By JOHN T. WARD
That’s when the borough council is expected to designate a parking consultant, to be paid for in part with funds from Red Bank RiverCenter.
On Wednesday, the downtown promotion agency’s board of directors approved a $25,000 contribution toward the cost of a comprehensive parking study, said RiverCenter Jim Scavone.
The approval came at a meeting at Riverview Medical Center, where a representative from Walker Consultants, a New York City-based parking consultancy, made a presentation and fielded questions from merchants and downtown landlords, Scavone said.
Councilman Erik Yngstrom told redbankgreen that Walker is the leading candidate to get the work after review by the parking committee, which he heads. The committee received eight responses to a Request for Proposals issued in February, though one later dropped out, he said. Walker’s services will cost between $50,000 and $60,000, Yngstrom said.
The study would be the first focused effort in a generation to assess the borough’s parking needs and recommend solutions. The need for fresh data was one platform on which two Democrats — incumbent Councilman Ed Zipprich and his running mate, Michael Ballard — ran their successful election campaign last November.
In 2016 and 2017, the parking committee, then led by Republican Councilman Mike Whelan, advanced plans for possible wholesale redevelopment of the 273-space White Street parking lot, to include hundreds of additional new parking spots as well as housing and commercial uses. But led by Zipprich, Democrats battled the effort as as an attempt to cram “a Jersey City-style high rise in[to] our historic downtown.”
After the Democrats recaptured majority control of the council, the redevelopment effort fizzled. In January, Roger Mumford, one of the two remaining private-sector contenders for the redevelopment rights, withdrew, saying Zipprich had turned the process into a “circus.”
Walker, founded in 1965, claims on its website to have “pioneered the concept of the mega-parking structure at theme parks, airports and international developments, [and] furthered the use of and improved upon the concept of shared parking at mixed-use developments.”
On the consulting side, Walker says it is “one of the first firms to demonstrate how strategic parking planning can help cities and towns promote economic development and improve the quality of life for residents. Walker served as the parking consultant for the first privatization of a municipal parking system and has continued to assist with dozens of public/private partnership projects.”
Yngstrom said last month that the parking committee hoped to pick a consultant in time for the study to begin before the Count Basie Center for the Arts embarks on a two-month construction-related shutdown in July. A Basie spokesman said the theater would not be mounting any shows in July and August to allow for work to upgrade and modernize the stage, though the venue’s box office and other operations will continue as usual.
Yngstrom has previously said he expects the parking analysis to take four or five months.