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RED BANK: ADAMS QUITS RIVERCENTER HELM

Nancy Adams with RiverCenter vice chairman Tom Fishkin, center, and board secretary Michael Warmington in 2011. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The top job at downtown promotion agency Red Bank RiverCenter is vacant following the abrupt departure of Nancy Adams as executive director Friday.

Adams announced her resignation in an email to redbankgreen, describing her departure as neither a firing nor a forced resignation but as an amicable split with RiverCenter’s board of directors.

“It was a mutual thing,” she said in an interview Saturday. “Overall, I think the board was very happy with what we did to move forward from economic devastation.”

But she cited “ruffled feathers,” scapegoating and what she said was a relatively short lifecycle for heads of state-chartered Special Improvement Districts among her reasons for leaving.

Readie’s Market Café owner Tom Fishkin, one of three board members whose meeting with Adams Friday prompted the resignation, attributed the move to “some creative differences” and a desire for a “fresh start.”

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STOKABOKA, ADAMS IMPORTS GOING UNDER

stokaboka-072811Stokaboka Surf and Skate will likely close its doors for good by the end of the weekend, says owner Mike Boylan. (Photo by Stacie Fanelli. Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

rcsm2_010508An outgoing economic wave is claiming two stores on Monmouth Street in Red Bank: Board and beach outfitter Stokaboka Surf and Skate and Polish stoneware boutique Adams Imports.

Stokaboka, a destination for rail-riders and beach bums, cleared out a majority of its merchandise in this past weekend’s sidewalk sale, and will likely lock the doors by the end of this weekend, owner Mike Boylan tells redbankgreen.

“It’s more of an economy and internet thing,” said Boylan, who operated the store for six years with his wife, Kathleen. “There’s just a lot on the internet I just can’t compete with.”

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MENNA: ‘DARN CLOSE’ TO GARAGE FIX

MennaMayor Pasquale Menna speaks as RiverCenter executive director Nancy Adams looks on.

Through all the reports that things are worse elsewhere and exhortations that merchants find “opportunity” in the current recession, the topic that the 300 or so people who attended Tuesday night’s ‘economic summit‘ on Red Bank’s commercial woes most wanted addressed, apparently, was parking.

Mayor Pasquale Menna came through, first with an announcement that parking at metered spaces would be free on Saturdays and Sundays for the rest of 2009, and then with hints that the parking garage many merchants have clamored for may move back onto the town’s agenda after several years’ absence.

His past opposition to a parking deck at the site of the White Street municipal lot, he says, has always been based on this insistence that it not be paid for by taxpayers, and that it be “self sustaining.”

Now, he says, “I believe we’re pretty darn close to a number of different scenarios which will alleviate those concerns,” he said to applause near the end of the two-hour event at the Count Basie Theatre.

Menna’s comments followed an emphatic “yes” from Jerry Zaro, chief of the state Office of Economic Growth,  when asked if such a garage might qualify for federal or state stimulus funds.

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RIVERCENTER BUDGET Q&A

Rivercenter_sign_2RiverCenter’s office is at 20 Broad Street.

Last week, Red Bank RiverCenter executive director Nancy Adams presented the business-promotion organization’s budget to the borough council. The spending plan, totalling $624,052, is 3.3 percent larger than the 2007 version.

(Alas, RiverCenter doesn’t present its budget with comparative figures from the prior year. So here’s the budget from 2007 Download RiverCenter2007budget.jpg, and here’s the 2008 spending plan Download RiverCenter2008budget.jpg.)

Via email, redbankgreen interviewed Adams about the budget last week. Here’s the exchange:

Your budget for administrative costs this year is up $23,810, or 11 percent, to $232,580. What’s driving that?

A change in staffing. Our Director of Operations has gone to part-time, with appropriate salary cut, and we hired a Program Manager to take over event planning and management, and work with me on marketing, a full time position. Thus the increase.

Does any of that reflect a bump in the executive director’s salary?
LOL, always looking for controversy… No, it does not.

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RIVERCENTER NAMES NEW EXEC DIRECTOR

People_in_the_news

Red Bank RiverCenter’s new executive director is Nancy Adams, a downtown revitalization consultant from Maplewood, who replaces longtime agency head Tricia Rumola.

