RED BANK: DOUBTS ON PRESERVATION LAW

Homes along Washington Street, in the borough’s designated historic district, would be affected by the ordinance, as would properties beyond the district’s borders. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Does Red Bank’s Historic Preservation Commission need more teeth?

The borough’s planning board began chewing on that question Monday night, and seemed not to like the taste of it.

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RED BANK: EX-REC HEAD ALLEGES RACISM

memone-kidsMemone Crystian with Red Bank Little Leaguers in 2010. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

A former director of Red Bank’s parks and rec department is suing the borough and former officials, alleging she was forced out of the job by racism and gender discrimination.

Memone Crystian quit the position in May, 2015, “after years of being subjected to a hostile work environment” that included discrimination by then-borough Administrator Stanley Sickels and then-councilman Art Murphy, the suit alleges.

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RED BANK: WITH LEE’S RETURN, WOMEN RULE

sharon lee 090915Sharon Lee, flanked by Mayor Pasquale Menna and former Councilwoman Juanita Lewis, gets ready to swear the oath of office while Councilman Mike DuPont takes a photo. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03For the first time in Red Bank’s 107-year history, women now outnumber men on the borough council.

Former Councilwoman Sharon Lee returned to the dais Wednesday night, following unanimous approval by the governing body to complete the three-plus months remaining in the term of former Council President Art Murphy, who resigned last month.

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RED BANK: DEMS TAP BALLARD FOR COUNCIL

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The Red Bank Democrats named board of education member Michael Ballard to replace former Councilman Art Murphy on the November election ballot, according to an announcement Monday night.

Ballard, who also serves on the parks and recreation advisory committee, joins three-term incumbent Councilman Mike DuPont in trying to maintain the Democrat’s 4-2 majority on the governing body into 2016.

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RED BANK: GOODBYES AND HELLOS

art murphy 061414Councilman Art Murphy, who resigned last week, seen here in 2014. Below, George and Gladys Bowden, who were honored for decades of volunteer work. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

bowden 081215It was a night for farewells and greetings at a packed Red Bank council meeting Wednesday night.

Elected officials and residents bid goodbye to a longtime councilman and a retired couple who put in many years of preservation and beautification work.

And they welcomed a new member of the police department while cheering on on a seven-year veteran of the force on her promotion to sergeant.

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RED BANK: MURPHY TO RESIGN, REPORT SAYS

dupont-murphyArt Murphy, at far right, high-fives running mate Mike DuPont on their re-elections to the council in 2009. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

just_in1Red Bank Council President Art Murphy plans to resign next week, according to a published report.

Murphy told Art Gallagher of More Monmouth Musings that he’ll make it official at next Wednesday’s council meeting, and that he won’t stand for re-election in November.

Murphy’s departure creates an opening for borough Republicans to take control of the governing body.

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RED BANK: MURPHY MOCKS POOL HALL CLIENTS

A video posted on YouTube shows Red Bank Council President Art Murphy deriding the customers of the former Lucky Break Billiards at a party. Below, Murphy and Lucky Break partner James Hertler square off at a November, 2013 council meeting. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

[Update: Within 25 minutes of this article’s posting, the YouTube video had been removed, but a redbankgreen reader sent us a downloaded version, posted above.]

 

By JOHN T. WARD

hertler murphy 112513A video posted on YouTube Monday shows Red Bank Council President Art Murphy mocking the customers of a now-closed billiards hall as “hippie mother****ers dying for a ****ing quarter” who wouldn’t pay for parking, leading to the demise of the business.

“They don’t want to put the money in the meter,” Murphy insists to a group of young men surrounding him at a social event. The business, Lucky Break Billiards, would still be ****ing open” if the clientele had more money, he insists to one.

Murphy called the YouTube posting evidence of “a cynical world.” James Hertler, a Lucky Break partner who alleges local officials forced him out of business, said it shows a “command performance” by Murphy.

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RED BANK: GOP KICKS OFF EARLY CAMPAIGN

whelan taylor 052715Mark Taylor, right, and running mate Mike Whelan were joined by GOP bigwigs for a campaign kickoff on Monmouth Street Wednesday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

After a quarter-century in the minority, will Red Bank Republicans be able to harness their momentum of the last two elections to take control of the borough government?

