By JOHN T. WARD
It may not seem like much, stacked up against a $22.4 million budget. Still, it’s like finding money on the ground, says first-year Red Bank Councilman Mike Whelan.
A deal Whelan initiated that gives the Count Basie Theatre access to the borough hall parking lot across Monmouth Street has netted the borough nearly $14,000 since it went into effect earlier this year, he says.
Under a licensing agreement approved by the council in May, the Basie call sell 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.
If a council, planning board or zoning board is scheduled, the lot is off-limits to Basie patrons, Whelan said. But meeting cancellations can be immediately communicated to the theater so it can sell spaces.
Those spots include eight new ones created in April 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.
The 15 spaces nearest the police station and borough hall entrance must always be available for public use, even when no government meetings are scheduled, so visitors can access the police station, Whelan said.
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.
“We’re gaining a new source of revenue, which should have been done a long time ago,” he said.
Through October, the Basie had generated $27,840 in revenue from the lot. Half that sum — $13,920 — went directly into the town’s coffers. Whelan estimated the borough’s take by the end of the year will be $20,000.
“It’s not small,” Whelan said. The thinking was that “people were parking here anyway, there was no organization, so let’s partner up” with the Basie, Whelan said. “It’s a source of revenue that should have been done years ago.”
Whelan, who leads the council’s parking committee, counts the deal as one of the small “wins” the committee has scored, including putting every paid spot downtown on the MPay app. Previously, only customers of the White Street lot could pay by app, which enables users to avoid putting coins into meters or standing at a kiosk.
“So while we’re working on turning the Titanic of the Red Bank parking problem, along the way, we’re doing little things.”