RiverCenter announced the hire in a press release issued this afternoon.

redbankgreen hasn’t yet heard back from Adams after leaving her a telephone message. But going by her resume, she appears to have extensive experience with special improvement districts, the legislatively authorized taxing authorities charged with revitalizing business districts.

In addition to helping create the Springfield Avenue Partnership SID in her hometown, Adams has also worked with South Orange, West Orange and Newark, a website for her firm, Directions Downtown, says.

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RED BANK: SCAVONE TO LEAVE RIVERCENTER

scavone menna red bank, nj,Jim Scavone, left, with Mayor Pasquale Menna and Visitors Center director Margaret Mass at the opening of RiverCenter’s offices on Broad Street in October, 2018. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Jim Scavone, who led Red Bank RiverCenter for the past six years, is leaving the downtown promotion organization.

He won’t be going far, though: he’s taking a job at Hackensack Meridian Health at Riverview Medical Center, just on the edge of special improvement district he managed.

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RED BANK: SCAVONE TO LEAD RIVERCENTER

Jim Scavone, left, rockin’ promotional sunglasses at a Red Bank Flavour event last month with RiverCenter program director Amanda Lynn, center, and Visitors Center director Margaret Mass. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank RiverCenter kept it local, choosing interim director and borough resident Jim Scavone to lead the downtown promotion agency, the organization announced Tuesday night.

The selection of Scavone, who was RiverCenter’s operations manager prior to the April departure of Nancy Adams as executive director, marks a win for members of the search committee who urged their store-and-restaurant-owning colleagues to stick with in-house talent rather than bring in someone unfamiliar, people involved in the selection process told redbankgreen.

“The best man won,” said Tom Fishkin, RiverCenter’s vice chairman and owner of Readies Fine Foods on Broad Street.

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RED BANK: BAR BOUNCE BOUNCES INTO TOWN

The Dublin House Pub is one of a dozen Red Bank stops on Saturday’s crawl for post-Sandy charities. (Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

With a cold, drab and possibly wet February weekend in the forecast, isn’t time to break out the beach wear?

It is, say the folks at Red Bank RiverCenter, organizers of Saturday’s Red Bank Bar Bounce, a pub crawl that encourages patrons to wear their favorite beach duds as part of a fundraiser for three charities helping to rebuild Hurricane Sandy-shattered Shore towns.

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MENNA DROPS SUPPORT FOR MENU CALORIES

Less than two days after endorsing a nascent plan to require Red Bank restaurants to list calorie totals for menu items, Mayor Pasquale Menna has withdrawn his support.

In a press release issued late Friday afternoon, Menna cited resistance by restaurateurs as the reason he no longer favors the idea.

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COUNCIL NEWS: PARKING, LIBRARIAN, BUDGET

The valet station on Broad Street in October. Under an approval granted by local officials, another will be added outside the soon-to-open Char Steakhouse. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Items from Wednesday night’s meeting of the Red Bank Mayor and Council:

More downtown parking spaces are being set aside for valet service with the anticipated arrival of Char Steakhouse.

The town has a new head librarian.

And the cost of providing health insurance to borough employees is rising, but at a slower pace than last year.

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RED BANK COPS HALT GAS VALVE WORK

An NJNG crew packs it in after being ordered by police to stop work on a nearly completed gas regulator valve replacement on Monmouth Street Friday morning. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The dispute over natural gas valves in downtown Red Bank grew more heated Friday morning, as Mayor Pasquale Menna directed the police chief to pull cops off traffic duty at New Jersey Natural Gas worksites and to order the construction halted.

Menna and downtown business interests, already blowing a gasket over what they have termed the company’s “medieval,” “spiteful” and “arrogant” displays of power, said NJNG has visibly ramped up its efforts to move gas valves from sub-sidewalk pits to above-ground spots adjacent to storefronts. And it is doing so without obtaining necessary construction permits, they said.

Based on that failure, Menna said he consulted with borough Attorney Dan O’Hern before asking police Chief Steve McCarthy to yank officers from site work and to have cops order the workers to pack it in.

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REBRANDED RED BANK TOUTS ITS COOL

RiverCenter unveiled its new marketing campaign Thursday night at the Count Basie Theatre; below, branded squishy balls. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Not that there ever was, literally, but there’s no longer “only one Red Bank.”

