RED BANK: LIVING SHORELINE HITS HARD STOP

WhatsGoingOnHererbpl bulkhead 061016 2The new Navesink River bulkhead at the Red Bank Public Library, as seen from the natural shoreline at Maple Cove. Below, a June, 1906 Red Bank Register article reported on Sigmund Eisner’s plans for the property, including the installation of a bulkhead. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD
eisner bulkhead June 6, 1906

This month 110 years ago, the Navesink River site that would later become the home of the Red Bank Public Library was about to get its first bulkhead.

Over the ensuing century, such hard-stop bulkheads came to be regarded as a flawed means of protecting shorelines: less effective at blunting storm ravages than natural shores, and unfriendly to marine life. So when it authorized a controversial new bulkhead two years ago, the borough council relented to public pressure and asked that the replacement incorporate whatever elements possible to make it more like a so-called living shoreline.

In the end, however, the new bulkhead, completed this month. is pretty much the same as the old one.

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RED BANK: BUDGET, BONDS & A NEW HIRE

By JOHN T. WARD

taxesA first look at this year’s budget, and public confusion over the impact of a series of proposed bonds, dominated Wednesday night’s bimonthly meeting of the Red Bank council.

The governing body also moved toward the creation of a new $90,000-a-year job at borough hall: information technology director.

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SEA BRIGHT: TAXES, FIREHOUSE PACK COUNCIL

sb council 080514 1Mayor Dina Long, center above, helped move tables to accommodate an overflow crowd Tuesday night. John Lamia, below, was sworn to fill the unexpired term of Read Murphy. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

john lamia 080514A boatload of critical issues came crashing ashore in Sea Bright Tuesday night, as officials and residents wrestled with soaring taxes, where to put a Sandy-wrecked firehouse and more.

Dozens of residents packed a bimonthly borough council with their concerns: a bulkhead ordinance that would require some property owners to raise the level of protection adjoining their homes along the Shrewsbury River; a plan to build a 150-foot tall cell tower just feet from the ocean beach behind borough hall; the timing of repairs to the seawall.

Two matters in particular drew concerted heat: a proposal to rent land for use as a temporary fire station from a former mayor in arrears on taxes, and a 10-percent increase in tax bills, reflecting a whopping 17-percent increase to cover the cost of sending borough kids to Shore Regional High School in West Long Branch.

That one, and other issues, reflected longstanding frustrations.

“Twenty-five years ago, when I first came on the council – it was a subject then,” said Councilman Jack Keeler. “It hasn’t changed.”

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RED BANK: COUNCIL OKS HYBRID BULKHEAD

elijah nishiura 072314Red Bank Regional sophomore Elijah Nishiura, center, chats with Environmental Commission chairwoman Laura Bagwell, left, and Carl Alderson, a marine resources specialist at NOAA, after the council voted to restore the rotting library bulkhead, below.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb lib bulkhead 2 071013A hotly opposed proposal to rebuild the bulkhead at the Red Bank Public Library won approval from the borough council Wednesday night, though the new structure may now incorporate elements of a so-called living shoreline favored by environmentalists.

Then again, the matter could be headed to court if the hybrid approach fails appease the library’s next-door neighbors, whose lawyer continued to imply that he’d sue if anything less than an abrupt wall along the library’s Navesink River frontage is constructed.

“The merits of the living shoreline are neither here nor there,” Michael Vitiello, the attorney for the Corinthian Cove condos, told the council before it voted on the issue. “My clients feel that if you remove the bulkhead… we are no longer going to have lateral support for our earth.”

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RED BANK: BULKHEAD REBUILD ON AGENDA

rb lib bulkhead 4 071013Borough residents are on the hook for replacing the library bulkhead, at right, where environmentalists argue a natural shoreline should be restored.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Its scientists and policy experts may be thought leaders on issues of global warming and ways to head it off. But on the matter of the Navesink River bulkhead at the Red Bank Public Library, Harvard University can’t be bothered to speak, it appears.

Harvard’s continued silence almost a year after Mayor Pasquale Menna reached out to the university for help on a legal issue is about to cost Red Bank taxpayers and, environmentalists contend, result in a wrongheaded fix along the shoreline.

A controversial plan to rebuild the crumbling bulkhead, rather than allow for the restoration of a natural shoreline, is expected to move ahead Wednesday night.

It’s time for “finality” on the issue, which involves insurance and liability issues as well as environmental ones, Menna told redbankgreen Monday.

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RED BANK: BULKHEAD, BELLHAVEN DEBATED

rb bulkhead 041314The council approved a bond to pay for a bulkhead to halt erosion at North Prospect Avenue, above. A change to another bond, for a possible spray park at Bellhaven Natural Area, below, drew criticism. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

bellhaven-parkNot for the first time and almost certainly not for the last, Red Bankers picked over a pair of big-ticket projects at Wednesday night’s council meeting.

One was a bond ordinance council members were in a hurry to approve in order to save two Navesink River yards from severe erosion.

