RED BANK: MARINE PARK RESTROOMS OPEN

Visitors to Marine Park in Red Bank may be relieved to know that the long-awaited new restrooms are open.

But will they be more accessible than those at nearby Riverside Gardens Park? Read on.

The Marine Park facilities, erected on the site of a disused shuffleboard court alongside Wharf Avenue. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

The restrooms were constructed as part of a $2 million project to rebuild infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Sandy in October, 2012. They replace facilities formerly located beside the still-dormant red clay tennis courts, which were also destroyed and remain out of commission.

The new restrooms were to have been ready by June 1, well in time for a July 3 concert by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. But concertgoers that night ended up having to use portable toilets because the restrooms weren’t finished. Department of Public Utilities Director Cliff Keen attributed the holdup to a contractor’s errors with electrical permits.

The restrooms finally opened Wednesday, Keen said, and for now are available for use from 7 a.m. to dusk, seven days a week.

That’s in contrast to the public restrooms in Riverside Gardens Park, on West Front Street. For access there, users have to request a key from the Gracie and the Dudes ice cream stand that rents space in the borough-owned building. And when the stand is closed, and there’s no borough event underway in the park, the restrooms stay locked.

Why? Because before the key system was implemented, those facilities were subjected to some truly foul behavior by vandals, Keen said. We’ll refrain from going into details here.

Keen said he’s hopeful the experience will be different at Marine Park.

“Because there are always people going back and forth from the hospital, and hospital employees going outside for a smoke, I’m hoping ‘community policing’ will be effective there,” he told redbankgreen.

Meanwhile, DPU is working on a program to install video cameras in to cover “90 percent of borough facilities,” including parks, for security purposes, Keen said. While the cameras won’t be installed inside the restrooms, they will show who came and went around the time of vandalism incidents, he said.

The cameras are also expected to be helpful in reducing theft and vandalism affecting boats docked at Marine Park’s horseshoe-shaped marina, Keen said.

Longer-term, the borough parks and rec committee is exploring a possible redesign of the entire 2.2-acre riverfront park and is seeking a consultant to come up with a concept plan. The deadline for responses to a request for qualifications, or RFQ, is 2 p.m. on Thursday, September 21.