Getting an early jump on this year’s race for two council seats, the local GOP trotted out some big local names for a kickoff event Wednesday night.

And they held it out on Monmouth Street, just feet away from both borough hall and new parking kiosks they believe symbolize the “arrogance” of Democrats, who now hold a 4-2 majority on the council as well as the mayoralty.

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RED BANK: GOP TAPS NEWCOMERS FOR RACE

taylor whelan 033015 1Mark Taylor, left, and Mike Whelan, center, with GOP Chairman Sean Di Somma outside borough hall Monday night. Democrats Mike DuPont and Art Murphy, below, on election night 2012. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

dupont murphy 110612Red Bank Republicans, hoping to leverage gains in the last two municipal elections, have set their sights on control of the borough council for the first time in 25 years.

And as in the last election, when all-but-unknown Linda Schwabenbauer emerged as the top vote-getter in a field of four candidates, they’re putting their bets on political newcomers.

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RED BANK CHIEF STEVE MCCARTHY DEAD AT 50

Chief Steve McCarthy at borough hall in November, 2011. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank Police Chief Steve McCarthy died Monday morning following an extended battle with cancer. He was 50 years old.

McCarthy died at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, where he had been hospitalized in recent weeks, Mayor Pasquale Menna confirmed.

“I have lost a good friend and invaluable partner,” Menna said in a statement released at noontime. “The police department has been deprived of the spirited leadership and unstinted dedication of the most consummate law enforcement professional in the state. His fellow borough employees have lost a colleague who was a true friend. The residents of Red Bank have been deprived of an intelligent, gracious, gentle and efficient public servant.”

“The whole department is beside itself with grief,” police Commissioner and Council President Art Murphy told redbankgreen. “Everybody in [borough hall] is taking it very hard.”

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RED BANK: NEW YEAR, FAMILIAR FACES

The young son of new fire department Chief TD Doremus makes a beeline for his dad at Tuesday’s swearing-in. Below, Councilman Mike DuPont takes the oath of office, administered by former mayor Ben Nicosia, left, and joined by his mom, one of his children and former mayor Ed McKenna. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

An air of status quo dominated as Red Bank officials completed their annual reorganization of the borough government on New Year’s Day.

“Art and I ran to continue the progress you’re seeing,” Councilman Mike DuPont told a packed council chambers, referring to fellow council member and 2012 running mate Art Murphy, after each was sworn into office.

Mayor Pasquale Menna, too, spoke of continuing to build on what he characterized as improvements in the town’s economic foundation, arts profile, recreation facilities and more.

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RED BANK: CANDIDATES DIFFER ON FINANCES

GOP challenger Suzanne Viscomi speaks at Wednesday night’s candidates’ forum as incumbents Mike DuPont, left, and Art Murphy listen. (Photo by Rebecca Desfosse. Click to enlarge)

By REBECCA DESFOSSE

The lone GOP challenger for one of two Red Bank council seats open in the November 6 election squared off against two incumbents in a lively forum at the River Street Commons Wednesday night.

Newcomer Suzanne Viscomi, of Allen Place, is taking on Democrats Mike DuPont of South Street and Art Murphy of Prospect Avenue, hoping to end their party’s five-year monopoly on the governing body.

“Let your vote allow me to be your voice,” Viscomi asked the audience of about 75.

Murphy, though, disputed the notion of groupthink on the governing body.

“I don’t agree with Ms. Viscomi as far as when she says we are all one-sided up on the council,” he said in his closing statement. “We have our differences.”

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RED BANK COPS BACK ON THE BEAT

Patrolman George Travostino walking Broad Street Thursday afternoon. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

George Travostino has been getting a lot of double-takes lately.

Like all patrol-duty cops in the 40-officer Red Bank police department, Travostino has been spending more time out of his car in recent months, doing what he calls “old-school” beat-walking on the borough’s thoroughfares. And people don’t know what to make of it when they first see him, he tells redbankgreen.

