RED BANK: COUNCIL OKS SIGNS, SEWER FIX

sidewalk sale 3 072712A properly displayed sandwich board sign on Broad Street. Too many others, however, impede pedestrians, a downtown building owner said. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The Red Bank borough council took action on a number of matters involving borough parks, sidewalks and sewers at its semimonthly meeting Wednesday night.

Here’s a bullet-point rundown.
canopy bench 081216A canopied bench of the type contemplated for installation at three borough parks, according to officials. (Click to enlarge.)

• Almost four years after it was knocked out of commission by Hurricane Sandy, the sanitary sewer pump station located next to the red clay tennis courts in Marine Park is about to be rebuilt, under a contract authorized by the council.

And with it will come new restrooms in the park, which has had portable toilets on site since the October, 2012 storm put the lowest portion of the facility under some 10 feet of Navesink River water.

Precise Construction of Freehold Township won the work with a low bid of $1.99 million, said borough Administrator Stanley Sickels. The contract calls for the pump station to be relocated to a higher elevation in the park — the site of long-dormant shuffleboard courts  — to protect it from future flooding. A portion of the cost is to be covered by funding from the Federal Emergency Management Administration and insurance funds, officials have previously said.

Also included in the contract are new restrooms, to be located near the pump station; a new fence and retaining wall alongside the tennis courts, though no determination on the future of the still-idled courts themselves has been made; a new flagpole; park lighting; and lighted bollards.

Work on a pump station at Bodman Place is also covered by the contract.

Sickels said the work is expected to take about six months. Meantime, according to Councilman Mark Taylor, the parks and recreation committee is taking a “holistic” approach to possible changes in the park before a decision is made on the tennis courts. A college intern hired by the parks and rec department will be conducting user surveys there in coming weeks, he said, and the committee expects to recommend the hiring of a park-design consultant.

Separately, in an email newsletter sent out by Taylor and fellow council Republicans Linda Schwabenbauer and Mike Whelan earlier this week, the consultant was identified as Project for Public Spaces, the same firm that guided the borough in the creation of Riverside Gardens Park on the former site of an apartment complex two decades ago.

• The council authorized the filing of a Monmouth County Open Space grant application to cover half the anticipated $456,000 cost of installing gazebos, shaded benches and dugout covers at Count Basie Fields, Mohawk Pond and Eastside Park.

As previously reported by redbankgreen, officials said the structures are needed because there are few spots for park users to find shelter from the hot summer sun, particularly when watching kids’ ballgames.

Along with all other council members, Councilwoman Cindy Burnham voted yes on the measure, “for the children,” she said, but voiced opposition to the continual pursuit of grants that commit the borough to spending large sums.

“It’s these kinds of matching grants that raise our taxes,” she said. “It’s a lot of money.”

Bill Meyer of Tinton Falls, owner of the retail and office building at 12 Monmouth Street, agreed.

After abandoning an effort to install a spray park at Bellhaven Natural Area, “now we’re talking about half a million dollars to put shade up in a park,” he said. “It really does sound like a waste of money.”

Here’s the resolution on the matter: RB 16-231

• The council unanimously adopted an ordinance reauthorizing the display of sandwich board signs on downtown sidewalks.

Meyer complained that many stores flagrantly violate the conditions of the law, placing them near curbs, blocking walkways and leaving them out overnight. One business even placed its sign at a busy corner several doors away, he said.

“You’re going to have an issue with it as soon as your you get someone in the legal business who wants to make quick money,” said Meyers, himself a lawyer.

Here’s the text of the ordinance: RB 2016-13

• Retired borough employee Freddie Boynton repeated a contention he has made in the past at council meetings: that public works employees are forced to drive unsafe vehicles, and that their written reports on defects are ignored.

In response, Menna ordered public utilities director Cliff Keen to compile all the reports from the past three months and to meet with him on the matter Friday morning.

• In response to complaints from tenants at the Colony House apartment building, the council introduced an ordinance amendment that would have the effect of creating three new parking spaces on Bodman Place, Whelan said. A hearing with possible final adoption was scheduled for September 14. Here’s the text: RB 2016-17

• Checks of $12,000 each were presented to representatives of two borough-based nonprofits: HABcore, which provides housing for about 200 people who would otherwise be homeless, and Lunch Break, which feeds the needy.

The funds represented the proceeds of the second annual Mayor’s Ball, held in May. A $1,000 donation was also donated to the Red Bank Borough Education Foundation.