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RED BANK: CONTRACT, ADMIN JOB ON AGENDA

red-bank-senior-center-031221-1-500x332-2197150More than three years after it was closed by a catastrophic leak, the borough Senior Center is about to get repairs. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot-topic_03-220x138-2130637Red Bank’s council is scheduled to award a contract to repair the Senior Center, and to discuss a possible new search for a borough administrator, when it holds back-to-back workshop and regular meetings Wednesday night.

Here are some highlights from the agendas:

red-bank-darren-mcconnell-012320-500x332-2518111Darren McConnell’s dual role as police chief and interim business administrator is expected to be discussed in the council’s workshop session. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

• The council is expected to vote on resolution awarding the Senior Center repair contract to J&M Quality Contracting, based in Neptune.

The firm’s $1.402 million bid was the lowest of four, edging one by Shorelands Construction by $18,000.

The center, at 80 Shrewsbury Avenue, has been closed for more than three years, since a catastrophic leak of the fire suppression system.

• Also up for approval is a resolution setting pay rates for summer supervisors in the Parks & Rec department.

Among them is Councilman Michael Ballard‘s wife, Rose Sestito, who along with Tiffaney Harris is to be paid the top rate of $19.73, per hour, up from $19.20 for each of the past three summers.

In February, documents came to light in which former Business Administrator Ziad Shehady alleged that a 2019 bump in pay to $19.20 per hour for Sestito had been engineered by Ballard not to “catch anyone’s attention” on the council.

Ballard “categorically, unequivocally and without hesitation” denied the claims, which he termed a “salacious defamatory attack.”

Ballard is one of two Democrats seeking the party’s nomination in the June 7 primary to run for mayor in the November general election, following the local party’s decision to dump Mayor Pasquale Menna after 16 years in office.

• A resolution approving the transfer of the liquor license of the closed Walt Street Pub to Frederick J. Voccola.

The license is to be held in “pocket,” meaning it’s not yet associated with a particular address, as is required before it can be used. (See redbankgreen‘s January article on the sale of the pub.)

• Here’s the full regular agenda. The meeting, conducted via Zoom, will immediately follow a workshop session scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

Among the topics on the workshop agenda is an item identified only as “Borough Administrator Search.”

Police Chief Darren McConnell has been serving as interim administrator for a year, since Shehady resigned. A search for a permanent replacement failed to turn up suitable candidates, and was halted last summer.

Last month, Ballard called for a “restart” of the search, saying “I just think it’s too much in our town” for one person to hold both jobs.

“They’re two of our top full-time jobs, and I think they both need full-time attention,” he said.

The workshop is also expected to include discussion of resolution appointing council members Ballard, Angela Mirandi and Ed Zipprich to an ad hoc committee overseeing the planned third summer/fall season of Broadwalk, the downtown dining plaza that closes upper Broad Street to vehicle traffic.

Membership of the committee was a flash point on the sharply divided all Democratic council at its April 27 session.

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