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Entries from the Red Bank police logs from June 13 to June 27. Items are unedited.

Theft reported on 6-13-08 which occurred at River St. between the dates of 6-4-08 and 6-5-08 a lap top computer was stolen from one of the rooms. Ptl. Jorge Torres.

Criminal Mischief occurring on 6-14-08 at West Sunset Ave. Victim reported that a group of juveniles were throwing rocks at him while on a motorcycle driving down the street. Rocks did damage the engine and bottom of gas tank. Ptl. Gary Watson, Jr.

Theft occurring on 6-14-08 at Monmouth St. Three male subjects left the establishment without paying for their food order. Ptl. John Camarca.

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From the police log, May 30 to June 6. Entries are unedited.


Theft occurring at Leighton Ave. on 6-1-08. Victim reported that while unloading trays of food from vehicle and carrying them into the house, four juvenile subject(s) unknown stole one tray of food and fled. Ptl. Beau Broadley.

Criminal Mischief reported on 6-3-08 in the area of Peters Place. Report of a school bus being damaged by unknown person(s), front windshield was smashed by throwing rocks. Ptl. David Smith.

Theft occurring on 6-3-08 at Chestnut Street parking lot. Victim reported that the driver’s side left window on parked vehicle had been broken by unknown person(s). Stolen from vehicle was a GPS unit, make Magellan. Ptl. James DePonte.

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Img_8646Councilwoman Grace Cangemi says residents should have warnings before nearby hydrants are flushed, resulting in discolored water flowing through taps.

Some highlights from last night’s bimonthly meeting of the Red Bank council:

TEACHERS OF THE YEAR: In addition to primary school teacher Pat Moss, who was spotlighted here yesterday, this year’s honorees were middle school third-grade teacher Stacy Curcio; third-grade teacher Matt Strippoli of the Red Bank Charter School, and social studies teacher (and Red Bank native) Steve Johnson of Red Bank Regional.

AUDIT: Independent auditor Dave Kaplan gave his annual assessment of the borough’s finances and record-keeping, both of which he finds in good shape, though with four “relatively minor” cautions, one of which centers on the timely approval of council minutes. (Until last night, the borough clerk’s office was more than a year behind in getting the minutes of meetings together; now, the most recent minutes approved are from the July 9, 2007 session.)

Kaplan noted also that tax collections last year slipped a tad, to 97.09 percent from 97.99 percent, which he attributed to economic conditions. “People are just a little slower in paying their taxes,” he said.

BOATS AND CARS: There was a discussion of a request regarding parking on Union Street from the Monmouth Boat Club. As is somewhat common at council meetings, the agenda gave no hint of what the boat club had asked for, and nobody on the council bothered to fill the audience in, but it seemed to involve the removal of or deactivation of parking meters.

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Entries in the borough police logs from May 16 to May 23. Items are unedited.


Criminal Mischief occurring at Catherine St. on 5-16-08—Victim reported that unknown person(s) shattered car window. Ptl. Gary Watson.

Criminal Mischief occurring at West Sunset Residence between 5-17-08 and 5-18-08. Victim reported that unknown person(s) entered unoccupied residence and threw paint on walls and floors of upstairs bedroom. Ptl. Paul Perez.

Criminal Mischief occurring on 5-18-08 at Water Street business. Owner reported that unknown subject(s) shattered front door window to the business. Ptl. Robert Kennedy.

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Lewisblack1Hold onto your lederhosen, Little Kraut: Lewis Black darkens the stage for two nights this week in the latest of a string of sold-out shows at the Count Basie Theatre.


You would think this was a sweet point in time to be Lewis Black.

The gravel-voiced gadfly — already a household name thanks to his “Back in Black” vignettes on The Daily Show — has much to hype this season. His new weekly TV show Lewis Black’s Root of All Evil just made its debut on Comedy Central. A forthcoming book, Me of Little Faith, is poised to blow the lid off this organized-religion thing. And he continues to sell out venues across the USA with his own Black-label blend of vein-popping vitriol.


