By JOHN T. WARD
Two major streets in the heart of downtown Red Bank would be closed to traffic to allow mid-street dining and shopping under action taken by the borough council Wednesday night.
The economic recovery measure needed lightning-fast approval so the business district “can to be ready the second we get the call” from Trenton about expected loosening of COVID-19 restrictions, said Councilwoman Kate Triggiano.
Monmouth Street between Broad Street and Maple Avenue would become a pedestrian plaza all day on Sundays. Below, the council during its online meeting Wednesday night. (2013 Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
The plan calls for Broad Street between West Front and Wallace streets to be closed to vehicular traffic on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.
Monmouth Street between Broad and Maple Avenue would be closed “all day” Sunday, Triggiano said.
Details about table placement, display of goods and more will be announced shortly, she told redbankgreen after the council’s semimonthly meeting, held online.
The all-Democrat governing body voted unanimously to approve the street closings in the form of a resolution that was not listed on the agenda and appeared not to be in printed form.
The action came just hours after the second meeting of an ad hoc committee formed last week to explore creation of pedestrian plazas as a way to enhance the town’s recovery, said Triggiano, who is a member of the group along with other town officials and business representatives.
Swift action on the measure was needed, Triggiano said, because other towns nearby, including Long Branch, were moving to do the same, and “we can’t wait. We want Red Bank to be ready the second we get the call,” she said.
During the public comment portion of the council meeting, Victor Kuo, whose Temple Gourmet Chinese Restaurant lies just outside both closure zones, asked why the Broad Street closure did not extend as far south as Canal Street or Peters Place, as some street fairs do.
Mayor Pasquale Menna responded that the parameters were set under a “consensus decision” that included “lots of deliberation” about public safety considerations, which he did not specify.
“Let’s see how it plays out, and if we have to tweak it, we will,” Menna said of the plan.
Triggiano emphasized that the move is “a first phase,” and that the committee plans to take up issues affecting non-downtown businesses as well.
“But this was really a big chunk of what we need to be addressing,” she said.
Triggiano said the committee had reviewed a suggestion that called for closing down a portion of the English Plaza parking lot, and another for a joint closure of Monmouth and White streets.
But “overall, there was resounding support” for the Broad and Monmouth street closures, she told redbankgreen.
Safety issues were “deeply considered” by the committee, she said, though she deferred questions on ambulance movements and related issues to police Chief Darren McConnell.
Also on the committee’s task list is a review of draft guidance from the New Jersey Division of Alcohol and Beverage Control “that may allow establishments with liquor licenses to extend their premises,” the formation announcement said last week.
No information about the committee’s deliberations on alcohol sales was immediately available.
Last week, the borough rolled out a new quick-pickup parking program that dedicates parking spaces outside clusters of stores and restaurants for five-minute, free parking so customers can pick up pre-ordered food and merchandise.