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.