RED BANK: CHARTER FOES CLAIM BROAD BASE

rbms 121715 1A rally at the Red Bank Middle School last December, shortly after the charter school announced its proposed expansion plan, drew a standing-room-only crowd. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Who’s behind the Civil Rights complaint against the Red Bank Charter School filed with the Justice Department earlier this week?

According to charter school Superintendent Meredith Pennotti, it’s a “small group that seems bent on further dividing the community” with a complaint that she called “meritless.”

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RED BANK: GROUPS SEEK FEDS PROBE OF CHARTER SCHOOL FOR STUDENT ‘SEGREGATION’

rbcs graduation 061516 1Charter school Superintendent Meredith Pennotti speaking at the school’s eighth-grade graduation ceremony in Riverside Gardens Park in June. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

[NOTE: This post was updated to include a prepared statement from charter school Superintendent Pennotti.]

By JOHN T. WARD

just_in1A group of parents and Latino rights advocates have asked the federal Justice Department to “investigate and ultimately remedy” enrollment and funding practices at the Red Bank Charter School that they claim make the borough’s public schools the “most segregated” in New Jersey.

In documents released Tuesday, the Latino Coalition of New Jersey and the newly formed Fair Schools Red Bank claim the school and the administration of Governor Chris Christie have violated the civil rights of borough students by failing to address ethnic, socio-econonic and fiscal disparities between the charter school and the public school district from which it was carved out 18 years ago.

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RED BANK: FORTUNE HOUSE’S GOOD FORTUNE

mumford fortune 072716 1Developer Roger Mumford leads high school journalism students on a tour of the Fortune House. Below, Mumford with preservationist Gilda Rogers. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

gilda rogers roger mumford 072716

Less than a week after the Red Bank zoning board approved a plan to save it, the still-crumbling T. Thomas Fortune House offered a preview Wednesday of its anticipated role: as a cultural and educational center.

About a dozen high school students from around New Jersey took an exterior tour of the onetime home of pioneering civil rights journalist, who lived in it for a decade starting in 1901 and entertained the leading lights of black culture there. In the process, they also got a lesson in how the interests of preservationists and profit-minded developers might converge.

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RED BANK: FORTUNE HOUSE RESCUE PLAN OK’D

ROGER MUMFORD 072116 1Developer Roger Mumford with an architect’s rendering of the T. Thomas Fortune house as it would appear after restoration. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

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A decade-long effort to save an endangered artifact of African-American history cleared a major milestone Thursday night when the Red Bank zoning board approved a developer’s plan to rebuild the T. Thomas Fortune house and create 31 apartments on its one-acre property.

Borough-based homebuilder Roger Mumford, who vowed to restore and donate the house for use as a cultural center before he would seek certificates of occupancy for the apartments, was hailed as the last-chance savior of a vital relic of the civil rights movement that its current owners want to raze. Residents told the board before its vote that Mumford deserved the tradeoff of more than a dozen variances, most of them arising from the apartment plan.

“If a development project has ever given back to the community, it’s this one,” said Kalman Pipo, a member of the borough’s Historic Preservation Commission. “If this project doesn’t go through, we are going to lose this house” to the wrecking ball, he said.

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RED BANK: FORTUNE HOUSE PLAN SCHEDULED

rb fortune house 100614 3Fortune future 062816Developer Roger Mumford‘s plan to save the dilapidated T. Thomas Fortune house on Drs. James Parker Boulevard in Red Bank faces its first test this week.

The proposal, which is backed by a volunteer group hoping to preserve the pioneering civil rights journalist’s home, calls for restoring the National Historic Register structure for use as a cultural center devoted to preserving African American history and serving as a resource for social justice initiatives. The plan, dubbed “Fortune Square,” also includes a 32-unit apartment building proposed for the rear of the property. Multiple variances are required.

The hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at borough hall, 90 Monmouth Street. Here’s the agenda: RBZB agenda 072116 (Click to enlarge)

 

RED BANK: A VIGIL FOR VICTIMS, AND PEACE

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Children carried three bouquets of flowers — one for the five police officers slain in Dallas last week, one for victims of senseless violence, and one for “peace in our hearts and our country,” in the words of Mayor Pasquale Menna — at a vigil in Red Bank Sunday night.

About 40 residents, local clergy and a contingent of borough police officers participated in the brief ceremony, held at the Veterans Memorial on Monmouth Street at Drummond Place. 

