red bank broad street 032720
red bank monmouth streetWith the first of two pedestrian plazas set to debut in downtown Red Bank Thursday under a dicey weather forecast, the question arises: what happens if it rains?

Answer: Broad Street and Monmouth Street will remain closed to vehicular traffic, unless an emergency arises or severe weather threatens, according to borough Business Administrator Ziad Shehady.

Otherwise, merchants who want to brave the weather or wait out a passing storm are free to continue or resume operating in the street, Shehady said.

“It’s up to the businesses to determine if they want to go ahead,” he told redbankgreen Thursday. “It’s the summer in New Jersey. You might get one hour of rain, and then it clears up.”

Slated to go into effect Thursday afternoon under the borough’s “Temporary Outdoor Business Extension” program, Broad Street between West Front and Wallace streets is to become a pedestrian dining and shopping plaza from 3 p.m to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday evenings until further notice.

Monmouth Street between Broad and Maple Avenue would be closed all day Sunday for the same purpose.

The program’s debut comes as the National Weather Service is forecasting a 30-percent chance of showers or thunderstorms, “mainly before 4 p.m.” Thursday.

The street shutdowns were recommended by an ad hoc committee formed by Mayor Pasquale Menna to explore ways to help merchants recover from the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns of the past three months.

Committee member Laura Kirkpatrick, executive director at Red Bank RiverCenter, said the group “recommended the closure of the streets independent of the weather forecast.

“Over the four days (Thurs to Sunday), there are likely to be many hours and opportunities for people to be outside and walk Red Bank streets while social distancing and abiding by public health recommendations,” she said via email. “Closing the streets to vehicle traffic gives our businesses the opportunity to be flexible and expand on sidewalks and streets while in conformance with Executive Orders and in concert with the weather.”

Shehady said “the only exception that would cause us to revisit that decision with the OEM Coordinator, Police Chief, Public Works Director and RiverCenter is if there was a very clear forecast of severe inclement weather by the National Weather Service for safety reasons (for example, 90% chance of high winds & thunderstorms over multiple days, hurricane, etc.)”

(Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

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