RED BANK: NEW RIVERCENTER VISION & HQ

scavone menna red bank, nj,RiverCenter executive director Jim Scavone, left, with Mayor Pasquale Menna and Visitors Center executive director Margaret Mass at the office’s opening last week. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank njRed Bank RiverCenter embarked on a new mission last week.

The manager of the town’s special improvement district nailed down a fresh set of priorities that calls for greater emphasis on leveraging the town’s Navesink River waterfront as a draw for visitors and investors.

It also opened its new offices to Broad Street.

Concluding a five-month series of large-scale public and small-group input sessions coordinated by a consultant, RiverCenter officials unveiled a new “vision statement” at a public event at the Two River Theater.

“The consensus was that the riverfront is our most valuable asset, while at the same time it is our currently most underutilized asset,” RiverCenter executive director Jim Scavone told the audience. “So the vision is to reimagine and rebuild the riverfront” so it provides both passive and active activities all along the river, from Marine Park “all the way around” to Oyster Point Hotel, he said.

“The ultimate goal, I think, is to create a space that becomes the center of Red Bank and feeds the downtown community by drawing people into town to utilize and just enjoy the riverfront,” Scavone said.

“We want to make it possible to get from the riverfront really what the town deserves,” Scavone told redbankgreen. “Do we want to get our hands into development? No. But we want to put in place whatever will allow that, in whatever form that means.”

“We would love to finally put in place some sort of riverwalk,” Scavone said. “Obviously, we can’t do that by ourselves, but we would very much want to be a partner in that,” he said.

The document was developed under the guidance of the Pennsylvania Downtown Center, a Harrisburg-based nonprofit that advises downtown promotion agencies. In addition to a “re-imagined and reinvigorated waterfront, the plan calls for spotlighting the borough’s various roles as:

• a regional center for the arts and creativity

• a place for “unique dining and shopping experiences”

• a transit village

• a center for health and wellness

• a center for financial services

The plan is still subject to board approval, Scavone said. If it is approved, industry specific advisory groups, all of which are open to resident as well as merchants, will be put in place “so we have a good solid foundation in working on these objectives” over the next three-to-five years, he said.

The update to the organization’s vision was undertaken at urging of RiverCenter board chairman Steve Catania.. The owner of the Cheese Cave shop on Monmouth Street told redbankgreen earlier this year that too many downtown merchants felt alienated from the organization, to the point that they couldn’t explain its mission.

So did he get was he was hoping for? Yes, so far, he said.

“It’s a process,” he said. “I think we’ve demonstrated that we want to be more open and communicative” with businesses.

As for the vision document, “I think it represents a good blend and balance of what we want to see for Red Bank,” Catania said.

Here’s the pdf presentation.

RiverCenter and the Red Bank Visitors Center, which RiverCenter funds, relocated recently to first-floor offices 140 Broad Street, in the same building as Arthur Murray Dance Studio, after seven years tucked into the second floor of a building on English Plaza.

The move was prompted by a need for greater visibility and easier public access, mostly for the Visitors Center, Scavone said.