RED BANK: FOREST LAUNCHES MAYORAL BID

Ben Forest, above, hopes to unseat three-term Mayor Pasquale Menna, below. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The 2018 race for Red Bank mayor got underway Wednesday with the announcement by West Side activist Ben Forest that he would challenge incumbent Pasquale Menna for the Democratic party’s endorsement.

Read More »

LINCROFT: CLEARWATER FLOWS AT BROOKDALE

Jody Joseph and her band close out the musical entertainment on the Seeger Stage when the 42nd annual Clearwater Festival returns to the Brookdale campus this weekend.

The Clearwater Festival is a “party with a purpose,” in the words of Ben Forest, environmental policy/coalitions liaison for the Red Bank-based nonprofit New Jersey Friends of Clearwater. And when the purpose is the care of the coast that’s our home, the mission remains the main attraction of the environmental awareness fair, which returns to Brookdale Community College for its 42nd annual edition this Saturday and Sunday.

But still — what a party!

Read More »

RED BANK: GARAGE BACKERS AIM AT LOGJAM

Roger Mumford, seen here in 2015, has offered a new plan for the White Street parking lot site that garage backers hope will dissolve political opposition to development. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

One of the five would-be builders of a downtown parking garage has told Red Bank officials he’s willing to build a 773-space parking garage on White Street in exchange for the right to erect 100 homes next door.

Garage advocates touted the informal proposal Wednesday night in the hopes of busting through a political logjam, one they believe has been erected by the three Democrats on the six-member borough council.

Read More »

RED BANK: PRESSED, ATTORNEY APOLOGIZES

Borough Attorney Greg Cannon at Wednesday’s council meeting. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank’s borough attorney apologized Wednesday night for a bizarre episode last month in which he redirected a video camera belonging to former Councilwoman Cindy Burnham.

Attorney Greg Cannon offered the mea culpa after being pressed for it by Locust Avenue resident Ben Forest.
Read More »

RED BANK: DOWNTOWN APARTMENTS OK’D

Mayor Pasquale Menna explains his vote to approve the project, a rendering of which is seen on a computer screen in the foreground. At left is board Engineer Ed Herrman. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A proposed 35-unit apartment building in downtown Red Bank won unanimous planning board approval Monday night.

First, however, several critics, including two board members, took parting shots at a process that kept the controversial plan alive for a year after it was rejected by the zoning board.

Read More »

RED BANK: HAMPTON INN WINS APPROVAL

Peter Steck, a planner hired by an opponent of the proposed hotel, testified that the developer was “stuffing” the one-acre site. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

After nearly seven years of battles, a proposed hotel at the northernmost entrance to Red Bank won approval Monday night.

The planning board’s OK of a six-story, 76-room Hampton Inn at the foot of the Route 35 Cooper’s Bridge came after a last-minute concession by the developer.

Read More »

LINCROFT: CLEARWATER FLOWS AGAIN

Dawg Whistle Paul Whistler Vini LopezShore music legends Paul Whistler and Vini Lopez team up as Dawg Whistle, while fellow famed musicmakers Glen Burtnik and Bob Burger (below) suit up for the Weeklings, when the 41st annual Clearwater Festival returns to the Brookdale campus this weekend.

Burtnik BurgerIt’s all about the message, when you get right down to it, one of care and respect and vision for this coastal place where we make our home. But when the Clearwater Festival returns to Lincroft for a frankly amazing 41st annual edition this weekend, attendees might be forgiven for thinking that it’s equally about the music — an attraction that’s drawn the participation of some pretty awesome figures over the years.

Read More »

RED BANK: PARKING PLAN ADVANCES, BARELY

rb white st lot 071916 1A divided council gave the go-ahead for a consultant to develop a concept plan for the White Street parking lot. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

LicPlate1Red Bank moved another step toward a possible answer to its chronic parking woes Wednesday night, but only after Mayor Pasquale Menna cast a pair of tiebreakers that put him at odds with fellow Democrats.

