RED BANK: COUNCIL OK’S BASIE PARKING DEAL

rb parking 041316 2The Count Basie Theatre, seen at right above, will be allowed to charge patrons park in the Red Bank two areas of the borough hall lot, including the new section, above, with the town getting half the revenue.(Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

LicPlate1It’s a scenario all too familiar to civically minded citizens and, ahem, the occasional reporter: you arrive at Red Bank’s borough hall as much as an hour ahead of a government meeting, and already the parking lot is packed with cars belonging to patrons of the Count Basie Theatre across the street. And good luck finding a space nearby.

But now, borough officials say they’ve resolved the turf war that flares up whenever the Basie has an event at the same time as a municipal meeting.

Under a licensing agreement approved by the council in closed session Wednesday night, the Basie will get dibs on 35 spots in the lot that serves municipal hall and the police station at 90 Monmouth Street but only when no government meetings are scheduled, said borough Administrator Stanley Sickels.

Those spots include eight created last month on the former site a borough-owned house and 27 located on the stretch of asphalt that empties out onto Water Street at the north end of the lot.

Not included in the deal, said Sickels, are the 15 spaces nearest the police station and borough hall entrance. Those must always be reserved for public, rather than theater, use, he said, even when no government meetings are scheduled, so visitors can access the police station.

The three-year deal prohibits the theater from using the lot when borough meetings are being held, and requires the theater to oversee lot activity on show nights with uniformed security personnel.

It also allows the Basie to charge for parking, at a rate of no less than $20 per event, with half the revenue going into borough coffers.

“This is a way of controlling the lot operation so [Basie activity] doesn’t conflict with our meetings,” he said. Even participants in lightly attended meetings such as the Shade Tree Committee will be assured parking, he said.

The deal will barely begin to address the Basie’s current demand for parking, let alone that expected under a proposed massive expansion unveiled last October. The theater’s parking shortfall total under the proposal was not immediately available. The Basie has a tentative zoning board hearing date of June 16 for the plan, said planning and zoning director Glenn Carter.

Following the council’s closed-door discussion, the council returned to public session and voted 5-0 in favor of the deal, with Councilman Ed Zipprich recusing himself, according to borough Clerk Pam Borghi.

Here’s the agreement; Borghi said some minor changes that were made by the council are not reflected in this version: RB Basie parking agreement 051116