So why, then, is Lewis Black not smiling? Why does “the most indignant, exasperated man in America” continue to rant, rave and rail against the many real and/or imagined indignities, hypocrisies and stupidities of modern American life?

Because we wouldn’t have it any other way — and when the Yale-educated social activist slash leather-jacketed curmudgeon takes to the soapbox with his high-decibel, slightly Tourettes-inflected stand-up act, there’s no finer music.

Having consistently filled the house in recent years, Black and his longtime opening act John Bowman return to the boards of the Count Basie Theatre for not just one but two sold-out shows, tomorrow and Wednesday night. If past Basie gigs are any indicator, Black will tweak topics both global (wars on terror, prez-candidates in peril and public figures in spectacular freefall) and strictly local (both comics have been known to have some fun with the name of Red Bank’s landmark restaurant The Little Kraut) — with a salvo of bunker-busting F-bombs and all the surgical delicacy of a pair of explosive-charge bolt cutters.

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The following are entries in the Red Bank police logs from March 14 through March 20. The information is supplied by the police department and is both unverified and unedited.

Theft occurring on East Newman Springs Rd. on 3-14-08. Victim reported that while in a parking lot she left her wallet in shopping cart, left the area and upon returning the wallet had been stolen. Contained in wallet were cash and credit cards. Ptl. James DePonte.

Theft occurring at Spring St. residence between 3-13-08 and 3-14-08. Victim reported that unknown person(s) stole two solar light posts off of front porch. Det. Robert Clayton.

Criminal Mischief occurring on 3-15-08 at Spring St. parking lot. Victim reported that unknown subject(s) flattened all four tires on parked vehicle and also keyed vehicle around the entire perimeter of vehicle. Ptl. David Smith.

Theft occurring at Spring St. on 3-15-08. Victim reported that unknown subject(s) entered parked vehicle and stole a Dell Laptop computer and two Apple I-Pods. Ptl. David Smith.

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Img_5942The borough parking lot on White Street, as seen last September.

Here’s a story that will gladden the hearts of many Red Bank retailers and restaurateurs while no doubt raising hackles in other quarters.

The Asbury Park Press is reporting that:

Developers have been talking to officials of the RiverCenter downtown alliance about reviving plans to build a parking deck in the business district.

Nancy Adams, RiverCenter executive director, said that they’ve had talks with a developer about a deck, which would have retail shops and residential units on the front of the structure and parking in back.

“There are talks that are out there of potential projects that could fill the bill, and we’re exploring things as much as possible,” Adams said. “It is all very preliminary.”

Press reporter Larry Higgs doesn’t identify the developers, and the article makes no mention of Trader Joe’s, a beloved specialty grocery chain that admirers liken to Whole Foods Market, only with smaller stores.

Last September, redbankgreen reported that representatives of Trader Joe’s and a development firm had met with Adams’ predecessor, Tricia Rumola, as well as Borough Administrator Stanley Sickels, to explore the possibility of building a store with a parking deck above it on the White Street lot.

Since then, Sickels told us as recently as earlier this month, he hasn’t heard anything more from the chain. Company officials haven’t returned repeated phone calls.

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We thought we had a big scoop when we reported back in July, 2006 (yes, newbies, redbankgreen is that old) that Ben & Jerry’s was planning to open a store on White Street.

The western end of the block, which sees relatively little foot traffic past Clearview Cinemas, would come alive with new businesses, triggering a land rush, we speculated. And things would only heat up if the long-debated parking garage was ever built on the White Street municipal lot.


Well, that vision gradually melted away. Though a sign touting the ice cream purveyor’s anticipated arrival stood for months in the window of a vacant storefront at 68 White, the butter pecan, cherry Garcia and Chubby Hubby frozen desserts never materialized.

But now, at least, the storefront is no longer vacant, thanks to the constant churn of retail establishments downtown, which are born, trade spaces and die with sometimes alarming frequency.

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Buona_seraBuona Sera’s plan to expand into the space now used by Fins and Feathers was approved by the Planning Board earlier this week.

It doesn’t have a single parking space to offer its customers, but Buona Sera Ristorante has gotten a greenlight from borough planners for an expansion that will boost its capacity by 148 seats.

