IN FAIR HAVEN, A HAVEN FOR THE HANDMADE

dave melanie stewart 100913Melanie and Dave Stewart in their new art gallery/retail store, Handmade Haven. Below, t-shirts repurposed as skirts. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

homemade 1 100913The world is awash in mass-produced sameness. Do we really need any more?

A month-old shop on River Road in Fair Haven posits an alternative. Handmade Haven was conceived as an “artisans’ and craftsmens’ retail gallery,” says Melanie Stewart, who owns the business with her husband, Dave.

Everything on its tables and walls is not only handmade, but produced locally, they say.

Think of it as “kind of an Etsy on Main Street,” Melanie tells redbankgreen, referring to the online market for craftspeople and other makers. “We give them a Main Street platform for their work.”

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RED BANK: STEEPLE CRACK SHUTS CHURCH

tower hill 1 103013The 61-year-old steeple, which rises to 128 feet from the ground, has a failing timber inside, a church official says.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

tower hill 2 103013A cracked timber in the steeple has forced the temporary closure of the landmark First Presbyterian Church at Tower Hill in Red Bank.

Borough officials ordered the church and an adjoining school closed Tuesday morning after structural engineers could not rule out a catastrophic collapse of the 70-foot tall steeple, said construction official Stanley Sickels.

“In these situations, you either get to see it before it collapses or after,” he said. “There’s no way of knowing” what might trigger a failure.

The discovery prompted the shutdown of the Tower Hill School, as well as the relocation of Sunday services and community group meetings that serve hundreds of congregants and visitors each week, church property manager Rob Wallman tells redbankgreen. It could also derail a wedding planned for next week.

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MIDDLETOWN: PLAYERS PLAY ON AT LIBRARY

reading roomThe former library, newly rebranded the Navesink Arts Center, is transformed into a spacious reading room and reception area for Monmouth Players productions. Below, Lori Renick (left) co-stars in the current production of Neil Simon’s ‘Brighton Beach Memoirs.’  (Photos by Robert Kern; click to enlarge)

By TOM CHESEK

BrightonBeachIt sits at the relatively quiet corner of Monmouth and Sears Avenues in Middletown Township, on a parcel of land that boasts an ample parking lot and a couple of asphalt tennis courts, a fixture of some hundred years’ standing, in a history-steeped village of Old Stone Churches and Little Red Stores.

And yet, even some longtime residents of the township’s Navesink and Locust neighborhoods might be at a loss to tell you anything about the old Navesink Library.

When Middletown Township Public Library decommissioned its branch locations earlier this year, the library buildings in Lincroft and Port Monmouth were shuttered; their collections and equipment donated, sold or assimilated into the MTPL main branch on New Monmouth Road. Over in Navesink — a tiny one-room facility, with a small but comfortable auditorium in back, that had served as the township’s first library headquarters as far back as 1921 — the books were left to the nonprofit entity that had maintained the historic building for decades, and to the tenant that had called the place home since the 1950s: Monmouth Players.

As the curtain came up on their mind-boggling sixtieth season of productions this fall, the Players found themselves the new stewards of a genuine local landmark — and as theatergoers arrived this past weekend for the opening of Neil Simon’s “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” they entered a venue that’s been reborn and rebranded as the all-new Navesink Arts Center.

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RED BANK: ITALIAN EATERY EYES 28 BROAD

28 broad 070512Last rented by Primas Home Café furnishings, 28 Broad Street is the intended home Patrizia’s, an Italian restaurant. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rcsm2_010508Downtown Red Bank could be getting a sizable new restaurant.

Dubbed Patrizia’s, the family-style eatery would take over the space at 28 Broad Street vacated almost two years ago by Primas Home Café, according a fresh filing with the borough planning department.

Retail Churn also has news about plans for a large greengrocer and 20 homes one block east of Broad Street; a planned relo by a downtown florist; and a seller of high-end used cars revving to come back to town… all after the ‘READ MORE.’

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LITTLE SILVER: FUNDING ARM FOR HOMESTEAD

parker-homestead-2007A nonprofit organization will serve as the fundraising arm for the historic site, which dates back almost 350 years. (Click to enlarge)

By ALEXIS ORLACCHIO

A charitable corporation has been formed to help carry out plans to run Little Silver’s historic Parker Homestead as an educational facility, according to borough officials.

The plan is for a foundation to raise funds to carry out the Parker Homestead mission, said Councilman Dan O’Hern.

