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MennaMayor Pasquale Menna speaks as RiverCenter executive director Nancy Adams looks on.

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.

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Ambrose, kim

Kim Ambrose says local dispatchers provide a sense of comfort to seniors that might not be available from the county system.

On the agenda at tonight’s meeting of the Fair Haven Council: discussion of a proposal to hand off to Monmouth County Sheriff’s office dispatchers responsibility for fielding all emergency calls originating from the borough.

Actually, it’s not literally on the agenda, and wasn’t expected to come up for a vote until next month. But part-time dispatcher and First Aid Squad volunteer Kim Ambrose of Harrison Avenue has been leading a campaign to put a spotlight on the issue. She’s planning to be there tonight, with supporters. A representative of the local PBA is expected to attend also.

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Pilgrim Baptist aired the final McCain-Obama debate on a large screen in the worship hall in October. A live inauguration screening and luncheon will be held in the church basement.

Of the many takeaways from the election of Barack Obama as president, Rev. Terrence Porter, pastor of Red Bank's Pilgrim Baptist Church, sees in it hope for a renewal of the idea of community service.

"I'm not a politician, but I think it began eroding around the time of Reaganomics and what came after that," he says. "People weren't as concerned about the working class."

With a former community organizer in the White House, Porter says he's enthused by the possible return to a sense of responsibility for those who need a hand.

In that spirit, Pilgrim Baptist is opening its doors to all comers for an inauguration luncheon in its basement Tuesday morning. And Porter is hoping that senior citizens in particular will gather to watch the swearing-in, so he's arranging to shuttle them from Red Bank Senior Citizen Center to the church and back.

"My heart's desire is that our senior citizens will be able to say, when looking back on this historic event, 'This is where I was,'" he says.

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H-SB bridge
According to the stranding center, three dolphins passed under the bridge twice yesterday – once to enter Sandy Hook Bay, at right, and then to return to the river.

Three of the five Atlantic bottlenose dolphins said to remain in the Shrewsbury River after a half-year’s visit headed out into Sandy Hook Bay over the weekend before returning to the upper stretch of the river, according to a report from the Associated Press.

To do so, the dolphins had to twice pass under the Highlands-Sea Bright Bridge, which activists and elected officials have said the animals were loath to approach because of construction noise.

The return of the dolphins to the river was attributed to their being “apparently frightened by construction noise near the bay” after the trio had traveled some 1,000 to 1,500 yards into the bay, according to the Asbury Park Press.

The source of the noise was not specified.

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AudienceThe scene at the River Street Commons auditorium last night.

The candidates rarely differed on policy or outlook, and when they did, not by much. The only raised voices were those of audience members calling for the candidates to speak up loudly enough to be heard.


Last night’s annual Red Bank candidates forum, sponsored for the twelfth year in a row by the West Side Community Group, was a bloodless affair. Looming over it was the question of whether the two council seats on the Nov. 4 ballot, now held by the governing body’s only two Republicans, should stay that way.

LewisDemocrat Juanita Lewis, left, is making her first running for council.

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Councilcandidates08Incumbent Republican Grace Cangemi, left, and running mate John Tyler Jr., right square off against Ed Zipprich and Juanita Lewis, center, at next week’s candidates’ forum. (Click to enlarge)

Big night for the politically tuned-in next Wednesday — particularly those with a hankering for baked sweets.

Most prominently, there’s the third and final presidential debate between senators John McCain and Barack Obama on television at 9p.

That’ll be preceded, locally, by the 12th annual candidates’ night in Red Bank, where four candidates for two council seats will square off starting at 7p.

But while some voters may be wondering how they can squeeze both into their schedules, just as tempting to many, no doubt, will be the “National Presidential Community Dessert Fellowship & Debate Watch Night” at the Pilgrim Baptist Church.

That’s a cramped way of saying the church will be showing the presidential debate on a large-screen television, but first will throw down with desserts brought in by attendees. That event is open to the public, non-partisan, and begins at 7:30p.

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NewturfRed Bank is seeking county and state grants with an eye toward replacing — maybe — the football field at Count Basie Park, seen here after a scrimmage last week between freshmen from RBC and Manasquan High.

Hey, if Monmouth County can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on poured-concrete skateparks and call them “open spaces,” why not a synthetic athletic field?

That’s the approach Red Bank officials are taking as they turn their attention to winning state and county grant money for a new artificial turf gridiron at Count Basie Park.

The field was one of several matters addressed at last night’s bimonthly borough council session, a nearly-three-hour affair otherwise dominated by discussion of a proposed ban on plastic bags.

Here are some highlights from the meeting.

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HonkThe Peer Players include (front row, left to right): Tiffany Lewcyk, Stephen Bucco, Forrest Burdett, Katie Kroeper; (middle row) Joseph Kim, Samantha Aurelio, Sara Howard, Christina Lennon, Allison Cloonan, Leah Sugerman, Elizabeth Coulter; (back row) Melissa Cloonan, Danny Cassidy.


