By JOHN T. WARD
The Red Bank council put off a vote on a plan to expand the paid parking zone in the central business district after calls by merchants and residents for enforcement of existing law Wednesday night.
The objections to the expansion plan came despite a move by the council to enable 15-minute parking in the expansion district west of Maple Avenue.
The proposal, amended since the council introduced the law change two weeks ago, would allow motorists to buy as little as 15 minutes of parking on Monmouth Street between Maple Avenue and Bridge Avenue, and on Bridge from Oakland Street north to West Front Street. Metering would be controlled by 13 new kiosks, which, in a controversial move, the council authorized the purchase of in advance.
At present, kiosks are used to meter off-street parking in the White Street and English Plaza lots, and are programmed to sell time in increments of no less than an hour.
The owners of Prown’s Home Improvement, Fins and Feathers pet supplies and the Bagel Station were among those who pressed the council to simply enforce the two-hour parking limit now in place on western Monmouth and Bridge. Requiring shoppers to pay for parking when making quick stops would hurt business, they said.
“I already have customers complaining they’ll go to Grandma’s in Little Silver or Bagelmasters in Shrewsbury,” said Bagel Station owner Jackie Merlino.
Peter Noble, a former policeman who serves on the board of education, spoke of shopping at Monmouth Meats.
“You make your order and you leave,” he said. But with paid parking, “now I’m talking to the [store] clerk and I’m looking for the brown uniform” of a parking enforcement employee.
Pressed on why the town does not, in the view of business owners, enforce the existing ordinance, Council President Art Murphy said that the borough has issued 96 tickets for overtime parking on Monmouth Street since January 1. But he could not say how many were on the eastern portion of the street, which is metered, or on the western stretch, which is not.
Murphy said the metering plan isn’t about generating revenue but aimed at keeping parking spaces rotated among users.
Officials are also concerned about the impact of about 150 new residences opening at the West Side Lofts, at Bridge Avenue and West Front Street, and the Station Place apartment complex, at Monmouth and West streets, both of which are to be occupied beginning next month. Though both have internal parking for their residents, the complexes are expected to put additional pressure on street parking.
Merchants and nearby residents, however, were frustrated that the town doesn’t ticket cars now left on the street all day long, in violation of the two-hour limit.
“I’ve seen thousands of dollars you could have made if it was enforced,” said property owner Roy Jennings. Ticket issuers “never come,” he said.
“Just give it six months of enforcement,” said his wife, Chowda House owner Mary Jennings, adding that the train station district part was “just starting to get going. You need to give us a little bit of a break.”
Council members, in agreeing to table the vote for at least two weeks, said they would look into hiring an additional part-time enforcement employee.