In lieu of parking, the restaurant at the corner of Maple Avenue and Monmouth Street will be required to make a one-time $70,000 contribution to the borough parking fund, said Planning and Zoning Director Donna Smith Barr.

The Planning Board gave unanimous approval to the restaurant’s expansion Monday, despite reservations by the Visual Improvement Committee of Red Bank RiverCenter, the downtown promotional entity.

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For lovers of offbeat films, it’s one of the best things about living in or near Red Bank.

For student filmmakers, it’s a rare opportunity to get their work up on the big screen in front of an audience of more than just classmates and family members. Ditto, frankly, for many of their older counterparts.

And for folks simply looking for intelligent cinema that’s out of the ordinary, the selection could hardly be better.

We’re talking, of course, about the annual Red Bank International Film Festival, which kicks off tomorrow night and runs through Sunday at the Clearview Cinemas on White Street.

This year’s slate of more than 50 films, long and short, offers a range from amusing to heavy, with emphasis on chuckles and some tongue-in-cheek-macabre thrown in for bonus yuks.

“All in all, I think it’s a very tight film festival,” says Marc Leckstein, president of the Freedom Film Society, which puts on the festival, now in its seventh edition. “It’s got basically anything anyone would want.”

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It is perhaps the single most contentious issue in Red Bank: whether the downtown needs a parking garage.

Merchants, in general, say yes. They complain that a shortage of street and lot parking is choking their businesses and undermining broader efforts to capitalize on the town’s sterling reputation as a cultural and shopping destination.

Building a garage that significantly increases the number of parking slots in the central business district is the best thing Red Bank could do to preserve its stature among New Jersey downtowns and stave off threats from Pier Village in Long Branch and other emerging marketplaces, proponents say.

But many residents say no way to a parking deck — not if they have to pay for it with higher property taxes.

Efforts by the Democrat-controlled council to convert the borough-owned White Street lot to a parking deck attracted large, angry crowds in 2001 and 2005. The latter attempt called for a 570-car, $11.8 million structure. Both times, the idea was shelved.

The solution, many agree, is some form of public-private deal in which a developer carries the financial risk and the town gets both revenue and more slots.

Finally, a plan along those lines may be in the works. And it involves a high-profile retailer that has done this sort of thing before elsewhere.

redbankgreen has learned that representatives of Trader Joe’s, a wildly popular chain of specialty food stores with affordable prices, met with borough officials two weeks ago to explore the possibility of building a store with a parking deck above it on the White Street lot.

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Mayor Pasquale Menna lashed out last night at “little juveniles” from out of town whom he blames for recently grafitti-bombing the public library and loitering in front of stores near West Front Street and Maple Avenue.

His remarks came amid a series of complaints by merchants at last night’s borough council meeting that packs of young people are hanging out in front of stores and damaging property, particularly at the City Centre Plaza shopping center, the 7-11 and the parking lot next to the Commerce Bank.

“These are not our kids,” Menna said. “These are the rich kids from other towns.”

Not so, said Mark Harry, whose wife runs a hair salon at City Centre, where he said employees have been harassed by loiterers, including at least one incident in which a young adult sought to exchange sex for cash.

“Some of those kids wear Red Bank Regional jackets,” Harry said. “Don’t tell me it’s not Red Bank.”

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Now-Second Deputy Fire Chief Joe Forgione had just put the license plates on the Liberty Hose Co.’s new pumper last November 7 when, “next thing we knew, the fire call comes in,” he said.

The alarm was for a blaze that heavily damaged a house on South Pearl Street. “Everything worked well, so it’s been tested,” Forgione said of the vehicle.

Today, the 2,000-gallons-per-minute pumper is being formally inaugurated at the borough-owned firehouse on White Street.

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When you’re redoing a downtown, as rookie Fair Haven Mayor Mike Halfacre is discovering, you can’t please everyone.

Exhibit A: the borough’s streetscape plan, which calls for the sidewalks from Memorial Park to Oak Place to be redone in white concrete stamped with a herringbone pattern, and for the installation of faux Victorian light fixtures. River Road in the vicinity of Fair Haven Road will be repaved.

