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RED BANK: MARINE PARK REMAKE BEGINS

 

Workers with Precise Construction of Freehold begin removing old fences at the decrepit clay tennis courts in Marine Park. (Photo by Brian Donohue. Click to enlarge.)

By BRIAN DONOHUE

Nearly 12 years after Hurricane Sandy sent waves of water across the clay tennis courts on the site, construction workers began this week turning the northwest corner of Marine Park into the park’s new parking area.

The appearance of work crews and backhoes marks the first step in phase one of the Marine Park improvement project, which also includes transforming the existing parking lot along the water’s edge into a broad lawn suitable for barefoot frolicking and planned events.

The parking lot, soon to be grassed over, and the 2019 schematic for the Marine Park project below. (Photo by Brian Donohue. Click to enlarge.)

The $4 million project reverses an illogical yet longstanding feature of the Red Bank landscape that might make Joni Mitchell sing or Robert Moses proud: the use of perhaps the town’s most breezy and scenic waterfront parcel for the storage of cars.

The borough in April awarded an $887,925 contract to the lowest of six bidders, Precise Construction Corporation of Freehold to build the new parking lot.

But the imminent work recently prompted concerns from planning board member Lou DiMento, who last month questioned the borough council about the fate of several dozen trees in the park once the bulldozers move in.

DiMento noted that the existing schematic in the 2019 final concept plan for the project indicates all but six trees in the park will be removed.

“So there’s six that will remain, out of almost 40 trees,” he said.  “That worries me.”

DiMento specifically asked about larger oaks and trees which shade the existing playground and the hill in the back of the park, most of which seem to be slated for removal in the five-year-old diagram.

“I’m wondering if you are going to stick closely to that concept or if you’re going to have another detailed plan coming out,” he said.

Borough Manager Jim Gant said “the goal is to not remove all the trees in Marine Park at all.” And Mayor Billy Portman said in the first phase of the project the only trees that will be removed are the ones on the island in the existing parking lot, which DiMento himself noted are “mostly dying.”

Specific plans for phase two of the project, which include the playground area and hill, have not been drawn up, Portman emphasized.

“We have plenty of time to further look at the trees,” he said. “We hopefully will be fitting the playground which is designated for that area, within and around whatever trees are there.”

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