By JOHN T. WARD
Red Bank Councilman Mike DuPont has signaled he will oppose a proposal for a privately owned recreational center on the site of the borough’s riverfront tennis courts in Marine Park.
Calling the proposal, by Jetsun Enterprises, “10 pounds of potatoes in a 5 pound bag,” DuPont wrote in a letter that it “puts every imaginable use down at Marine Park with the exception of not having a ferris wheel” and could turn Red Bank into “Coney Island South.”
DuPont’s remarks, contained in a not-yet-published letter to the editor of the triCity News and shared with redbankgreen Monday, signaled a bumpy reception for the Jetsun plan, should it emerge as the frontrunner of two competing proposals to develop the waterfront site. The second, called the Marine Park Activity Center, calls for a conventional boathouse with a catering facility.
A third plan, funded by a $500,ooo donation by Jim Cullen, of Locust, would restore the red clay tennis courts, which have been unusable since they were damaged by Hurricane Sandy in October, 2012.
Though there’s been no official endorsement of the Jetsun plan, DuPont told redbankgreen he had heard that the proposal, dubbed Red Bank Harbor, had won the recommendation of both the Parks and Recreation advisory committee and a three-member oversight committee of council members: Linda Schwabenbauer, Kathy Horgan and Ed Zipprich.
Schwabenbauer, however, declined to confirm that both groups had endorsed the Jetsun plan. She told redbankgreen that both committees had finished “scoring” the proposals according to criteria contained in the RFP. Now, she said, she’s drafting a memo of recommendation to the full council.
That memo won’t be submitted before the council meets on Wednesday night, she said, and will probably be submitted by Monday. She expects the issue to be on the August 26 council agenda.
Apparently hoping to set the tone of that discussion, DuPont, citing the 1995 Master Plan and the 2006 Waterfront Plan, said both documents encouraged waterside activities and “an increase in access to the water and promotion and or passive uses.”
But neither, he wrote, “recommends, suggests or empowers the Mayor and Council to increase the uses of Marine Park. Instead, through a well drafted Master Plan it recommends an increase of passive uses to allow for access to the river such as a kayak rental facility, increase boat tie ups at Marine Park and possibly swimming.”
Though he said he loved the “energy” of the Jetsun proposal, “commercializing one of Red Bank’s most valuable assets is not the answer. The answer is having a plan that opens Broad Street to the River and enhancing our use and access to the river.”