RED BANK: FIRST WORKSHOP’S A MARATHON

Instead of taking their usual places on the dais, the mayor and council members sat around a large conference table for the meeting. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

The Red Bank council’s first-ever workshop-only meeting proved to be a marathon of matters large and small Wednesday night.

Among the topics discussed at the three-and-a-half-hour session: ways to “deal with the issue” of vehicles parked indefinitely outside the home of an unspecified Bank Street resident, though it was widely understood who that was.

The borough will look into creating four-way stops at two intersections, including Pearl and Oakland streets, above. Below, a tow truck and trailer that neighbors say are rarely if ever moved from the curb outside 90 Bank Street. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

The discussion was one of more than 50 items on the agenda for the session, which included oral reports by department heads.

The addition of the separate workshop sessions to the council’s schedule of two “regular” monthly meetings was made at the urging of Business Administrator Ziad Shehady. In proposing the plan in July, Shehady, who became the town’s top unelected official in May, said the meetings would help him plan 30 to 90 days ahead, and would give elected officials more information about matters to be voted on at regular sessions.

Among the issues discussed:

A possible two-hour parking limit for Bank Street. Shehady and elected officials were careful not to mention William Poku, though the litigious owner of 90 Bank Street was clearly contemplated in the proposal Shehady floated.

“This is just an idea to deal with the issue on Bank Street,” Shehady said, in an obvious reference to Poku’s junk-packed property and vehicles parked out front that neighbors say are never moved. “That’s the street that’s been highlighted on national news,” he said. “We’re trying to address what came up.”

But the idea of a two-hour limit, and of a townwide alternate-side parking law, to deal with dormant vehicles failed to garner sufficient council support to move ahead.

“I think the two-hour limit would cause more grief to the borough” from residents who receive summonses or have visitors to their homes ticketed, said Councilman Mike Whelan.

“You’re going to have a bunch of people with brooms,” said Mayor Pasquale Menna. He also said a townwide alternate-side parking plan would be problematic for residents of narrow streets.

“Sometimes, no government action may be the best option,” said Whelan, who serves as police commissioner.

The need for a new fire truck. Fire Chief Stu Jensen said Engine 96, housed at the Westside Hose Company on Leighton Avenue, is now in its 27th year of service, past its life expectancy was 20 years. He told the council that the purchase of a combination engine and ladder truck would reduce the fire department’s apparatus inventory by one vehicle while balancing fire-protection coverage on the two sides of the North Jersey Coast Line tracks.

•  Irrigation water meters, which are finally available from the public utilities department after years of discussion. These second meters allow homeowners to water their lawns without having to pay the sewer portion of the water bill.

Downtown redevelopment: The council voiced its general consensus in favor of both the creation of a redevelopment agency and the hiring a consultant to get the ball rolling. There’s more detail on the proposal in this redbankgreen post.

The possible creation of four-way traffic stops at two intersections: Pearl and Oakland streets, and South Street and East Bergen Place.

Zoning for medical marijuana dispensaries, should any want to open here.

A possible ban on single-use plastic bags.

A possible ban on smoking in public places.

The public is permitted to comment at workshop sessions, but officials will not answer their questions, Menna said.

In a late-night post on Facebook, Menna said Wednesday’s meeting was “the first exclusive plenary session of its type in the Borough history.”

“The Council discussed a broad range of policy initiatives for every department and the future path of the Borough,” his post continued. “Consensus was achieved and the next council meeting will be evidence of policy initiatives adopted.”

The council plans to hold two workshops in October, without holding one in either September or November. Here’s the schedule:

October 3

October 31

December 5