The folks who market the borough’s discontinuous business district to shoppers, retailers and developers have scrapped the three-year-old “Only One Red Bank” slogan and replaced it with “a cool little town.”

The fact that there are Red Banks elsewhere – in Tennessee and South Carolina, and even another one in New Jersey – apparently didn’t factor into the decision to make the change. It was just time, said Nancy Adams, executive director of the business-promotion agency Red Bank RiverCenter, which commissioned the new branding.

“We needed a new, fresh reason to get them out there, especially with the economy improving” and competition from the nightlife hotspots of Asbury Park and Long Branch heating up, she told redbankgreen before unveiling the new slogan and associated visuals at the Count Basie Theatre Thursday.

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CONSIGNMENT DEAL MEANS SHORT VACANCY

Greene Street Consignment plans to open its eighth store at 40 Broad Street in Red Bank, former home of Funk and Standard, by mid-September. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

When officials from Greene Street Consignment, a high-end used-clothing shop with seven stores in the greater Philadelphia area, paid her a visit about a month ago, Red Bank RiverCenter executive director Nancy Adams’ immediate reaction, she later said, was, “We’ve gotta get you here. We need retail.”

And with some fast action, Adams helped do just that, in the process heading off what might have been a prolonged and gaping vacancy in the heart of a downtown still struggling to recover.

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TOWN FIRES BACK IN GAS EQUIPMENT SPAT

Gas utility crews have been working downtown this week to replace gas regulators in pits beneath sidewalks without moving them. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Escalating a dispute over who gets to determine where utility equipment can be installed, Red Bank officials threw another obstacle in the way of a New Jersey Natural Gas plan to relocate unsightly gas regulators from beneath downtown sidewalks to above-ground sites.

A pair of ordinance amendments adopted by the borough council Wednesday night would require the utility, and any other developer, to obtain planning or zoning board approval for any installation that “may impact” a sidewalk.

The changes, officials insisted, were aimed at squaring the language of existing ordinances, and do not create any new hurdles. But the move comes amid a pending lawsuit and other actions in a back-and-forth that pits the borough government and business interests against the gas company.

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PARK IT: DOWNTOWN BENCHES GET MAKEOVER

Matt DePonti, below, reinstalls a bench on Broad Street in Red Bank last Friday after it was refurbished by his employer, Powerhouse Signworks. Seven benches that had been broken and held in storage were rebuilt, and all the others refinished, bringing the total downtown to about 40, said Powerhouse owner Jim Bruno.

Red Bank RiverCenter paid for the work, which cost just $1,000, said executive director Nancy Adams. (Click to enlarge)

MENNA: GIVE PARKING WAIVER MORE TIME

A fee moratorium has helped fill vacant spaces downtown, and should remain in effect through the rest of the year, the mayor says. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rcsm2_010508Four months after proclaiming that a waiver on fees for new businesses with parking shortfalls had done its job and should be allowed to expire, Red Bank Mayor Pasquale says he has changed his mind.

Menna led a move at Wednesday night’s borough council meeting to extend the moratorium by six more months, through December 31. The motion passed on a unanimous vote.

“I’m not infallible,” Menna said afterward, when asked about his changed view. “I’ve listened to people who are trying to come in and genuinely improve our business climate.”

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GIRLS (AND, UM, WOMEN) TO OWN THE NIGHT

Hundreds of women are expected to flock to downtown Red Bank for the inaugural GNO Thursday night. (Photo by Danielle Tepper. Click to enlarge)

By DANIELLE TEPPER

Ladies, it’s time to don a pair of fabulous heels and gather up the girlfriends for a night on the town – Red Bank’s first biannual Girls Night Out is here.

Hosted by Red Bank RiverCenter Thursday night, June 7, GNO will offer women the chance to take advantage of shopping discounts, dining and drink specials all over the downtown area. Participation is free.

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RED BANK GAS SPAT MOVES TO STATEHOUSE

Red Bank wants the regulators, below, enclosed beneath sidewalks, like one outside 26 Monmouth Street, above.  (Click to enlarge)

Three months after Red Bank borough and New Jersey Natural Gas publicly clashed over the gas company’s plan to install pressure-regulating valves in front of more than 80 borough businesses, the fight has moved to Trenton.

