CUPOLA NIP-N-TUCK

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For the second time in 15 years, the cupola atop the Molly Pitcher Inn is getting an overhaul.

Because of exposure, “the wood has become so soft that you can actually penetrate it with your finger,” said James P. Barry, president of J.P. Barry Hospitality Inc, which owns the Molly Pitcher and the Oyster Point hotels. “But hey, that’s what happens when you live at the shore, right?”

This time, the cupola will be be replaced with a woodlike plastic material that’s weather-resistant, while the gold-leaf dome will be preserved.

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FROZEN OUT OF THE STACKS

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A partial reopening of the Red Bank Public Library — initially planned for December and then postponed until this month — probably won’t happen at all, library officials say now.

The upshot: library users will have to wait until May or June, when the entire renovation project is completed, to access the facility, said library director Debbie Griffin-Sadel.

The latest holdup: making up for weeks of work lost to the February cold snap, which brought the installation of a new sprinkler system to a halt. For the duration of the delay, a trench exposing a water line between the building and the supply line under West Front Street lay open, as contractors waited for a break in the Arctic freeze to fix a leak.

The trench was has now been refilled, and work has been resumed. But the partial re-opening? “Doesn’t look like it’s going to happen,” said Griffin-Sadel, who called the delays “extremely frustrating.

“We’re hoping not to become the Eastern Branch,” she said, referring to the Monmouth County Library branch in Shrewsbury that has been under reconstruction for almost four years.

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‘RAH-RAH’ ARCHITECTS SET SIGHTS ON PS5

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The ingredients are compelling, to say the least.

There’s a handsome West Side school building built in 1912 with great bones, but nestled in a neighborhood that sorely needs fresh economic and aesthetic blood.

There’s a high-profile architectural firm, one that loves reimagining old buildings in non-traditional ways.

And there are the firm’s two partners, a couple of admitted “Red Bank rah-rahs,” one of then a founding board member and past chairman of RiverCenter.

The mixing has begun.

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

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We’d heard it called “Mrs. Watt’s house” before. But “building dickey?” That one was new.

Last week’s ‘Where‘ generated not only a record number of responses—all of them substantially correct—but some amusing takes on a structure meant to suggest something other than what it really is.

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‘Y’ BUILDING ON WEST SIDE SOLD

A gateway property on Red Bank’s West Side, the administration headquarters of the Community YMCA on Drs. James Parker Boulevard, has been sold, redbankgreen has learned.

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The buyer, PS5 LLC, paid $1.3 million for the longtime public school building, according to Y CEO Gary Laermer.

The transaction involves a prominent structure in a section of Red Bank that is heavily trafficked and in need of some TLC.

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

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It seems we were overdue for a ‘Where’ out of Rumson, because the responses came pouring in on last week’s posting, which, yes, showed a carriage house on Buena Vista Avenue in that borough.

Todd Weidman of Little Silver beat the thundering rush of hooves with his answer.

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LOOSE ENDS 1: A ROOFER’S GREEN ROOF

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We call this entry, and the two just below, ‘Loose Ends,’ because we’re taking a moment as the calendar changes to 2007 to update redbankgreen readers on a couple of stories from our first few months in business.

This one concerns roofer Joe Ruffini and the environmentally friendly ‘green’ roof he started building atop his Maple Avenue house earlier this year.

Well, it’s finished, with a flagstone deck, flower planters, a covered ‘fire pit’ table in the center, and irregularly shaped patches of sod in the four corners.

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

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Garden gnome put out for trash pickup? Street sculpture? Munchkin in a rainproof burka?

Perhaps the arresting figure shown here isn’t such a mystery to you. But where is it? If you know, or think you do, Email your guesses to us, please.

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‘NICE LITTLE BRICK WALL’ VANISHES

One of Red Bank’s architectural treasures fell to the sledgehammer this week when workmen demolished the intricate brick fence at the United Methodist Church on Broad Street.

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The removal of the wall, apparently prompted by an accelerating state of decay, took longtime Red Bankers by surprise.

“I’m thoroughly disgusted,” said George Bowden, chairman of the Red Bank Historic Preservation Commission who had written to a church elder more than a year ago urging the church to preserve the wall, without receiving a formal reply. “It’s a tearing of the historic fabric of the town of Red Bank.”

Mayor Ed McKenna, whose law office is a few doors north of the church, said he was “shocked” to see that the wall had disappeared from one day to the next.

Church officials did not respond to requests for comment by redbankgreen, which happened upon the scene as the wall was being taken down Tuesday afternoon.

By late Wednesday, every scrap of brick and mortar had been removed, leaving only the poured concrete foundation several inches below the surface of the ground.

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BIG SHOE AT GARMANY

Apparently, it’ll take three feet to fill the big empty shoe left behind by Garmany when it vacated the old post office for its current space in the longtime Steinbach’s building last year.

The high-end clothing retailer has submitted a plan to the borough to subdivide its former home into three stores.

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Meanwhile, three years after Garmany announced plans to move out of the building that served as a post office from 1931 to 1965, the rumor mill is still buzzing that Tiffany Inc. is a prospective tenant for the site. But the folks involved in marketing the property for Garmany aren’t talking.

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FAIR HAVEN ARCHITECT INDICTED

An architect and member of the Fair Haven Zoning Board was indicted earlier this week on federal charges of shaking down a contractor for $100,000 in connection with his work in Bayonne.

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Today’s Jersey Journal has the details on the case against Avelino “Al” Sambade.

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SAFER, AND NOT ALWAYS UGLIER

What’s the right balance between security and aesthetics when designing airports, government buildings and skyscrapers in the post-Sept. 11, 2001 era?

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The Chicago Tribune’s architecture writer, Blair Kamin—a son of Fair Haven—takes on this and related questions in a new package of stories called “What Price Security?

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