Seventh-graders from the Red Bank Charter School presented a report on “serving a healthy town,” and Mayor Pasquale Menna, below, returned to the dais after heart surgery. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
• Mayor Pasqule Menna presided over his first meeting following a month away following open-heart surgery. He thanked Council President Art Murphy for filling in for him at various events, and for “chauffering me around – ‘Driving Mr. Daisy,’ I suppose,” he said.
• Seventh-graders from the Red Bank Charter School gave a presentation on a project dubbed “serving a healthy town,” in which they visited various institutions, including a firehouse, the JBJ Soul Kitchen and Bellhaven Nature Area, to get a sense of how they add to the health of the borough. The students also created a table-top model of a “hydroturbine-powered desalination system” and other infrastructure.
Menna commented that the borough was in need of a planning director, if any of the kids was interested.
• The cost to borough taxpayers of the $2.1 million refurbishment of Count Basie Fields five years ago has dropped. The borough got word late Wednesday that the state Department of Environmental Protection had awarded the town $825,000 in Green Acres funding to offset the cost, with 25 percent of that sum in a grant and the balance in the form of a low-interest loan, said borough Administrator Stanley Sickels.
The town bonded for $1.6 million to pay for the project in 2012, and the grant portion will be paid to lower debt-servicing costs, Sickels said.
“We knew we were doing the right thing, though we did get some criticism” when the town embarked on the project, Menna said.
The borough had sought nearly $2 million under the program.
redbankgreen has asked borough officials for a breakdown of all the grants and other payments used to offset the cost of the project and will post the response here when it comes in.
• Missing from the agenda was any mention of a proposed $2 million bond to replace more all residential and business water meters in town. The bond was tabled before introduction on May 28 when unspecified new “information” was provided to the borough, Councilman Art Murphy said at the time.
Bill Meyer, a Tinton Falls resident who owns 12 Monmouth Street downtown, cited some research he’d done into meter technology and encouraged the council to buy only as many meters as it needs to address problems with water loss and unaccounted-for usage.
“We can slowly roll it in,” at a far lower cost than buying all the meters at once. he said of the meter-replacement program.
• Though all new curbing and other infrastructure is in, the repaving of the hellaciously potholed Drs. James Parker Boulevard between Maple and Shrewsbury avenues has been delayed by Conrail, borough Engineer Christine Ballard said.
The freight rail company had asked the borough to hold off on the paving so it could regrade a one-track crossing of the street without damaging the new asphalt, Sickels said. But then Conrail stopped responding to requests for updates. “So we had to get [state Senator Jen] Beck involved,” Ballard said.
• Dog Days of Summer is scheduled to return next week for the first of a monthly series of Tuesday-evening closures of a portion of Monmouth Street so dogs and their owners can socialize. This year’s series will include themed nights, including one honoring service dogs and another spotlighting dogs and their handlers who have served in combat and other military situations, said Menna.
• Also missing from the agenda, and unmentioned, was the a moratorium on parking fees paid in the past by downtown developers.
The moratorium, which has been in effect for five years and repeatedly renewed, is scheduled to end June 30. The council is expected to take up the matter at its semimonthly meeting on June 24.
• Also at the next meeting, Menna said he expects to hand over checks in the amount of $13,000 each to the Parker Family Health Clinic and the borough public library. The money represents the proceeds of the first-ever, sold-out Mayor’s Charity Ball, held at the Oyster Point Hotel on May 2.