The other: A possible spray park at Bellhaven Natural Area that has pitted environmental activists against West Siders desperate for a playground.

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RED BANK: LIVING SHORELINE WINS REPRIEVE

The crumbling library bulkhead, above right, abuts that of the Corinthian Cove condos, at left. Below, resident Tom Labetti of Elm Place makes a point during the public hearing. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By SARAH KLEPNER

The tide turned abruptly on the Red Bank Eisner Memorial Library bulkhead issue Wednesday.

A $600,000 bond ordinance to pay for a new bulkhead at the site, and one at another Navesink River property, was tabled at the eleventh hour, after having appeared headed to certain approval.

The tabling followed defections by two councilmembers, Kathy Horgan and Ed Zipprich, who said they would side with environmentalists and residents who called for a “living,” or structure-free, shoreline.

“I think we need to explore the issue more,” Horgan said. “During the superstorm, any living shoreline had very little damage and self-repaired itself very quickly.” She also noted that  the Stevens Institute of Technology and the American Littoral Society had previously offered to create the natural shoreline, at no cost to the borough.

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RED BANK PLANS $600K BULKHEAD BOND

Borough officials maintain the language of a 1937 deed requires that the existing bulkhead be maintained. (File photo. Click to enlarge)

By SARAH KLEPNER

Though there’s a dirt-cheap alternative that would never need repairs, Red Bank officials plan to spend nearly $600,000 to replace two decrepit Navesink River bulkheads, including one at the public library.

The first hearing on a $596,000 bond ordinance to cover the costs of the work is scheduled for Wednesday night’s council meeting.

The move has been opposed for two years by environmentalists, who have urged elected officials to instead allow for a natural, “living” shoreline to reestablish itself at the library site, on West Front Street.

“It’s so disappointing,” said Kathleen Gasienica. “You can’t get grants for bulkheads, but there are plenty of grants for a living shoreline,” which relies on the stabilizing effects of plant life to minimize erosion.

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‘LIVING SHORELINE’ SWAMPED BY LEGAL ISSUE

The foot of Prospect Avenue, where Red Bank plans to rebuild a deteriorated bulkhead, as seen last December. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank officials consider the idea of a “living shoreline” at the borough library a non-starter, and plan to seek grant money to replace a riverfront bulkhead there and at two other locations.

One day after borough officials described what they said is an insurmountable legal hurdle to the more eco-friendly solution favored by the American Littoral Society and other environmentalists, Administrator Stanley Sickels said the library property would get a new, impermeable bulkhead, as would an adjoining borough-owned parcel and one at the river end of Prospect Avenue.

“So you’re going to bulkhead the library, but you’re also going to bulkhead 94 West Front?” activist Cindy Burnham asked Sickels at Wednesday night’s council meeting, referring to a vacant borough-owned parcel that abuts the library site.

“We haven’t finalized plans, but I believe it would be prudent to do the library, 94 and Prospect Avenue all at once,” Sickels responded. “If we didn’t consider [a natural shoreline replacement] at the library, we wouldn’t consider it at 94.”

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BULKHEAD PROJECT MAY HINGE ON DEED

Environmentalists want to replace this old wooden bulkhead with a graded, natural one to help preserve wildlife. Below, Tim Dillingham of the American Littoral Society addresses Red Bank’s Environmental Commission Tuesday night. (Photo below by Connor Soltas. Click to enlarge)

By CONNOR SOLTAS

An effort to do away with the dilapidated riverfont bulkhead at the Red Bank Public Library and let it go natural appeared to get washed aside Tuesday night when borough officials raised a legal issue.

Turns out that the 1937 deed that transferred the former Eisner family home to the borough for use by the library requires the town to keep the bulkhead “in good repair,”officials said at a meeting of the Environmental Commission.

Because the deed did not explicitly permit replacing the bulkhead with a more eco-friendly option, the borough may only rebuild the bulkhead, instead of replacing it with a “natural shoreline” favored by environmental advocates, borough attorney Dan O’Hern and administrator Stanley Sickels said Tuesday night.

“The governing body’s action should be to repair it as required by the deed,” said O’Hern. “It’s as simple as that.”

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A GREEN DOUBLE-DIP

hot-topic rightBy DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It’ll be an environmental double feature in Red Bank at the end of the month.

The borough’s environmental commission and its subcommittee, the Green Team, will run back-to-back talks on environmental issues on April 28.

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RED BANK, TEAR DOWN THIS WALL

lib-bulkheadThe American Littoral Society would like to replace this old wooden bulkhead with a graded, natural one to help preserve wildlife. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The bulkhead — a battered wooden wall meant to protect the Red Bank Public Library‘s backyard from the Navesink River — is, without question, in need of repair.

What the fix should be is the question.

The American Littoral Society has a suggestion: tear it down and put in a more natural bulkhead, one that will better serve the shorehline ecosystem.

The environmental group earlier this week pitched the idea, which hasn’t been tried in this area, to the borough council.

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