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RED BANK: MAN AT WORK

Pierro Eliano 0909913Piero Vescio, general maintenance man at the Galleria at Red Bank for 23 years, repairs wooden a structure on the property in beautiful late-summer weather Monday. (Photo by Sarah Klepner. Click to enlarge)

RUMSON: CHURCH HALVED FOR A TRIPLING

Contractors have sheared away more than half of the original 1886 Holy Cross Church in Rumson as part of a massive remodeling that will boost the number of seats from the present 220 to 648. Architectural renderings of the planned addition may be viewed here. (Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: FAMILIAR FACES AT HAMPTON II

Engineer Rich Kenderian testifies for the hotel developer, above. Below, objector Stephen Mitchell reviewing plans. (Photo by Sarah Klepner. Click to enlarge)

By SARAH KLEPNER

Parking and stormwater emerged as early issues when the second round of hearings for a proposed six-storyRed Bank hotel got underway Monday night.

The 76-room Hampton Inn would be built at the foot of the Route 35 Cooper Bridge, at the northern gateway to town, on the former site of an Exxon gas station. A series of combative hearings on the plan that began in August, 2011 ended nearly a year later with a ruling the structure was too tall.

With zoning rules since amended by the borough council to accommodate the building’s height, the start of round two brought out familiar adversaries – and one new one who, if she was present, did not announce herself or her interest.

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RED BANK: STEEPLE RISING

The cross atop St. James Church in Red Bank Catholic Church is back after six months of rehabilitation. Among other repairs, the replacement of the old cross, which was damaged by a violent wind storm, should be finished by September, said a church business manager Veronica Alexander. (Photos by Dan Natale. Click to enlarge)

SANDY HOOK: GOT ANY IDEAS?

A committee is seeking proposals that might save three dozen structures at Fort Hancock. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By COLBY WILSON

With the future of 36 historic buildings in the Fort Hancock Historic Landmark District at Sandy Hook at stake, an advisory committee is asking the public for ideas for future uses of the properties.

The Fort Hancock 21st Century Advisory Committee, established by the Secretary of the Interior in 2012, met last Friday to discuss a Request for Expression of Interest (RFEI) to assess the possibility of saving deteriorated buildings that overlook the Sandy Hook Bay in the Gateway National Recreation Area.

The RFEI, issued by the National Park Service, invites individuals, government agencies, for profit and not-for-profit organizations to submit ideas for the re-use of the buildings in ways that benefit the community, maintain the serenity of Sandy Hook and preserve its rich history.

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NEIGHBORS OPPOSING RED BANK WALGREEN’S

Melissa Grieves, seated at right, addresses neighbors concerned about the planned redevelopment of the former Rassas car lot, below, into a mega-drugstore.  (Photo by Sarah Klepner. Click to enlarge)

By SARAH KLEPNER

A proposed Walgreen’s drugstore on Broad Street in Red Bank would be a bitter pill, say nearby homeowners, who’ve begun to organize for a fight.

About 30 residents of the quiet neighborhood between Pinckney Road and Rumson Place gathered in a Little Silver backyard over coffee Saturday morning to strategize a response to the proposed mega-pharmacy, at the site of the recently-closed Rassas auto dealership.

“I was stunned and extremely concerned,” organizer Melissa Grieves of Salem Place said in an email to redbankgreen. “As a neighborhood, we are concerned about not only our property values, but also the potential for additional car traffic through our quiet streets, as well as lighting and noise concerns, amongst other issues.”

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RED BANK: STATION PLACE WORK BEGINS

After years of zoning hearings, lawsuits and aborted plans, shovels finally went into the ground last week for what’s now dubbed Station Place, 45 luxury apartments and 12 affordable units at Monmouth, West and Oakland streets in Red Bank.

Formerly to have been called Courtyards at Monmouth, the project is being built by Roger Mumford, who has replaced substandard housing on Bridge Avenue near Drs. James Parker Boulevard with new homes. Mumford tells redbankgreen he expects tenant move-ins at Station Place to begin in July, 2014. (Photos by Dan Natale. Click to enlarge)

SEA BRIGHT: MAINSTAY HELPS CLUB REBUILD

Chubby Marks at the rebuilt Edgewater Cabana Club, above, and working in a construction trailer at the club this winter, below. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Standing beside a freshly installed, jumbo-sized kiddie pool at the newly renovated Edgewater Cabana Club in Sea Bright on a sun-drenched June afternoon, Chubby Marks can barely go a second without being greeted by passersby.

With a seasoned politician’s flair, the 83-year-old beach club manager shakes hands, coos to small children and remembers everyone’s name – without exception.

Samuel “Chubby” Marks has been general manager of Edgewater Cabana Club – formerly Water’s Edge – for 18 years, and the lively, personable 83-year-old Sea Bright mainstay said that he has no plans of slowing down anytime soon after playing a pivotal role in the reopening of the club, which held a ribbon-cutting ceremony this weekend to celebrate its first full week of operation.