After a hearing over proposed legislation that would limit the utility’s ability to unilaterally locate emergency venting equipment was postponed Monday, representatives of the two sides aired their cases on the Statehouse steps, the Asbury Park Press reports.

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SO MUCH FOR GRAFFITI-PROOFING

20120515-130611.jpgThe installation of Red Bank RiverCenter’s first new ‘grafitti-proof’ information kiosk on English Plaza isn’t even finished and it’s already had an unauthorized poster pasted over it.

RiverCenter executive director Nancy Adams, who was unaware of the poster, said a notice would be included in the kiosk letting event organizers know their Red Bank events could be advertised inside the glass, and that all other attachments would be removed “just like the countless other stickers and posters we have to take off poles and signs every day.” (Click to enlarge)

RED BANK NAMED 3RD-BEST TOWN IN U.S.

The magazine’s ranking is based on cultural offerings in towns of 25,000 or fewer residents.  (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Smithsonian Magazine calls Red Bank the third-best small town in America in its May issue.

On a list of 20 small towns towns rich in culture, the town came in behind only Great Barrington, Massachusetts and Taos, New Mexico, the magazine reported.

That gives Red Bank bragging rights over places like Princeton (number 12) and Key West, Florida (16) –not to mention the thousands that didn’t make the list.

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WEDDING WALK KICKS UP FOOT TRAFFIC

Models showed off bridal gowns at Sassy Chic Boutique, above, while a passerby did a doubletake at the sight of human mannequin Stephanie Rogers at Barbizon Models during the fourth Wedding Walk in Red Bank Saturday.

Nancy Adams, executive director of event sponsor Red Bank RiverCenter, said the walk attracted about 30 percent more registrants than the March, 2011 edition, with some 600 shoppers thronging the streets in search of dresses, hair styling, DJs, photographers and more wedding-related goods and services. (Click to enlarge)

BASIE TO GET ‘RED CARPET’ STREET CROSSING

Authorities hope the crossing will centralize pedestrian movements to and from the theater on show nights. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank’s long-awaited plan to extend streetscape touches down a neglected stretch of Monmouth Street includes a mid-block crossing at the County Basie Theatre, officials say.

Depending on the cost, the project might also include a reworking of the landscaping across the street from the theater, on borough hall property, into an outdoor seating area for theater patrons and others, they said.

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‘EYESORE’ HAS MAKEOVER APPOINTMENT

The long-vacant former home of Surray Luggage is set for a spruce-up and a new tenant, Salon Conrete. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

It’s months away, but an enduring store vacancy in downtown Red Bank is set to end, redbankgreen has learned.

Hair stylist Salon Concrete has signed to take over half the space at the 5,600-square foot 123-127 Broad Street, salon owner Christine Zilinski confirms.

Meanwhile, there’s also some churn underway at Salon Concrete’s current home, 15 Broad, from which upscale children’s clothier Lavish Kids recently pulled out.

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MENNA: CLOCK TICKING ON PARKING WAIVER

By JOHN T. WARD

A measure to boost business development in downtown Red Bank has had its intended effect and should probably end this summer, Mayor Pasquale Menna tells redbankgreen.

The temporary ordinance repeal, adopted in August, 2010, has helped spark a burst of activity so strong that “we may have a parking deficiency again soon,” Menna said.

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RED BANK PICKS NEW PAY-TO-PARK SYSTEM

A video explaining the multi-space pay technology that will replace single-head meters, like the one below, in the English Plaza lot.  (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

It’s “time expired” for racing to beat a $38 parking ticket in downtown Red Bank, officials said Wednesday night.

Say hello to “multi-space, revenue controlled” parking technology, complete with cellphone interactivity.

Fulfilling a pledge made by Mayor Pasquale Menna two years back, the borough council awarded a contract for a yet-to-be-determined number of pay stations that will, among other wonders, send visitors texts when they’re in danger of being ticketed and allow them to extend their stays from the comfort of a restaurant.

Oh, and for the town? A sweet spike in parking revenue, with an accompanying drop in enforcement and maintenance costs, says an executive at vendor Integrated Technical Systems of Wallingford, Connecticut.

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