“Some of the older people are a little…” he said, raising his eyebrows to illustrate, “and the young kids, they’ve never even seen it.”

Initial reactions aside, though, the reception appears to have been universally welcoming.

“I’ve been clamoring for this for years,” said Ceaar’s Creations owner Joe Cerasa, as Travostino stepped into Broad Street in front of his jewelry store to give directions to a motorist Thursday. “I’m going to call the chief and thank him. This is extremely important.”

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CALENDAR CONFLICT SPURS EVENTS REVIEW

boynton-councilFreddie Boynton and members of the Celestial Lodge had a beef to air about a block party. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It hadn’t happened in Council President Art Murphy’s seven years sitting on the Special Events Committee, and Mayor Pasquale Menna said he’s never seen it in his two decades in Red Bank government.

But a clogged calendar and miscommunication between two West Side groups is pushing the council to tighten up its processes to grant special event requests.

It came to a head Wednesday night, when members of the two groups locked horns over rights for coveted street space next month, and prompted the council, hat in hand, to ask each for a little help.

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FIXX NEEDS A FIX TO KEEP LIQUOR LICENSE

fixxFixx must go to the state if it wants to keep serving booze, Red Bank officials have decided. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Just like its predecessor, Fixx on West Front Street is in hot water with the borough government.

The council, citing “problems” and “public safety” issues, tabled a rubber-stamp resolution Wednesday night to renew the night club’s liquor license, which expires at the end of the month.

If Fixx wants to keep serving, it has to get a temporary license from the state Alcohol Beverage Control division, Mayor Pasquale Menna said.

Beyond that, the club, which more often than not draws a college-age crowd for live music and drinks in plastic Silo cups, must prove to the borough that it will operate at a more acceptable level.

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LANDLORDS LOOK TO LOOSEN RENT CONTROL

sbury-manorRed Bank landlords are pressing the borough government to make changes to its rent leveling ordinance. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Red Bank has one of the oldest and most successful rent control measures in the state, Mayor Pasquale Menna says.

But landlords went before Menna and his council counterparts last week to complain that they’re getting squeezed by the stringent standards in the borough’s rent leveling ordinance.

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FIREWORKS FEE AMENDED FOR KIDS

kaboom-muralThe Red Bank council amended the entry fee for the Kaboom fireworks Wednesday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Red Bank’s council had a collective palm-to-forehead moment Wednesday night.

Apparently caught up earlier this month in the haste of getting the entry charge for the KaBoom fireworks show formally passed so the organizers could go to print on advertising material, the council flubbed the fee structure for the show at its last meeting.

This, even after a pretty lengthy discourse on what qualifies as a child – and a mid-meeting text exchange with KaBoom committee Chairman Charles Moran.

“In confirming and calls and text, we probably missed something,” Mayor Pasquale Menna said.

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VALET, ROOFTOP DINING ON SUMMER MENU

park_it_021By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Sticking to their “open for business” push, Red Bank officials are working to roll out the red carpet for diners and drivers this summer season.

At Wednesday night’s council meeting, Mayor Pasquale Menna introduced two proposals to separate Red Bank from its primary Shore competitors, Asbury Park and Pier Village in Long Branch, and align itself more closely with places like Georgetown and New York City: valet parking and rooftop dining.

“It’s another step we’ve taken to indicate that Red Bank is open for business,”said Councilman Mike DuPont, who is leading a “red tape review” committee to make it easier for businesses to move into town.

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MULCH ADO ABOUT MAPLE COVE, AGAIN

11A request for mulch at Maple Cove digressed into a clash between Cindy Burnham and council members Tuesday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

When Cindy Burnham and other volunteers, part of the ad hoc Friends of Maple Cove group, ended a yearlong spat with the Borough of Red Bank and secured a deal to designate a one-acre patch at the foot of the Navesink River on Maple Avenue as a natural area with waterfront access, the understanding was that Burnham and company would maintain the parcel.

So says the town council.

Burnham maintains a different recollection.

“The only reason the Friends of Maple Cove came out to do anything was because you guys wouldn’t,” Burnham told the council Tuesday, following a request that the borough donate a half-truckload of mulch to the site.

