By JOHN T. WARD
After a post-election lull, Red Bank Democrats plan to bring in a parking consultant to offer guidance on how to fix parking issues downtown, Councilman Erik Yngstrom said Wednesday.
With the Democrats back in command of the borough agenda with a 4-2 majority, Yngstrom, starting his second year on the council., was appointed on January 1 to head the powerful three-person parking committee. He’s backstopped by fellow council Democrats Kathy Horgan and Ed Zipprich, who is also head of the local party operations.
Sidelined in the transition was Councilman Mike Whelan. He had advanced a possible parking garage and ancillary development on the site of the 2.3-acre White Street municipal lot onto the agenda to a degree not seen in more than a decade. But concept plans submitted by developers met resistance because of their size and scope, while opponents also argued that a fresh and comprehensive parking study was overdue.
It appear they’ll now get it. At Wednesday’s council meeting, Yngstrom said the parking committee had held its first meeting a night earlier, when “great ideas about how to improve parking” were discussed, he said.
“However, the first thing that we do want to do is release an RFQ [Request for Proposals] for a parking consultant to come in and evaluate the downtown business district from the train station to Riverview [Medical Center], and provide us with ideas and solutions for our parking problems,” Yngstrom said in a brief update.
“We as council members are not parking experts up here, and we need this data in order to make such a big decision for our town moving forward.”
Yngstrom said the committee will work with the police department, the planning department tand downtown promotion agency Red Bank RiverCenter “to get this right.”
“We’ve been pushing for this study for a year, and believe that once we have this data and a recommendation from an expert, then we can have a game plan to move forward and then fix our parking problems.”
Yngstrom said the committee hopes to have the RFQ ready for introduction at the next semimonthly meeting, scheduled for January 24.
Yngstrom made no mention of a plan to designate a redeveloper for the White Street lot. Two builders, BNE Realty and borough-based Yellow Brook Property, owned by Roger Mumford, were the finalists in a process that began last April with five contenders for the project.