Call it Children’s Theater of the Corn. Lord of the Flats, if you will. A weird world where the kids have taken over and are doing just famously, thank you very much, without the possibly quite overrated input and intervention of whatever passes for adults these days.

Those who tend not to trust anyone under 21 to see to the details should know that these people are putting on a show — not only minus the dictatorial whims of a “grown-up” director, but without a director of any kind.


Veteran directors can sneer into their megaphones or snap their riding-crops in frustration, but when the Middletown Peer Players open their production of Honk! at the Middletown Arts Center this weekend, they’ll be placing their work before the public with the knowledge that it will stand or fall entirely upon their efforts and energies. The troupe — made up of eighteen current or former students of Middletown High School South, and ranging in age from 15 to 20 — not only selected the show for production, they auditioned cast members, arranged the rehearsal schedule, and created the costumes and sets. Taking it a couple of steps further, they also hired their own musical director (Svetlana Nosov) and wrote their own application for a grant from the Middletown Township Cultural and Arts Council.

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Img_0846Kasandra Ekin


When I ran into Zebu last week to meet with Kasandra Ekin — Red Bank Regional‘s highest GPA-ranked senior from Red Bank — I was a little nervous. Besides her class ranking and advanced-placement-loaded transcript, Ekin was on varsity volleyball, majored in dance, choreographed an entire musical, led the French club and still found time to volunteer over 100 hours in nonprofit work. She’d even gotten a resolution honoring her from the Red Bank council earlier in the week (download 08-136.pdf.) I was barely able to make it out of bed in time to meet her for an afternoon interview.

I arrived out of breath and began frantically asking each female patron if she was, in fact, Kasandra. A few nos and more than a few strange looks later, I saw a girl sitting quietly on the side of the restaurant. She looked up, took off her glasses and waved my way. She was not only on time, but put together and ready for whatever I was going to throw at her. Score: Kasandra: 2 Colleen: 0

As I got my act together and started to launch my questions her way, however, I was caught off-guard. Sure, Kasandra may do more in a week than I do all year, but she also told me that New York Trends just got in some new cute clothing I should check out, and that she was nervous about her upcoming orientation at the University of Virginia. Maybe we weren’t from such different ends of the spectrum after all; maybe we were just two Red Bank girls grabbing coffee and talking about… well, everything.

RBG: What was your favorite thing about life at RBR?

I think the school offers a really unique opportunity to students there with the performing arts academy. I spent a year of high school in Jackson, and when I transferred to RBR I realized how lucky I was to dance right there in school. We also got to work with some of the other majors there, and it really is a whole level of professionalism in the arts that go on there.

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Rb_sideMiddletown_sideHubbard_planThe leading candidate for a replacement bridge — seen above in red — could be built with minimal shutdowns of the existing structure, proponents say. Top left, a rendering of the bridge with a pocket park on the Red Bank end, next to Red Bank Marina. Top right, a view from Middletown. (Click images to enlarge.)

A new West Front Street bridge over the Swimming River could be built while the existing temporary structure, erected in 2004, remains open, Monmouth County officials told a gathering of area residents at the Red Bank Senior Citizen’s Center last night.

Dressed up with stylized lamps and other touches to resemble the nearby Cooper Bridge, the gently curving new Hubbards Bridge would be 220 feet longer than the existing one, they said. With 10 feet of clearance above the water at high tide, it would also be 1.5 feet higher above the navigation channel, giving small-craft boaters some extra headroom as they come and go, they said.

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Cimg6909The temporary deck of the bridge was erected in 2004.


Four years after its deck was replaced with a temporary metal structure, the West Front Street Bridge is again facing shutdown — this time so a permanent replacement can be built.

The Monmouth County Engineering Department, headed by Joe Ettore, has scheduled two public information meetings this week to discuss “the improvement alternatives” of the bridge, also known as Hubbard’s Bridge, which links Red Bank to the River Plaza section of Middletown. It crosses the headwaters of the Navesink River where it is fed by the Swimming River.

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There’s been little formal notice to the public, but word of a plan to close the Fair Haven post office at 4p on weekdays is proving about as agreeable to local residents and business owners as the taste of envelope glue.


In the 60 minutes leading up to the end of the customary business day, there’s still work to be done, locals say.

“To me, it’s very upsetting,” says Dean Ross, owner of the Doc Shoppe. Though his shoe store is just two doors away from the postal facility in the Acme shopping center, he frequently needs to ship packages at the end of the day, he said.

He also feels the curtailment will force seniors and disabled residents with late-afternoon mailing needs to drive to Red Bank, where parking is difficult.

