RED BANK ART WALK GETS BACK ON ITS FEET

Works by Kathy Polenberg, above, and other local artists are showcased as part of the rejuvenated Red Bank Art Walk event on Friday.  

It looked for a while as if it might never regain its footing — but after sitting out the past couple of years, the Red Bank Art Walk makes its return this Friday, hot on the heels of the borough’s selection (by Smithsonian Magazine) as one of the top three Best Small Towns in the USA for culture and quality of life.

A three-hour, self-guided tour through the downtown Green and points west, the Art Walk is both rejuvenated and reconfigured in its 2012 incarnation, with a new cast of participants joined by several “non-traditional spaces” where Art Happens, from restaurants and retail stores to at least one transformed place of worship.

Going on between the hours of 6pm and 9pm, this first in a projected new series of events is being spearheaded by a relatively recent arrival to town — Gallery U and Boutique, the rather Unique and Unorthodox artspace that opened its doors at 80 Broad Street last year.

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WEEKEND: PINKHATSYARDSALEFOODFEST

Red Bank becomes a bargainhunter’s paradise on Saturday. On Sunday: food, acres of food. (Click to enlarge)

As the headline suggests, the weekend that awaits is jammed with the potential for good times.

We’ve got the fifth Red Bank Townwide Yard Sale, this one making a migration from fall to spring.

We’ve got one of the inaugural events of this year’s weeklong Paint the Town Pink festivities to raise awareness about breast cancer and the importance of early detection.

And capping it all off, rain or shine, is the first-ever Red Bank International Flavour Fest, an outdoor celebration of the wide variety of cuisines available year-round at Red Bank restaurants.

And Mother Nature appears to be in a mood to cooperate.

Details, as they used to say when that was still a two-syllable word, are just below.

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ANTIQUES GALLERY FACES WRECKING BALL

With dealers scattering to new locations, redbankgreen took a final spin through the Monmouth Antique Shoppes Tuesday. (Click embiggen symbol to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The building appears to sigh and lean, as though aware of its fate. Inside, nooks and corners that once teemed with the cast-offs of the decades have begun to empty out.

It’s a sad time at Monmouth Antique Shoppes, one of the anchors of Red Bank’s vaunted Arts & Antiques District. Eviction notice in hand, owner John Gribbin has informed his 23 remaining dealers that they, like he, must be out by the end of the month, ending a 29-year run.

“It’s not the best time for me to talk,” Gribbin told redbankgreen Tuesday, as he had also last week. “I’m trying to find a home for me and my dealers, and it’s not easy going.”

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RED BANK: FOODIE TREK AROUND THE WORLD

Like the past two autumn Oysterfests, Red Bank Flavour’s new International Flavour Fest on Sunday will bulge at the belt line of the White Street parking lot. (Click to enlarge)

It’s panning out to be a busy spring for Red Bank Flavour.

The promotional partnership of borough-based bistros, bars, boites, bakeries, breakfast nooks, banquet halls and better take-out vendors heralded the turn of the season with the return of the Dine Downtown campaign in March. Then in April, the culinary alliance presented a special Broadway in Red Bank showcase that reinforced the notion of the town as dinner-and-show destination.

On Sunday, the Flavour pack joins with Red Bank RiverCenter and a host of local and corporate sponsors for an event with a broader, even global, reach: the first annual Red Bank International Flavour Festival.

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ON-TIME BRIDGE REOPENING EXPECTED

One leaf of the two-leaf bascule has remained open to allow for boat traffic to pass beneath the bridge. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

For six months, Salt Creek Grille owner Steve Bidgood has watched with guarded optimism the progress of work to replace the 100-foot-long bascule on the Oceanic Bridge over the Navesink River.

Denied since October the benefit of traffic the 72-year-old bridge was built to carry between Middletown and his side, Rumson, Bidgood’s foremost concern has been that the job wrap up, as advertised, by the start of the busy summer season – Memorial Day weekend.

“I’d love to see them do it,” Bidgood told redbankgreen this week, eyeing the elegant bridge framed by the restaurant’s windows. “If they do, I might even buy them dinner.”

It’s looking as though Bidgood will need to reserve a large table.

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DOWNTOWN RED BANK COMES OFF THE ROPES

The recent opening of Lucki Clover, above, in a Broad Street space vacated last September, is seen as one of many indicators of a strengthening comeback.  (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rcsm2_010508Without question, the losses have been significant.

Over the past six months, as the global, national and regional economies have struggled to emerge from the wreckage of the 2008 credit meltdown, Red Bank’s retail market has continued to absorb hard-to-shake-off business departures.

Primas Home Cafe. Willy’s Cheesesteaks. Soapmarket. Later this month, Surray Luggage, a Broad Street fixture, will hold a liquidation sale.

But more so than in the recent past, the downtown real estate market has been marked by two noteworthy trends: faster refilling of storefronts, and the end of several key, longtime vacancies.

What’s it all add up to? In a word, recovery, says at least one downtown Churn watcher.

