red bank nj johnny jazz park water stationWhat’s that’s strange object that cropped up recently in Red Bank’s Johnny Jazz Park?

redbankgreen’s What’s Going On Here? has the answer.

red bank nj johnny jazz park water stationThe water station features a hinged dog dish at the base that can be emptied and filled with fresh water without detaching. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

The slender, five-foot-tall object is a water-bottle refilling station, with push-button spout on one narrow side and a doggie water dish on the other built into the base.

On their wider sides are illustrated information panels, in English and Spanish, about birds that can be found locally, including bald eagles and red-winged blackbirds. The graphics were created by Red Bank artists Kate Okeson and Michael Paul Raspanti, working under the umbrella of an education project they call Naturehood Watch.

The device is one of three acquired by the borough, under a push by Environmental Commission, which landed a $10,000 grant for them, officials said.

Borough Business Administrator Ziad Shehady told the council at Wednesday night’s workshop meeting that he was eager to get one installed before winter.

“We wanted to get at least one working so we could ensure there weren’t any issues with them,” he said.

That turned out to be a good move, public utilities director Cliff Keen¬†told the council, “because the instructions were written by someone who’s never installed one” and his department now knows what adjustments it will have to make.

The one in Johnny Jazz Park, at the corner of Shrewsbury Avenue and Drs. James Parker Boulevard, will soon be turned off for the winter to prevent damage from freezing, Keen said. It will be turned back on in the spring, when the two others will go into operation, one near the concession stand at Count Basie Fields, and the other in Riverside Gardens Park, he said.

Another change coming to the park is the installation of digital sign at the corner, replacing the existing message board, Shehady said. It will be used to promote community events and display emergency alerts, meeting-date changes and other news, said Parks & Rec director Charlie Hoffmann.

Messages will be changed from a borough office, obviating the need to have an employee update the board manually, he said.

The existing sign was erected in 2015, when the formerly nameless pocket park was dedicated to the memory of Ralph ‘Johnny Jazz’ Gatta Jr., a lifelong borough resident and grocer whose store on Shrewsbury Avenue doubled as a shrine to great jazz artists, including the borough’s most famous son, William ‘Count’ Basie.

The park will host its annual Christmas tree lighting party, with live music and hot beverages, on Saturday, December 1 at 6 p.m.