Menna’s votes were necessary after the council’s two lone Democrats joined with its sole independent in raising objections to a $6,500 contract for a concept plan covering the borough-owned White Street parking lot, where merchants and town officials envision a parking garage.

The debate also exposed rare friction between Menna and Red Bank RiverCenter, the semi-authonomous agency that promotes downtown business interests.

Read More »

RED BANK: BOARD VOWS CHARTER PLAN FIGHT

135 MONMOUTH 121515 1The charter school recently leased space at 135 Monmouth Street, the former home of Prown’s Home Improvements, and hopes to acquire the building for its planned expansion. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03A proposal to double enrollment at the Red Bank Charter School proved fighting words to the borough district Tuesday night.

If allowed, the expansion of the 200-student charter school “will almost certainly lead to a significant tax increase, as well as a multitude of cuts” in services at the borough schools, a visibly riled Superintendent Jared Rumage told a small audience at a board of education meeting held at the middle school.

“I cannot and will not allow our children to be left behind,” he said.

Read More »

RED BANK: BOE MEMBER SLAMS TAX NOTICE

rb schools 081115Board of ed member Sue Viscomi, left, criticized the borough’s handling of the tax adjustment notice. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

taxesAfter an adjustment by borough officials that nearly doubled an expected increase in the local school tax last month, a member of the Red Bank Board of Education fired back Tuesday night.

Sue Viscomi, who heads the board’s finance committee, said borough taxpayers may have been misled into believing the board approved a 12.74-percent spike in the local school portion of the tax, when in fact it adopted a budget reflecting a 6.95-percent increase in April.

“I personally think it’s irresponsible, what the town did with our tax bill,” she said at a board workshop meeting Tuesday night at the middle school. “We did not vote for a 12-percent increase.”

Read More »

RED BANK: SCHOOL TAX UP NEARLY 7 PERCENT

suzanne viscomi 042815Suzanne Viscomi, of the board’s finance committee, speaking at Tuesday night’s meeting. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The typical Red Bank homeowner will pay $100 more this year to support the borough school district, following the board of education’s adoption of the 2015-’16 budget Tuesday night.

The $24.85-million spending plan, which one board member opposed, calls for a 6.95-percent local tax increase.

Read More »

RED BANK: HELP KEEP THE STRINGS SINGING

rb strings 061814 4HOT-TOPIC_03As reported by redbankgreen last month, the strings program in the Red Bank school district is facing extinction because of budget cuts. The school board and parents are looking for ways to keep it alive. Meantime, a handful of students from the program plan to play a selection of folk tunes, including “Go Tell Aunt Rhody,” at 2 p.m. this Saturday in front of Toad Hollow, at 9 Monmouth Street, in an effort to call attention to the effort. The video below, made by parent Wayne Woolley, is another part of that effort.

Wouldn’t it be nice to give them a big, curbside audience to encourage them? You might also bring your checkbook or cash, in case you feel inspired to help in that way. For more info, contact Cathy Costa at ccosta273@yahoo.com. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: SCHOOL STRINGS TO GO SILENT

rb strings 061814 2rb strings 061814 1Getting ready to tackle Beethoven, Bartok and Bach, Red Bank primary and middle school students tuned up for their annual concert at the middle school Wednesday night. The strings program, however, was cut from the 2014-’15 budget, shaving $80,000, even as the local tax levy soared by nearly 10 percent. “It was all bad choices,” said school board President Ben Forest, whose daughter was among the kids playing their final concert at the school. “It’s horrible, but sometimes we’re charged with making horrible decisions.” Pressure to save the program is great, he added, and “we are looking at ways of restoring it.” Here’s a letter about the options sent to parents on Wednesday: Strings Letter 06-2014 (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

rb strings 061814 3

SCIENCE DAY FUNDED FOR RED BANK PRIMARY

ZipprichBenRed Bank Borough Education Foundation secretary and borough Councilman Ed Zipprich (left, with RBEFF’s Ann Roseman at right) presented Board of Ed president Ben Forest with a Mini Grant for a Science Day to be held in June at Red Bank Primary School.

