RED BANK: CRUISES AND CONCESSIONS

riverside-concessionThe little-used concession stand at Riverside Gardens Park could be open regularly in coming months. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Quick bites overlooking the Navesink River, and pleasure cruises on it, were on the Red Bank council agenda Wednesday night, when the governing body authorized two items:

• the operation of the infrequently used concession stand in Riverside Gardens Park

• the development of specs for riverboat cruises out of Marine Park.

The council agreed to the issuance of bid specifications for a year-round lease of the concession stand, which is now opened and operated by the parks and rec department only in conjunction with summer film screenings and jazz shows in the park.

“It’s a waste of resources to have the concession stand not used to its full potential,” Mayor Pasquale said at Wednesday’s semimonthly council meeting. Opening it will “provide some life to the park, and people won’t have to go scrounging for an ice cream.”

The winning bidder would be free to determine when to open, and could operate year-round, but would be required to conduct business during borough events, Menna said. Alcohol could not be sold, he said.

In addition, the concession operator would be responsible for any winterization of the stand that might be necessary to protect its equipment, the council agreed.

Councilman Ed Zipprich suggested holding off the vote on the idea, given that he had received information about the proposal just moments earlier. But Menna said any delay would cut into the warm weather seasons. “We’re really cutting it close for any concessionaire,” he said.

Separately, the council agreed to begin exploring what would be needed to attract a a vendor to provide cruises on the Navesink, docking at the promenade in Marine Park.

Menna noted that a vessel known as the Big Kahuna once offered river rides and catered cruises out of the adjoining Irwin’s Marina. He said the operation “was a success for some years,” and only ended when the owners sold the vessel.

He said that a cruise operates out of Toms River, and one in Red Bank would help keep the borough competitive in the battle among Shore towns to attract visitors.

Still, it’s “obviously too late” in the year to expect that a cruise operation could be up and running this year, Menna said. “It’ll probably take a number of months to get that going.”

But the borough should begin looking into parking and related issues, he said. The possibility of running a shuttle to a borough parking lot was discussed.

Councilman Mark Taylor, the liaison to parks and rec, said he has concerns about Americans with Disability access and parking, “but I don’t think it’s a bad idea.”