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RED BANK: JAMIAN’S OUTDOOR BAR OK’D

Jamian’s plans an open-air bar out back, replacing a garage on Gold Street, below. (Click to enlarge)

By COLBY WILSON

Another open-air bar is set to join the Dublin House‘s Temple Bar and the yet-to-be-built rooftop bar atop Teak on Red Bank’s Monmouth Street.

Jamian’s Food and Drink won borough planning board approval Monday night for a plan to to expand its restaurant and bar operations by adding back-door dining patio with eight tables and an 11-seat bar.

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RED BANK: BASIE COURTYARD TO GET CANOPY

Less than a year after its debut, the Count’s Courtyard, the terrace bar at Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre, is slated for a tweaking Friday with the installation of an over-all canopy.

The canopy, which will have no sides, will only be in use, like the courtyard itself, from May 1 to October 31, Basie CEO Adam Philipson told the borough planning board, which approved the change earlier this month. Use of the courtyard is limited to theater patrons two hours before and after performances and during intermissions. (Click to enlarge)

RUMSON: AUTHORITIES MUM ON VNA CRASH

One passenger was airlifted to a trauma center after the VNA van at right collided with the dump truck, at left. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A passenger injured when a tour van collided with a dump truck in Rumson Thursday is in critical condition, authorities said Friday.

Details about the incident remained undisclosed as authorities withheld the identity of the victim, by name, age, town of residence or gender. The passenger was transported by helicopter to Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune after the crash.

Nine people were in the Visiting Nurse Association van, said First Assistant Prosecutor Rick Incremona of the Monmouth County Prosecutor‘s office, which is investigating. Two incurred minor injuries, he said.

No charges have been filed, said Incremona, who declined to identify the van’s driver.

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RED BANK: ANTIQUE DEALERS ENDURE CHANGE

A working nickelodeon, below, and old seltzer bottles are among the thousands of items that lure shoppers back in time at the Antique Center of Red Bank. Dozens more photos can be seen at redbankgreen‘s Flickr page. (Photo by Alexis Orlacchio. Click to enlarge)

By ALEXIS ORLACCHIO

Looking at it, shoppers at the Antique Center of Red Bank might not guess the glossy oak casing of the 117-year-old Regina Upright Nickelodeon was once caked with numerous layers of paint that had chipped and peeled over its lifetime. Standing near the front of the dimly lit emporium, light gleams off its intricate carvings.

The restored music box again flawlessly performs the task it was built for: insert a nickel into the side slot, and watch a music disc slowly rotate behind a glass pane, producing a melody of delicate chimes. Taped to its window is a small, handwritten note that reads, “Not for sale.”

“It’s too special,” said store owner Guy Johnson, who found the player at a garage sale in Shrewsbury. It had been sitting in the owners’ basement before they decided to sell it, “and thank God they did,” he said.

But while Johnson may have saved the Regina, whether Red Bank’s vaunted antiques district can be saved is an open question. About a year ago, the home of Monmouth Antiques Shoppes, across West Front Street from the Antique Center, was knocked down  to make room for the MW West Side Lofts, a residential and retail project now under construction. That left a huge hole not only in the space it had long occupied, but in an antiques district that vendors have struggled to keep going.

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RED BANK: GRANDVILLE UPGRADES DETAILED

Tenants Sonia Walker, left, and Jennifer Lugo-Walker study the project plans for the 10-story apartment building, below. (Photo above by Sarah Klepner. Click to enlarge)

By SARAH KLEPNER

About 30 residents of Red Bank’s Grandville Towers highrise turned out for a special meeting of the borough Rent Leveling Board Wednesday, anxious about renovation plans and their effect on rents.

Tom Arnone, vice president at he PRC Group, the building’s manager, presented an overview of the the work that – pending RLB approval of rent surcharges – would be done in three phases expected to last a total of about 14 months, starting in September.
Because PRC is still seeking quotes for the work, the surcharges may vary from present estimates, said Arnone, who also serves as a member of the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

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RED BANK: LOOKING GLASSY, 7 BROAD

A plan to remove an exterior staircase and enclose the facade in glass was approved after changes requested by the zoning board.  (Click to enlarge)

By SARAH KLEPNER

Another building on Red Bank’s Broad Street will be getting the glass-front treatment, though with less than originally proposed.

Having raised objections to earlier plans that included a fishbowl scenario of wall-to-wall glass for two bedrooms and a living room in a proposed second-floor residence, the zoning board last week approved several variances for a revised set of plans for 7 Broad Street.

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