By JOHN T. WARD
Motorists whose cars and trucks are impounded by Red Bank police won’t have to travel as far as in the recent past to recover them, under a lease in the works for a new storage yard location.
The deal would also solve a vexing logistical problem for police, Chief Darren McConnell told the borough council last week.
McConnell asked the council to consider authorizing a proposed lease for a site on Central Avenue, in the town’s industrial core, for use as a vehicle impound yard.
Police impound vehicles when drivers are arrested for driving under the influence, when their registrations are expired and in other select cases, McConnell said. Usually, the vehicles remain under police control for only a few days, but some sit for weeks, and still others are abandoned by their owners or deeded over the to the town, which auctions them off several times a year.
For years, towing companies contracted by the borough stored vehicles on their own properties, but they complained about not having room themselves, McConnell said.
Under an interlocal agreement that began in 2008, impounded cars were stored at the Tinton Falls impound yard, on Tinton Avenue, with that town collecting a portion of the storage fees and proceeds from the auctions, McConnell said.
Tinton Falls, however, ran out of room for Red Bank, and ended the agreement at the close of 2016, McConnell said. A fruitless hunt for real estate ensued.
“We tried surrounding towns. Nobody had a facility big enough for us,” McConnell said. Same with Monmouth County government, he said.
For the past year, Red Bank has been without an impound yard,”making do,” he said. Vehicles have been held at borough hall and at the recycling center on West Sunset Avenue and other borough facilities, but they have to be in a secure location, he said.
Now, the borough has an opportunity to rent vacant property formerly used by a towing company to store towed vehicles on Central Avenue, opposite the Globe Petroleum property. The yard is fenced and can accommodate 15 to 20 vehicles, which may be sufficient, McConnell said. If not, the borough can hold more frequent auctions, he said.
Tax records indicate the lot is a portion of a 2.5-acre parcel owned by R.J.E.S. LLC. The terms of the prospective lease have not been disclosed because they’re still under negotiation, McConnell said Friday.
But “the proceeds from the auctions and the storage of the vehicles would more than cover the rent for the facility, with some funds left over, if we use our five-year average,” McConnell told the council. “And it would solve our operational issue of not having any place to put cars right now.”
McConnell told redbankgreen the borough collected $1,500 to $1,700 a month in storage fees during the Tinton Falls deal, and generates $15,000 to $20,000 per year in auction proceeds.
“I think it’s a logical solution,” said Mayor Pasquale Menna. “Frankly, knowing what we receive in terms of sales, I think your assessment is right. Although we will not be making a lot of money, the costs would be more than outweighed” by auction and storage fees, he said.
Once a vehicle owner has settled up with the borough, a police officer will accompany him or her to the lot to unlock the gate for vehicle removal, McConnell said. The lot is about a mile from the police station; the Tinton Falls yard is nearly five miles away.
A lease agreement has to be drawn up and may be approved at the next council meeting, scheduled for January 24.