Additional photos are below. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge) Read More »

RED BANK: MENNA CALLS FOR TOWN VIGIL

rb vigil 061616 10HOT-TOPIC_03Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna is calling on area residents to participate in a silent vigil Sunday evening for the five law enforcement officers slain in Dallas Thursday “and for civilian victims of violence in our country,” he said in an alert distributed Saturday.

Participants are asked to gather at 7 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial, at the corner of Monmouth Street and Drummond Place. Three wreaths will be on display, Menna said: one for the officers killed, one for victims of senseless violence, and one for “peace in our hearts and our country.”

Attendees may leave flowers at the site. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: BUILDER EYES FORTUNE HOUSE SITE

Fortune future 062816The home of pioneering human rights journalist T. Thomas Fortune would be restored for use as a cultural center, as shown in the architectural rendering above. Below, four views of the four-story, 32-unit apartment building proposed for the rear of the property.  (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

fortune square apartments 062816After years of efforts by volunteer historians to halt decades of decay, an historic Red Bank residence may be spared the wrecking ball.

Developer Roger Mumford has proposed restoring what he calls the “highly deteriorated” T. Thomas Fortune house on Drs. James Parker Boulevard and turning it into a cultural center.

Mumford’s plan comes with a catch: he wants the town to grant him a host of variances to construct 32 apartments on the site — more than twice the density allowed by zoning law. But he’s billing it as a win for all involved.

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RED BANK: SECOND VIGIL HONORS VICTIMS

rb vigil 061616 2rb vigil 061616 1As participants present lit a candle from a single flame at a vigil in Red Bank Thursday night, Pastor Terrence K. Porter of Pilgrim Baptist Church urged each of them to think of a single victim of  Sunday’s Orlando nightclub attack, America’s bloodiest-ever mass shooting.

“The candle you light is a reflection of that image in your mind,” he said.

The memorial service, held at Johnny Jazz Park on Drs. Parker Boulevard, was the second such service in town in two nights, and was organized by the West Side Ministerial Alliance and other other religious groups. Additional photos are below. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

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RED BANK: VIGIL CALLS FOR LOVE, GUN LAWS

rb vigil 061516 6rb vigil 061516 2Dozens of Red Bank area residents gathered for a candlelight vigil in memory of the victims the nightclub attack that took place in Orlando, Florida early Sunday morning, in which 49 were killed and 53 wounded in America’s bloodiest-ever mass shooting.

Several speakers, including Rabbi Marc Kline, of the Monmouth Reform Temple in Tinton Falls, called for tighter gun laws. “We need to do more than mourn and grieve,” he told the gathering, held outside Red Bank’s borough hall on Monmouth Street. A later reference to a Senate filibuster then underway for gun-law reform drew strong applause.

Additional photos may be seen below.

A second vigil, organized by the West Side Ministerial Alliance and other other religious groups, is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. today at Johnny Jazz Park, corner of Drs. Parker Boulevard and Shrewsbury Avenue in Red Bank. For further information, call 732-747-2343. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

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RED BANK: VIGIL FOR PULSE VICTIMS PLANNED

rb vigil 062415 16HOT-TOPIC_03As they did in response to the murders of nine churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina last year, Red Bank residents and others will gather again this week to mourn.

Mayor Pasquale Menna has called for a community-wide candlelight vigil “in remembrance of the victims in the senseless nightclub attack” that took place in Orlando, Florida early Sunday morning, in which 49 were killed and 53 wounded in America’s bloodiest-ever mass shooting.

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RED BANK: STATE BIDS FOR FORTUNE HOUSE

rb fortune house 100614 1The home of pioneering human rights journalist T. Thomas Fortune has been vacant for many years. Below, an undated photo of Fortune, who owned it from 1901 to 1911.  (Photo above by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

T. Thomas FortuneThe state of New Jersey has thrown its support behind efforts to save a historic Red Bank structure by offering to acquire it, redbankgreen has learned.

Two members of the borough Historic Preservation Committee said the state Department of Environmental Protection, though its Green Acres program, has made a purchase offer to the owners of the crumbling T. Thomas Fortune house on Drs. James Parker Boulevard.

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RED BANK: LIGHTING THE NIGHT AGAINST HATE

rb vigil 062415 13 rb vigil 062415 5Several hundred participants gathered on Red Bank’s West Side Wednesday night for a vigil in response to the murders of nine churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina last week.

Beginning with a march from Pilgrim Baptist Church to Ralph ‘Johnny Jazz’ Park, participants sang and heard calls for an end to violence from a handful of local church leaders. And in the final moments, they shared the flame of a “unity candle.”

