RED BANK: BELLHAVEN MAKEOVER IN SIGHT

christine ballard red bank nj bellhavenConsulting engineer Christine Ballard details the Bellhaven plan for the council last week. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

After years of revisions, and no small amount of controversy, changes to the Bellhaven Natural Area in Red Bank could be completed by this summer, officials said last week.

Once again, the project has been scaled-back from a version of a plan that called for a spray park and triggered loud protests four years ago, they said.

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RED BANK: BELLHAVEN PLAN SCALED BACK

Trees were taken down recently at Bellhaven Natural Area in preparation for an observation deck being built there, according to Business Administrator Ziad Shehady. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank officials have quietly started prep work for a project at a site once mired in controversy: the Bellhaven Natural Area overlooking the Swimming River.

The end result, however will be a “scaled-back” version of a plan that once called for a spray park and triggered loud protests three years ago.

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RED BANK: SUNSET PARK CONCEPT TO DEBUT

The so-called Sunset Park concept plan includes a soccer field, riverfront boardwalk, kayak launch and other amenities. (Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank residents will get their first look Monday night at a concept plan for a new park on the town’s long-closed landfill site overlooking the Swimming River.

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RED BANK: NEW BELLHAVEN PLAN WINS PRAISE

The new concept plan for Bellhaven Natural Area includes an observation deck, similar to the one shown for illustration purposes above left; playground equipment; and a play area covered with a rubberized safety surface, shown in light green. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Two years after residents gave a thorough hosing to a plan for a spray park in a West Side wetlands, Red Bank officials unveiled a new plan for the Bellhaven Natural Area Wednesday night.

This one got a warmer reception.

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RED BANK: NEW STINK OVER BELLHAVEN COSTS

A 2012 image outlines the extent of wetlands at Bellhaven Natural Area at the western terminus of Locust Avenue. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Two years after abandoning a controversial “sprayground” proposed for the Bellhaven Natural Area, the Red Bank borough council is moving ahead with plans for a playground at the site.

At its semimonthly meeting Wednesday night, the council approved nearly $20,000 in additional engineering costs for the site, a move that prompted fresh objections.

“This is deja vu all over again,” said Bill Meyer, owner of a downtown commercial building. The borough has already spent $73,000  engineering fees on the site, and “that money was burned and wasted,” he said. Read More »

RED BANK: RESIDENTS RESIST DUMP-SITE PARK

The audience at the Celestial Lodge Friday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank residents delivered a message to borough officials Friday night about a new park proposed at the town’s long-closed landfill site: not everyone wants it.

At a town-hall-style meeting held at the Celestial Lodge #36 on Drs. James Parker Boulevard, area residents expressed concerns that the dump might never be made safe for public use.

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RED BANK: PLANTING SEEDS FOR FUTURE PARK

A map showing the extended former landfill site outlined in green. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

We need a skatepark. We need a playgrounds for West Side kids. We need to remember that this is a neighborhood that can’t handle throngs of out-of-town visitors.

Red Bank residents offered those and other suggestions as the process of shaping a new waterfront park out of the former town dump got underway with a community brainstorming session last Thursday night.

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RED BANK: DEMOCRATS REASSERT CONTROL

yvonne-erik-yngstrom-010116Erik Yngstrom embraces his mother, Yvonne Yngstrom, after giving his oath as councilman. Below, Kathy Horgan began her fourth term on the council and was elected its president. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

kathy-horgan-010117Red Bank’s first Republican majority in a generation ended after just a year Sunday, when Democrats regained control of the borough council.

With the addition of political newcomer Erik Yngstrom to the governing body, the Democrats now share 3-3 parity with the GOP on the council. But with the support of three-term Mayor Pasquale Menna as the tiebreaker to any potential deadlock, the Democrats wasted no time in doling out key jobs to partisans.

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RED BANK: GOP SHAKES UP TOWN HALL

mike whelan 010216 2Mike Whelan, 24, at his swearing in as Red Bank councilman. Below, Whelan running mate Mark Taylor. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

[Correction: The original version of this story misreported the name of the borough prosecutor who was replaced Saturday.]

By JOHN T. WARD

mark taylor 010216 1The first Republican majority in a generation showed up at Red Bank borough hall Saturday with a broom.

Ousted were:

• Borough engineer Christine Ballard, of T&M Associates of Middletown, replaced by Bill White of borough-based Maser Consulting.

• Borough Attorney Dan O’Hern, the son of a former mayor, who was replaced by Jean Cipriani, a lawyer with a Toms River firm headed by the chairman of the Ocean County GOP.

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RED BANK: WELL ADVANCES; T&M MAY NOT

rb water plant 102215Borough Administrator Stanley Sickels, center, and DPU supervisor Bob Holiday check out construction on a lime feeder room at the DPU complex on Chestnut Street in October. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Working against a ticking clock, Red Bank’s engineering consultant got the go-ahead Monday night to design a new backup supply well for the borough-owned water utility at the Chestnut Street public works complex.

But the $82,500 contract was authorized amid rumblings that it may be among the last granted to T&M Associates under the Democratic majority that has controlled the borough council for a generation.

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BUILDING THE RANKS OF FEMALE ENGINEERS

jacki flor 041814Jacki Flor on the site of the Sea Bright municipal parking lot reconstruction, which she’s overseeing, and Christine Ballard, giving a presentation in Red Bank below, say their interest in solving mechanical problems was nurtured when they were girls. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

c ballard 52609Of the 565 towns and cities in New Jersey, only 19 have female municipal engineers. And two of them serve towns on the Green: Christine Ballard in Red Bank, and Jaclyn Flor, in Sea Bright.