The request triggered a kerfuffle between Burnham and the governing body over who should take care of the property, a question that never was answered.

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PEDESTRIAN SAFETY MEASURES SLATED


Front Street between English Plaza and Washington Street will get a number upgrades aimed at making pedestrians safer, a Monmouth County official said.

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Upgrades to one of Red Bank’s more troubled traffic areas will be in place next year, possibly by this time, Monmouth County officials told the borough council Tuesday.

In an overview of the planned enhancements, Kevin Nugent, of the county engineering office, said about $600,000 worth of work will go into the stretch of East and West Front streets between English Plaza and Washington Street — a highly-traveled section that’s seen more than 100 accidents in recent years.

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MURPHY: PUT IT IN YOUR OWN CAN

art-murphyCouncil President Art Murphy says the borough will crack down on residents and business owners dumping their trash in municipal containers. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The snow is just about melted away, and while that erases a lingering reminder of the pain from this winter, another icky problem is revealing itself in Red Bank.

Trash. Lots of it.

And Red Bank isn’t going to let it stick around, nor will it take a lenient approach to the people putting it out there, officials indicated Monday night.

Council President Art Murphy sent out a warning to businesses and residents, who he said have taken liberty with the borough’s trash containers on the sidewalks downtown, leading to overflowing cans and streets littered with waste.

“We had a tough winter, the snow is melting and there’s a lot of trash out there,” he said. “We do have a problem with tenants above a commercial property using our cans. I’ve seen some of the people from the businesses go out and throw their little white bag in the garbage.”

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COMMUNITY GARDEN GETS IFFY SEEDING

rbpl-maple-coveA community garden is proposed next to Maple Cove, but officials say they need to do their homework before giving it an OK. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

With the long debate over the preservation of Maple Cove echoing in the room, the Red Bank council last night parried with activist Cindy Burnham Monday night over a proposed community garden at the riverside public library.

Once again, elected officials claimed to have been caught off-guard.

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RBC RAISES KICK-IN ON BASIE FIELDS UPKEEP

count-basie-fieldsRed Bank Catholic will pay more for its use of Count Basie Fields to help defray the cost of the turf upgrades. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Red Bank Catholic‘s rent is going up.

The borough council Wednesday night voted to amend the parochial school’s annual lease of Count Basie Fields in order to help cover the $878,000 cost of a recent artificial turf job. Most of the cost — $537,500 — was covered by two grants, said borough Administrator Stanley Sickels said.

RBC will now pay $80,000 a year for use of the fields for the next 15 years, up from $55,000. It will also contribute $50,000 a year over the next three years into the field’s capital improvement fund, Sickels said.

Here’s the resolution on the agreement: 10-255draftresolution

Here’s a rundown of other happenings from Wednesday night’s council meeting:
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EJECTED FOOTBALLERS FLAG PARKS & REC

eastside-parkOfficials say Red Bank’s parks & rec commission will revisit the field-use ordinance after a group of residents was abruptly kicked out of Eastside Park Sunday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Two months ago Red Bank’s recreation commission started talking about revising its ordinance regulating the use of borough parks. It didn’t get far.

But when a public works employee punted a group of residents who were playing a pickup flag football in Eastside Park last Sunday, the incident raised questions about the borough’s field-use regulations and public works’ maintenance practices. And the backlash may have moved the previous talks to the top of a to-do list.

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PEDESTRIAN’S DEATH PROMPTS SAFETY TALKS

maple-w-frontBorough officials have asked the state DOT to look into safety improvements at the Maple Avenue/West Front Street intersection, where a pedestrian was killed two weeks ago. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The death of a 40-year-old pedestrian two weeks ago has spurred Red Bank police and other officials into discussions with  the New Jersey Department of Transportation over safety at the intersection in which she was hit by a truck.

Additionally, local leadership is brainstorming ways to make walking on borough streets less hazardous, they say.

On the list to accomplish that goal: speed-limit reductions, more four-way stops, and changes to signs and lighting, specifically at the intersection of West Front Street and Maple Avenue, where Laura Martin was hit and killed by a New Jersey Transit truck on October 27.

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