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PED/BIKE RAMP PLANNED FOR NEW BRIDGE

Monmouth County Engineer Joe Ettore traces the path of the planned walkway, which continues off the proposed new bridge (in yellow) and up a series of ramps along the the west side of the rail line to Shrewsbury Avenue. Below, an elevation rendering of the bridge.  (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Monmouth County officials say they have solved the daunting sidewalk-to-nowhere conundrum they faced in designing a new bridge to connect Red Bank and Middletown at West Front Street.

The fix? Create a walk-and-bike path that will bypass the narrow rail trestle on the Red Bank side, Monmouth County Engineer Joe Ettore said Wednesday.

In what was billed as a preview of a fuller public presentation to come in the spring, Monmouth County Engineer Joe Ettore told Red Bank’s mayor and council that the revised plan for the new Hubbards Bridge also calls for a construction timetable that will detour traffic around the span for just three or four months of the projected 18-to-24-month buildout.

And when it’s all done, the borough will end up with a new parcel of green space overlooking the upper Navesink River, he said.

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PARKER HOMESTEAD GETS HISTORIC SEAL

The Parker house stands at an entrance to what is now the Sickles Market and remnants of the original working farm on Rumson Road. (Click to enlarge)

Five months after securing state Register of Historic Places status, Little Silver’s 347-year-old Parker Homestead has been added to that list’s national counterpart, the Asbury Park Press reports Thursday.

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SEA BRIGHT TO SHARE IN MILLIONS FOR SAND

Federal money will be used to replenish beaches in Sea Bright and Monmouth Beach. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Sea Bright is in for some sand to replenish oceanfront beaches torn into by Hurricane Irene last August.

Congressman Frank Pallone of Long Branch announced Wednesday that the borough, along with neighboring Monmouth Beach, would share in $12.3 million worth of federal funding for sand replacement.

The work, to be 75-percent paid for by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is expected to begin in the fall, Pallone said in a press release.

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SICKLES PLANS FOODIE JUNKET TO SICILY


By JOHN T. WARD

After more than 350 years of rather quiet contentment in Little Silver, Sickles Market is taking it to the old country.

The market, whose roots on the same Rumson Road property date back to a farm started in 1660, is organizing an October tour of gardens, cheese-making shops, olive pressers and other artisanal food producers on the Italian island.

For $6,000 per person, up to 12 travelers will get to indulge in “an exclusive insider’s culinary and cultural view of Italy,” says says Kirsty Dougherty, who was hired recently as Sickles’ director of tourism training..

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HOTEL HEARING DELAYED ANOTHER MONTH

By JOHN T. WARD

Planning board testimony about a proposed 72-room hotel at the foot of Cooper Bridge in Red Bank was put off until mid-January Monday night after a lawyer for an objector raised a question about the structure’s height.

Ron Gasiorowski, representing Stephen Mitchell, says a borough ordinance limits the hotel to 50 feet, whereas the proposed Hampton Inn is 30 feet higher than that.

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RED BANK PUTS PARKING DECK IN GEAR

white-st-lot-102011The White Street lot is an “underutilized” asset and needs a garage, says Mayor Pasquale Menna. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot-topic rightA year after reopening of one of Red Bank’s most controversial questions – whether to build a parking garage in the heart of downtown – Mayor Pasquale Menna is planning to throw things into gear next year.

Menna tells redbankgreen that he plans to appoint up to three professionals with expertise in redevelopment – a lawyer, a planner and an architect – to give town officials guidance on the ins and outs of getting a parking deck built on the site of the White Street municipal lot.

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SEVEN-MONTH DETOUR STARTS MONDAY

oceanic-bridge-091911The Oceanic Bridge will get a new drawbridge, replacing a 72-year-old segment that’s heavily corroded, officials say. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Work to replace the steel drawbridge portion of the Oceanic Bridge is slated to get underway Monday with detours that are expected to frustrate motorists from Middletown and Rumson for seven months.

Monmouth County officials say they hope to complete the replacement of the two-leaf bascule center of the 2,700-foot-long span – the county’s longest – by Memorial Day next year.

In the interim, however, the bridge will be closed. Off limits. Out of commission.

For some motorists, that will mean miles-long detours to the nearest waterway crossings at the Cooper Bridge  between Middletown and Red Bank; the Rumson-Sea Bright Bridge; and the new Captain Joe Azzolina Bridge between Highlands and Sea Bright.

And for owners of businesses that rely on bridge traffic, it’s expected to hit the cash register.

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REPORT OF SEXUAL ASSAULT AT SANDY HOOK

sh-search-100911A police car searched for a suspect near the entrance to Gateway National Recreation Area at Sandy Hook shortly before 9 p.m. Sunday night after a report of a sexual assault on or near Gunnison Beach several hours earlier. No further information was immediately available. (Click to enlarge)

TABLE UNDER THE STREETLIGHT, PLEASE

With a plethora of restaurants, Red Bank is a diner’s delight year-round. But in summer, it takes on a casual and unhurried demeanor as the doors are thrown open and tables moved outside. And when the food and the company are right, the sunset, stars and passersby become part of a magical milieu.

In her swan song for the summer, redbankgreen photo intern Stacie Fanelli serves up an enticing appetizer of open-air dining pix taken around town over the past two months.

