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RED BANK: COUNCIL BORROWS FOR COUNT BASIE, MARINE PARK & MORE

 

By BRIAN DONOHUE

“Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.”

Again and again, seven straight “yes” votes sounded out as the Red Bank Mayor and Council approved a host of big ticket items with unanimous votes on eight ordinances Thursday night.

For a Red Bank politics newbie, it might seem like boring snoozefest. For anyone who has followed the toxicity and tumultuousness at 90 Monmouth Street in recent years, however, the display of unanimity was remarkable.

The council voted to pay for an upgrade to the Count Basie field home side bleachers.(Photo by Brian Donohue. Click to enlarge.)

Deputy Mayor Kate Triggiano, who often met frustration in battles with rival council members over even the smallest matters before the opposition were swept out of office a year ago, seemed almost amazed at the breezy passage of several items that had been stalled for years.

“We just did Shrewsbury Avenue and Marine Park,’’ she said after bonding measures for  projects at those two locations were approved. “This is an amazing meeting.”

Without as much as a whiff of a “no” vote, the council approved separate ordinances that:

  •  Bans the parking of any vehicle or trailer that weighs more than 10,000 pounds on borough streets from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. 
  • Authorizes the issuance of $723,000 in bonds to pay for the replacement of the 1930’s era bleachers and press box at Count Basie Fields. The borough is hoping to pay for the rest of the $1.1 million project with a grant it has applied for from the state Green Acres program
  • Borrows $200,000 to pay for streetscape improvements along Shrewsbury Avenue. The money would be augmented by $1.7 million grant from the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, according to the ordinance. The project calls for the installation of traffic-calming bump-outs and flashing signals to make crossing the notoriously challenging stretch of roadway safer for pedestrians.
  • Authorizes $1.4 million in bonds for street repairs to “all or portions of Harrison Avenue, Linden Place, Chestnut Street, Bridge Road, James Parker Boulevard, River Street, Bodman Place, Allen Place, Hubbard Park, Alston Court, and Boat Club Road.  
  • Authorizes $4 million in bonds, plus a $200,000 down payment, for the first stage of a long-planned remake of Marine Park.

red-bank-marine-park-concept-030719-500x253-7073701

A drawing of the slated redesign of Marine Park. 

The only smidge of dissent came in the form of questions from the public on several matters.

Several residents of the Spring Street neighborhood suggested the parking ordinance’s 10,000 pound weight limit would not fix the problem caused largely by vans and mid sized trucks below that weight blocking sight lines for other drivers and pedestrians. 

Spring Street resident Kathy Grimsgaard called the situation with trucks and vans blocking views of  drivers and pedestrians “scary.”

“The trucks are parked right there, you can’t get in you can’t get out, and people swerve,” Grimsgaard said. “The street’s not big enough. It’s really not. Something’s going to happen there.”

Donald Ellis of Highland Avenue said the new law would fail to get off the streets the tall vans and mid sized pickups that create the majority of the problems.

He suggested the ban be expanded to include vehicles in the federal 2b class, which covers vehicles over 8,500 lbs. 

Borough Attorney Greg Cannon called the suggestion “good” and said it had been considered in meetings between borough and police officials.

But he, as well as Mayor Billy Portman and Triggiano, said they were taking an unusual “incremental” approach in the crackdown on parking problems in town to avoid being too restrictive and having to backtrack.

“This is an ongoing process,” said Cannon. “We might do an ordinance like this every six months as the police report back to us, to be honest.”

 

Trucks parked along Spring Street, a source of complaints that sparked the new parking ordinance. 

The bond ordinance to pay for new bleachers at Count Basie Fields also drew questions from members of the public. 

Red Bank Borough Schools Board of Education member Sue Viscomi questioned the scale of the bleachers project, asking “Did anyone think about brining it back and making it not so grandiose?”

Viscomi’s question echoed concerns voiced by several residents in an online survey conducted by the borough on the project earlier this year. Survey respondents repeatedly said other entities that draw large crowds to their events, including Red Bank Catholic High School, should be asked to contribute more towards the project.

Mayor Billy Portman however, said in the long term, maintaining a 2,000 seat grandstand could allow events and other programming that could bring in revenue for the town to help cover costs. The prospect of the state Green Acres grant, he said, takes a sizable load off local taxpayers shoulders to get it done now.

“It’s a good deal for us,” he said. “And I’m thinking for the future, it’s not a bad thing for the town to have a state of the art football stadium.”

The council also tabled a motion to adopt a new rules and regulations for the police department.

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