Municipal engineers are the brains behind public infrastructure, designing everything from crosswalks to sewer lift stations. They pursue grants to pay for ballfields and bulkheads. And they serve as emissaries, navigating the often choppy waters between zoning board applicants, contractors, elected officials and taxpayers.

In that realm, a woman’s point of view and way of communicating can often be helpful, Ballard said.

“There have been a lot of men doing this for a long time, and I’m sure they did it well,” she told redbankgreen. But “there’s been a wonderful transition to women in government,” and it turns out that other women are “sometimes better at translating projects, and why we need to spend a million dollars to fix the water plant,” to diverse constituencies, she said.

In fact, the broader field of engineering could use many more women, which is why the American Association of University Women and the Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore are putting on an event at Brookdale Community College on Saturday to encourage girls to consider careers as engineers.

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BATTLE OVER HOTEL HEIGHT DRAGS ON

A planned six-story hotel at the longtime site of an Exxon station is the subject of a hearings at both the planning and zoning boards.   (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

An opponent of a planned hotel at the foot of the Route 35 Cooper’s Bridge made his fullest case yet Thursday night that the building violates Red Bank’s height limits.

But after two slow-moving, trial-like hearings before the town zoning board, the lawyer for the hotel has barely begun to put on his defense, and no resolution of the dispute is likely for at least another month.

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MYSTERY HAMPTON INN PLAN OPPONENT ID’D

Lawyer Ron Gasiorowski, left, said the owners of a Tinton Falls hotel have been paying his fees for representing Hampton Inn opponent Stephen Mitchell, right. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

After months of secrecy, the lawyer for the most vocal opponent of a proposed Hampton Inn in Red Bank has identified the moneybags paying for his services.

They’re the operators of the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel on Hope Road in Tinton Falls.

Attorney Ron Gasiorowski ended his cat-and-mouse game over Stephen Mitchell’s backing Thursday night, when he told the borough zoning board that brothers Carey and Doran Tejfal of Tinton Falls Realty Lodging were picking up the tab for his services.

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BELLHAVEN PARK NEEDS TLC

bellhaven-parkRed Bank officials are seeking funds for the Bellhaven Park nature area on Locust Avenue. Below, a map from the 2006 waterfront plan. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

swimming-riverBellhaven Park, an oft-overlooked waterfront parcel in Red Bank’s inventory of natural areas, could use a little help — any kind of help, says borough Engineer Christine Ballard.

Sequestered away from the public eye at the western end of Locust Avenue, it’s never gotten the kind of use or attention from residents that other parks see. Now, general neglect at the park, designated as a passive natural area, has led it to become a little bit too natural, said Mayor Pasquale Menna.

The Swimming River has swallowed up at least half of a floating dock at the park, and the heavy brush of native and invasive species has made some winding paths almost impassable.

“It’s like a jungle down there,” Menna said. “It needs to be accessible and safer. Even our own (police) patrols can’t even go in there because of the overgrowth.”

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WATER MAIN FIX SLATED FOR SEPTEMBER

sbury-hydrantWork on an old water main below Shrewsbury Avenue is expected to begin after Labor Day. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

An overdue upgrade to boost water pressure to homes and businesses along Shrewsbury Avenue is expected to start in September, says Red Bank Engineer Christine Ballard.

On Wednesday, the borough council awarded a $524,206 contract to a Long Branch company to replace the outdated four-inch water main beneath the bustling corridor with an eight-inch line.

“We’ll start work probably after Labor Day,” Ballard said.

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BIKE AND PED SAFETY PLAN ROLLS ON

willis-rossanoJenny Rossano reviews the soon-to-be-adopted bike and pedestrian plan in Red Bank, while Jim Willis, in the background, views it on an iPad. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

When a group of residents banded together almost two years ago to make Red Bank’s streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, there were never any notions it’d be a fast-moving process. Compiling data, analyzing studies and working with local and state government simply don’t lend themselves to timeliness.

But in the long-distance course to effect change, a grassroots group made a leap forward Monday night when it all but secured adoption from the borough planning board of a 100-plus page report on bike and walker safety, including a multitude of recommendations on how to improve the way of life of those on two legs and two wheels.

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PARKING PERMITS MAY BE NEEDED AT COVE

maple-cove-lot1Workers had installed curbs at the Maple Cove parking area by midday Friday, and plan to repave it. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

park_it_021Free parking may soon be a thing of the past at Maple Cove, Red Bank’s popular free launch for kayaks, canoes and rowing shells.

The borough, which is repaving a parking area at the site, may reinstate permit parking there, borough Administrator Stanley Sickels tells redbankgreen.

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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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RED BANK, OTHERS SECURE STREET AID

peters-plPeters Place is one of two borough streets targeted for improvements. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Red Bank is among four towns on The Green to pull in a share of $6.6 million in state dollars for street and safety improvement projects, the Department of Transportation announced earlier this week.

The borough will use the $200,000 in municipal aid for upgrades on Peters and Drummond Place, two main cut-throughs for motorists traveling on Broad Street and Maple Avenue, said borough enginer Christine Ballard.

But exactly what those improvements will include isn’t clear at this point, Ballard said.

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WITH TURF JOB DONE, RED BANK WANTS MORE

basie-renderRed Bank is going after  grant money to fund more upgrades at Count Basie Field. Above, a rendering for a baseball and field hockey/soccer field. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Now that work is done at Count Basie’s football field, Red Bank is looking for more money for more turf.

The borough is submitting an Open Space grant application to Monmouth County, looking for up to $250,000, to lay down turf for a baseball and “multi-use” field.

“It will really give us a lot more flexibility,” borough engineer Christine Ballard said.

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