Bon appetit.

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YOUNG SHOPPERS PRIME DOWNTOWN PUMP

shoppers-3Is it just us, or are more young people shopping in downtown Red Bank than in recent years? Below, Leanne Navarette of Backward Glances. (Click to enlarge)

By MOLLY MULSHINE

leanne-nAutumn Byrd, 14, may not have a driver’s license, but the Colts Neck resident  still finds a way to shop, eat and hang out in Red Bank whenever she can.

“My daughter is always like, ‘Let’s go to Red Bank, let’s go to Urban Outfitters, let’s go to Funk & Standard,'” Autumn’s dad, Avery Byrd, said as he paid for a purchase at Backward Glances recently.

Autumn eschews the mall in favor of Red Bank because of the town’s artsy feel, she said. “A lot of the styles I’m into, I can find here,” she said. “And I feel safe in this town.”

If any trend is apparent in downtown Red Bank this summer, it’s the return of teens and young adults, lured to modest-priced clothing stores and eateries, including relative newcomers Urban Outfitters, women’s clothing boutique Dor L’Dor and Mexi-Cali chow purveyor Surf Taco, as well as staples like Funk and Standard.

Merchants see the influx of teens as a rebuke to the idea that the town is becoming too upmarket and squeezing out younger shoppers and others with moderate incomes.

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LOFTS PLAN RETURNS, TRIMMED A SMIDGEN

antiquesThe proposed West Side Lofts development, at the corner of West Front Street and Bridge Avenue, is again moving forward. Below, architectural drawings. (Photos by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

west-side-lofts-sketchDevelopers are blowing the dust off an ambitious plan that would bring retail, residential units and a popular brewery to the Red Bank’s antiques district.

Known as West Side Lofts, the multi-use project has been downsized a bit and resubmitted to the borough’s planning and zoning office for approval.

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KABOOMERS TOUT RETURN TO ‘FAMILY’ SHOW

kaboom-wfront-2010Spectators watching the  2010 fireworks from outside the Red Bank Public Library. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The weekend extravaganza that is Kaboomfest kicks off Friday night, a three-day indulgence on the banks of our beautiful Navesink that includes rides, amusements, live music and one breathtaking pyrotechnics show that qualifies as one of the country’s largest.

There’s a lot to soak in of the borough’s lauded tradition, from parking to security, to where to catch the show and how to beat out after it’s done.

Your friends at redbankgreen have got you covered, and the articles below touch on all the facets of the show. Below is a shrunken version of those stories, providing a snapshot of what this weekend is all about.

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RIVERCENTER PLANS DOWNTOWN KIOSKS

rivercenter-sandwichRiverCenter’s first kiosk is slated for installation in English Plaza to let visitors know its new location. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Not that it was so easy to find when it was sequestered in a second-story space above Broad Street, but with Red Bank RiverCenter‘s move three months ago, the agency compromised what little visibility it had, taking up residence in an all-but-hidden office in English Plaza.

And if you’re a tourist looking for the Red Bank Visitors Center, which shares space with RiverCenter, well, good luck trying to find it.

But the move presented a fresh reason for RiverCenter, which promotes the downtown and portions of the West Side businesses, to put into action an idea executive director Nancy Adams has harbored since she stepped into her role more than three years ago, she said.

On Wednesday night, Adams presented the borough council with a plan to install information kiosks in English Plaza to alert visitors to the new RiverCenter and the Visitors Center digs.

It would be the first of a handful of kiosks downtown to offer maps and pertinent borough info to people coming into town, Adams said.

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GOOD TASTE IS A TROLLEY HOP AWAY

Toeknee Bianchi created this video document of the 2010 Taste of Sea Bright tour, which returns Saturday.

Think of it as a buffet — a great, big, sumptuous, surprising, eclectic, indoor/outdoor, three-mile-long buffet. The kind where you need a trolley to get from one end to the other.

When the event known as Taste of Sea Bright returns for the latest in a successful series of culinary tours on Saturday,  it will serve as a reminder that Monmouth County’s most stylishly slender borough knows how to eat very well indeed — and that, in the words of Sea Bright Business Alliance director Joan Osgoodby, “this town is not just a summer romance.”

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KABOOM GETS A BOOST FROM THE BANK

kaboom-presserKaboom! Executive Director Charles Moran, right, looks on as Brenda Ross-Dulan of Wells Fargo announces the bank’s donation to the fireworks show. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Red Bank’s annual fireworks extravaganza got some serious firepower Friday.

Wells Fargo bank, which recently moved into Broad Street and has become ubiquitous since taking over Wachovia bank, has made the biggest contribution to Kaboom! Fireworks on the Navesink in the event’s history.

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POPPING OFF AT MAPLE COVE

Red Bank’s KaBoomFest kicked off its 2011 fundraising season Thursday night with a tent party on the lawn of Hovnanian Enterprises’ HQ, followed by a sample pyrotechnics show on the Navesink by Garden State Fireworks, which will once again be handling the big show on July 3.

To enlarge the photo display, start it, then click the embiggen symbol in the lower right corner. To return to redbankgreen, hit your escape key.