Press release from Red Bank Borough Education Foundation

All in the interest of science, the Red Bank Borough Education Foundation presented the Red Bank Board of Education with a Rosemarie Kopka Mini-Grant for two thousand dollars, toward a Science Day to be held in June at the Red Bank Primary School.

Red Bank Councilman and RBBEF Secretary Ed Zipprich — joined by Ann Roseman, member of both the RBBEF board and the RB Board of Education — presented the check to borough Board of Ed president Ben Forest, as part of RBBEF’s mission to promote the STEAM curriculum (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) in the Red Bank Public Schools.

Read More »

LAWSUIT TO COST BOROUGH $125,000

51-monmouthThe former police station, with the Relief Engine Company firehouse attached at right, is on both state and national registers of historic places. (Click to enlarge)

Public comment on a proposed settlement of a long-simmering dispute over the former Red Bank police station was temporarily halted Wednesday night after a resident questioned whether the issue had been properly advertised.

But not before borough officials outlined the terms of the deal with the Community YMCA that will cost borough taxpayers $125,000 over five years — and not before residents began castigating it as a no-win deal for the town.

Read More »

RBMS WILL GET SPORTS BACK, GROUP SAYS

rbmsThe leader of a grassroots group formed to save sports says Red Bank Middle School will see its sports program return. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Just a few seconds after hearing earlier this year that all sports at Red Bank Middle School were being dropped for financial reasons, the thought popped into Gene Horowitz’s head: he had to find a way to bring them back.

“Right away I was thinking, it’s too important to too many kids,” said Horowitz, who has two sons in the middle school.

So he started dialing up some heavy-hitters in town so they could all put their heads together and find a way to make it happen. The Red Bank Middle School Athletics Foundation met for the first time Wednesday night. It’s no longer a thought. Sports will return, Horowitz said.

Read More »

LONE CANDIDATE FACES THE VOTERS

naacp-041310Ben Forest, below, met with residents Tuesday night in a forum sponsored by the Red Bank NAACP. (Photos by Anthony Trufolo; click to enlarge.)

ben-forest

It was board of ed candidate’s night last night at Red Bank’s Calvary Baptist Church.

That’s right: ‘candidate,’ singular. The Red Bank school board, though it has three open seats in next week’s election, has only one declared candidate: incumbent finance committee chairman Ben Forest.

He fielded questions at a sit-down hosted by the local chapter of the NAACP.

“There was a lot of concern about budget cuts, particularly cuts to the athletic program,” Forest tells redbankgreen.

Read More »

BOARD PASSES BUDGET, TAX INCREASE

rb-budgetBoard members Ann Roseman and Ben Forest at Tuesday night’s session. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The Red Bank Board of Education unanimously passed a $19 million budget Tuesday night, a spending plan that will increase the tax levy if voters approve it next month.

Even with $1.4 million in reductions in the general operating portion of the budget, to $14.1 million, the budget will result in a 3.75 percent increase to the tax rate due to a drop in revenues and the state-mandate that local school districts use surplus funds to compensate for state aid cuts, school officials said.

Property owners would see an approximate 2 cent increase per $100 of valuation their tax bills, to $0.5371. For the owner of a home assessed at the borough-average $405,000, that would mean $2,175 in taxes, excluding levies for the the borough government, the regional high school and Monmouth County.

To make up for a steep cut in state aid to the two-school system, positions had to be eliminated — though there haven’t been any layoffs — and, among other extracurricular programs, all athletics at the middle school were dropped.

“To me that’s just incredible,” said a displeased Ben Forest, who heads the board’s finance committee.

Read More »