“If anything, they should be extending the hours,” he says of the postal service.

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It’s been back up and running since late January, but this Saturday, the Red Bank Public Library plans to hold a grand reopening to mark the completion of a $1.6 million renovation.

The interior design of the facility was done by Globus Design Associates, a three-person firm that specializes in library and museum work and is one of the field’s more accomplished practitioners in this part of the country. It also just happens to be based right here in Red Bank, just a few blocks east of the library. Firm principal Suzan Globus of Fair Haven, a past president of both the American Society of Interior Designers and its New Jersey affiliate, founded the firm 18 years ago.


redbankgreen spoke recently with Globus about her work on the project. We met in the former Eisner family living room, now the home of the New Jersey collection, which Globus calls “one of the most beautiful public spaces in Red Bank. I just can’t think of another interior in Red Bank equal to this one.”

How did you come to this specialty?

I was a journalist, and had reached my life goal by the ripe age of 25; that was to become a newspaper editor [at a weekly shopper on Long Beach Island]. Along the way I had written sports, I had written for magazines, I had written for TV and for a member of Congress, and the only thing I hadn’t done was to write a book. But I quickly realized I didn’t know anything about anything but writing, and who wants to read that book?

So I decided I should go pursue another interest and then write a book about it, and that led me to a one-year course in interior design, and I loved it. So I said, ‘I’m going to do this properly,’ and I went on to get another four-year degree in interior design, and became qualified by the National Council for Interior Design. [The book idea, she says, fell to the wayside.]

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Today, redbankgreen introduces ‘DONE GOOD,’ an occasional feature spotlighting individuals and organizations making a positive impact on their communities through volunteer efforts.

For info on submitting items for consideration, see below.

TONIGHT: RBR Hosts art auction

The third annual charity art auction entitled “Art for Heart Sake” will take place at Red Bank Regional High School from 6:30 to 8:30p. Proceeds will benefit the Amanda’s Easel Art Therapy Program, which aids children dealing with abuse and bereavement.

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Img_1798Visiting actors would stay rent-free at 81 Shrewsbury Avenue under a plan pitched by Two River Theater founder Bob Rechnitz.

“Everybody loves the Two River Theater,” says Red Bank Zoning Board vice chairperson Lauren Nicosia.

But the board’s reviews aren’t yet in on the question of whether the theater should be allowed to house up to five actors at a time in a Shrewsbury Avenue home.

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Council candidate Grace Cangemi arrives at the 8th district polling station (the Senior Citizens’ Center, on Shrewsbury Avenue), presumably to “re-elect” herself. Joe Parrillo of Madison Avenue emerges from a voting booth at the district 4 station, at the United Methodist Church on Broad Street.

Voting was moderate-to-busy at two Red Bank polling stations visited by redbankgreen at midmorning today.

The 4th district had seen about 75 voters come in. Over at the 8th, about 40 citizens had pushed the buttons. Workers at both stations said those numbers were on par with activity seen in the last general election.

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The 12th-District Senate race between incumbent Democrat Ellen Karcher and Republican Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck, already framed by both sides as a contest over which candidate is the most committed to ethics reforms in Trenton, got personal yesterday.

Karcher accused Beck, of Red Bank, of violating ethics rules by using state letterhead and other trappings of office for political purposes within 90 days of an election.


The complaint concerns a letter written on Beck’s legislative stationery to residents of Seabrook Village in Tinton Falls. It highlights Beck’s opposition to a plan by the Navy to allow some 300 civilian families to occupy military housing at the Naval Weapons Station Earle, and refers readers to “our online petition” expressing opposition to the plan.

The website location of the petition — — is prominently marked as “Sponsored by Beck for Senate and O’Scanlon and Casagrande for Assembly,” referring to Beck ticketmates Declan O’Scanlon of Little Silver and Caroline Casagrande of Colts Neck.

In letters sent yesterday to the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Ethical Standards and the state Election Law Enforcement Commission, Karcher asks for investigations into whether state legislative funds were improperly used for campaign purposes. She contends the letter was sent out in August, within the 90-day moratorium.

From the news blog PoliticsNJ:

Beck responded that the complaint was “frivolous,” and that she never mailed the letter. Instead, she handed it out during a visit to Seabrook Village, a senior living center in Tinton Falls. Beck said that handing out the letter did not violate the “spirit or letter of the law.”

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Most weekdays during the school year, parking gets pretty tight along East Bergen Place between Broad and South streets.

The return of autumn means that Broad Street Post Office employees who find refuge for their cars at the Red Bank Middle School during the summer are forced to go on the hunt again.

And that means competing with car-loving, space-hungry seniors from Red Bank Catholic High School for precious spots. In recent months, East Bergen has been the answer for a number of motorists.