Everyone agrees the sidewalks need replacing “They’re in terrible condition,” says Halfacre, “like downtown Beirut in some places.”

But now, at the eleventh hour, some business owners are pushing for brick instead of concrete. On Monday night, hours after construction on the job is scheduled to start, they plan to ask the Borough Council to allow them to opt out of the concrete solution, at their own expense.

It could be a tough sell. If construction is delayed by plan changes, finishing the work for Memorial Day weekend as other merchants insist may not be possible. Retailers are still smarting over the 2005 reconstruction of the bridge over Fourth Creek, just a few hundred feet west of the intersection, which all but shut off downtown traffic for months.

“The business owners are very sensitive about traffic flow,” says Halfacre. “They’re afraid [if construction impedes access again] their customers won’t come back this time.”

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In the ever-chipper language of public relations, this year’s “Shopper Bowl Shuffle,” a downtown sales push in conjunction with the Super Bowl, is “bigger and better,” says a press release from RiverCenter.


The “better” remains open to interpretation, but in fact, Shopper Bowl II is shaping up as somewhat smaller than last year’s version. And the falloff in participation among downtown businesses illustrates the challenges that organizers face in corralling large numbers of merchants for themed, collective efforts.

RiverCenter, the nonprofit administrator of the downtown Special Improvement District, lists 41 stores, restaurants and salons that plan to be open and offering discounts of 20 percent or more this weekend. A year ago, there were 53. And only 38 of this year’s participating stores are expect to be open both days of the two-day event, down from an estimated 48 last year.

Nineteen businesses that were on last year’s list aren’t on this year’s, a drop partly attributable to store closings and relocations. Furnishings retailer Vizzini & Company, for example, moved from Monmouth Street to the Galleria, which is outside the district. Old Monmouth Candies, on Broad Street for the past two years, recently retrenched to its original Freehold location. The Paper Rose, a card store on Broad, is closing for renovations.

But it’s not only a matter of the steady churn of retail faces that accounts for the decline. A dozen businesses that held sales last year and still operate in the district didn’t re-up, even though nearly all of them plan to be open Saturday anyway. They are: Agostino Antiques, Coco Pari, Mustillo’s, Primas Home & Cafe, Surray Luggage, Maxwell & Sophie, Drummer’s Alley, Readie’s Fine Foods, Seldin’s Jewelry, Cigars Plus, Grieco’s Bakery and Quicksilver Handcrafted Jewelry.

What gives?

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Pat Menna is showing off the first floor of his home, a spacious Dutch Colonial he shares with his five-year-old white Labrador retriever, Bella. It’s on a corner lot in one of Red Bank’s more upmarket neighborhoods, and in contrast to the white exterior trimmed in black, the interior is painted in bold, contemporary colors, yet decorated with Roman and other antiquities.

“I don’t have too many vices, but I love iconography,” the Byzantine tradition of religious images painted on wood and highlighted in gold leaf, says Menna. “Being 100-percent Italian, I have an immense emotional attachment to the place of my birth. I like to be surrounded by things that remind me of my childhood.”

As for the lipsticky color in the stairwell he says, “the red highlights, I think, the icons, which need a dark color to bring them out.”

Just off to the side of where we’ll be talking, however, in what appears to be a solarium, Bella has added her own splash of color to the oatmeal-colored carpeting by puking on it. And somehow, the fastidious and formal Menna either hasn’t noticed this, or is pretending not to.

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No question, the George Sheehan Classic is still an important event for Red Bank, bringing in several thousand participants and onlookers who spread around some cash and create a festive vibe in town for nearly 24 hours.

This year’s edition, the 13th since the old Asbury Park 10K was moved here and renamed for Doc Sheehan, will be run Saturday morning, augmented as usual by a popular a “runner’s expo” in Marine Park both Friday night and after the race.

It’s still one of the premier road races in this region, attracting world-class runners. And Broad Street takes on a completely different complexion with all those scantily-clad, sweaty runners embracing one another after conquering Tower Hill.

But let’s face it, Old George hasn’t got the freshest legs.

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