626 river rd fair haven njOfficials are negotiating a deal to buy the former Sunoco station site at 626 River Road, marked with the star above. (Image by Google. Click to enlarge.)


hot topic red bank njFair Haven residents are slated to get their first look Thursday night at a plan for a possible new borough hall and police station.

Here’s what to expect.

fair haven sunoco borough hallA view of the proposed borough hall site, looking west on River Road. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

Announced in October, the ambitious, multi-site plan calls for the consolidation of  police and other departments into a new three-story building on the site of the former Sunoco station on River Road.

The proposal also anticipates the sale of vacant borough land adjoining the public works facility on Allen Street, which is expected to yield 10 buildable residential lots, and eventually, the consolidation of the community center and the library at the existing town hall, at 748 River Road.

• The meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Knollwood School, will serve as a curtain-raiser on a concept plan for the new building at the Sunoco site.

Mayor Ben Lucarelli told redbankgreen that architect Eli Goldstein, whose portfolio includes a recent borough hall expansion in Atlantic Highlands, will display the concept in the form of a powerpoint display and discuss “how it will fit into the neighborhood.”

Goldstein will also talk about “the process we’ve gone through to date and the process going forward,” Lucarelli said.

The audience will be able to ask questions about and comment on the plan. The meeting is a special session of the borough council, but no official action will be taken, Lucarelli said.

• Lucarelli said the borough is in talks with the development firm that tried to turn the gas station into a drive-thru bank two years ago.

The station, at the corner of Cedar Avenue, closed in December, 2011, and the lot has been vacant ever since. In 2016, M&M Realty Partners of Piscataway had a contract to purchase the site, develop it and lease it to Investors Savings Bank. But that plan was dropped following objections by the planning board and neighbors over traffic flow and design issues.

A contract would be contingent on council approval, Lucarelli said. Previously, he said the town could use eminent domain to acquire the three-quarter-acre site.

• Part of the initial borough plan called for about 2,000 square feet of construction at the Fair Haven Natural Area to house lawn-maintenance and related equipment. But after discussions with the advisory committee for the nature area, that idea has been scratched, Lucarelli said.

Committee members “were staunchly opposed” to any development on the 77-acre property, “and we respect that,” he said.

• Lucarelli said the costs of the project won’t be up for discussion Thursday. “We’re still in preliminary design,” he said.

He reiterated his belief, though, that the sale of the Fisk Street lots will help pay for the plan.