsible that for two years those courts have sat there [unrepaired] in a fully funded Green Acres park.” Though others on the council disputed that Green Acres funding was a factor, Burnham said “we could have a run without [spending] any money. The fencing is already there.”
Menna Administration officials have said they were concentrating on getting a sewer pump station and lavatory facility next to the courts – both of which were wrecked in the October 29, 2012 hurricane – rebuilt before resolving the future of the courts.
Republican Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer, a dog owner who joined the governing body this month and was appointed liaison to the parks and rec department, said the committee that oversees the department “would be happy to look at” various options and report back at a future council session.