Well, next month, the pickins’ may get significantly slimmer. A proposed ordinance up for adoption by the Borough Council Monday night would put the entirety of East Bergen Place, from Maple Avenue to Branch Avenue, off-limits to everyone but residents.

The change is welcome by East Bergen residents Tim Zebo and Kathy Fitzgerald. But postal employees, already without a workplace parking lot, will now have to wander even farther in search of spaces.

News of the plan caught Postmaster Scott Rosenberg completely off guard.

“This is the first I’m hearing about it,” Rosenberg told redbankgreen this morning. “You’re talking more permits — that ain’t promising at all.”

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After a series of discussions over the past couple of years about how to improve access to and the usability of the Swimming River and Navesink River shorelines, the Red Bank Waterfront Plan is finally ready.

Have at it, folks. It’s at the borough website. Hard copies are available at the borough clerk’s office.

The 110-page paperback plan, prepared by the urban planning and architecture firm of Wallace, Roberts & Todd of Philadelphia, is filled with color photos, aerial shots and blue-sky concept drawings of what might be done to turn inaccessible patches of riverside into strollable and explorable stretches.

Given the state of the borough’s wallet, it’s clearly a kind of Christmas wish list. But Lou DiMento, chairman of the borough environmental commission, says it has value.

“The benefit of the document is it gives people a sense of, ‘What if they got really ambitious — how could we make some very significant waterfront improvements?'” he says.

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The Rumson-Fair Haven girls baskeball team advanced to the semifinal round of the state championship tourney last night, putting away Red Bank Catholic, 47-41.

Today’s coverage in the Star-Ledger keys in on the foul shooting of Gabbie DePalo, who hit four from the line in the final 25 seconds, putting R-FH ahead after a 41-41 tie.

And get this, from the Ledger story:

DePalo couldn’t celebrate the monumental victory with a complete heart. She transfered from Red Bank Catholic, where she spent her last two years, over to the neighboring Rumson prior to the start of school and parted ways with her senior sister, Mia, in the process, who career came to a close thanks to her younger sibling’s heorics.

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Les Gertrude, the grande dame Broad Street apartment building that’s long been troubled by balky elevators, is getting a new pair of lifts.


At a meeting Tuesday night involving tenants, the landlord and a clutch of local officials, plans to replace the elevators in the 78-year-old building—and the impacts on residents—were discussed.

Mayor Pasquale Menna, who was among those present, said the purpose of the meeting was to let the tenants know what to expect during the disruption and to assure them that their safety won’t be compromised.

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Click on the image to see larger version. If it exceeds the size of your screen, try saving it to your desktop and then opening it.

The season of big, beautiful voices kicks off next Saturday, Nov. 18, with the presentation of ‘Four Trumpets and a Chorus’ by the Monmouth Civic Chorus at the First Presbyterian Church at Red Bank.

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Somehow, the décor seems out of character for the sole occupant of this 673-square-foot condo at Red Bank Manor, a shady cluster of two-story red-brick buildings off Spring Street.

For starters, it’s painted beige, a neutral color. And with its understated furnishings and framed prints of Grecian urns hanging on the beige walls, the place seems way too sedate to be the home of John Curley, the firebrand politician whose manner is often as jabbing as it is courteous.

But something catches your eye soon after you enter the apartment, and it’s more in line with the public Curley persona. There, on the floor, is a rather large exercise machine that announces itself like a six-foot-long exclamation mark. It straddles the opening between the living room and Curley’s home office.

And just like that, the connection between the man and the place is clear. This is the where Curley trains for his trademark door-to-door campaigns against an administration that he denounces as an examplar of machine politics. It’s a device on which the driven Curley challenges himself.

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Say goodbye to another Red Bank landmark.

Shrewsbury Manor, an idyllic cluster of 59 apartments located next door to the Molly Pitcher Inn, is gradually being cleared out and will fall to the bulldozer sometime after the last tenants have departed in late 2007, redbankgreen has learned.

Samantha Bowers, vice president of Philip J. Bowers & Co., the family-owned real estate development firm that built Shrewsbury Manor 60 years ago and still owns it, yesterday confirmed that the buildings will be razed.

Because of their age, the two-story, red brick structures “require an extraordinary amount of maintenance,” said Bowers. “The buildings have reached the end of their useful life, and so this is, unfortunately, what we have to do. It’s time to redevelop the property.”

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A curious figure was seen heading stiffly down the driveway to Jim Frechette’s woodworking shop off Shrewsbury Avenue Monday afternoon.

Pale and dressed in white shirt and shorts, his ghostly form was accented by the dark trim of orthopedic restraint: a neck brace, a wrist splint and a knee brace. The black line of an eye patch angled across the back of his head.

This turned out to be Jim Frechette himself, the proprietor and sole employee of the business. And he was visiting his dormant shop for the first time since a motorcycle accident April 30 in Marlboro nearly killed him.

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