Click “read more” below for full photo coverage. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

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RED BANK: ANTIHATE MARCH & VIGIL PLANNED

PILGRIM baptistIn response to the murders of nine churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina last week, Red Bank’s Pilgrim Baptist Church is organizing an anti-hate, anti-violence march and candlelight vigil Tuesday night.

The march will begin at 8 p.m. at the church, at 172 Shrewsbury Avenue, and head to Ralph ‘Johnny Jazz’ Park at the corner of Drs. James Parker Boulevard for the vigil. In the event of rain, the vigil will be held in the church sanctuary.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: NYTIMES NOTES FORTUNE EFFORT

rb fortune house 2 061213Timothy_Thomas_FortuneSunday’s edition of the New York Times includes an article on the divergent fates of two historic New Jersey homes, one of them the Red Bank abode of early 20th-century civil rights journalist T. Thomas Fortune.

Fortune’s house, on Dr. James Parker Boulevard, is the subject of an effort by the nonprofit T. Thomas Fortune Project to save it from demolition and turn it into a cultural center. At right, an undated photo of Fortune.  (Photo above by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

 

 

RED BANK: $100K PLEDGE FOR FORTUNE HOUSE

rb fortune house 2 061213A volunteer group hopes to acquire the onetime home of pioneering human rights journalist T. Thomas Fortune for use as a cultural center. Below, an undated photo of Fortune.  (Photo above by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Timothy_Thomas_FortuneA slow-building effort launched eight years ago to save a historic Red Bank structure from the wrecking ball has gotten a jolt of adrenaline.

A donor has pledged $100,000 to the effort to acquire and revitalize the onetime home of pioneering African-American journalist T. Thomas Fortune, redbankgreen has learned.

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RED BANK: DEMOLITION HITS FIRST POTHOLE

rb fortune house 2 061213The house, at 94 Drs. Parker Boulevard, was once the home of African American journalist T. Thomas Fortune. Below, a detail of the soffit. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb fortune house 1 061213The owners of Red Bank’s T. Thomas Fortune house ran into the first obstacle Thursday in their controversial quest to raze the historic structure.

Borough planning director Donna Smith-Barr found the Vaccarelli family’s application for a demolition permit incomplete, and kicked it back for more information, she tells redbankgreen.

In itself, the decision itself may barely slow the Vaccarelli’s plan for a decrepit structure that once was the home of the pioneering civil rights journalist Timothy Thomas Fortune. But the request could also face the hurdle of a zoning board review, Mayor Pasquale Menna tells redbankgreen. And the leader of a year-old group formed to save the structure said he is prepared to sue to stop the demolition, if necessary.

“The attorneys I have can have it stayed for 18 months,” said Peter Primavera, director of the T. Thomas Fortune Project. “We’re doing the paperwork right now.”

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RED BANK: FORTUNE HOUSE MAY BE RAZED

The house, at 94 Drs. Parker Boulevard, was once the home of African American journalist T. Thomas Fortune. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A day that Red Bank historic preservationists have dreaded for years appears nearer as the owners of the so-called T. Thomas Fortune house have filed a formal request to demolish the historic structure.

Eighty-six-year-old James Vaccarrelli of Shrewsbury, who owned the house with his brother Anthony, filed for a demolition permit from the borough last Friday afternoon, borough planning director Donna Smith-Barr tells redbankgreen.

Anthony Vaccarelli, 93, died at his Red Bank home last month, according to an obituary published by the Asbury Park Press. James tells redbankgreen that the move was anticipated prior to his brother’s death, as efforts to sell the property in recent years have failed because of the deteriorated condition of the house.

“There’s nothing to save,” said Vaccarelli, who was born and raised in the house, at 94 Drs. James Parker Boulevard. “It’s a shame, but vandals got into it many, many times, even though it was boarded up, and they just wrecked it.”

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RED BANK: SEEKING EQUALITY, THEN AND NOW

rb equality 021014 2On the panel were longtime housing advocate Flo Apy, at left above; former borough Councilwoman Sharon Lee; and Monmouth University history professor Walter Greason. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

rb equality 021014 1Dozens of listeners turned out at the Bates Lodge in Red Bank Monday night for a panel discussion on the continuing struggle for racial equality in America.

With its mixed neighborhoods and ownership of businesses by African-Americans, “Red Bank in the 1950s was a hallmark of what was possible in terms of integration,” said Monmouth University history professor Walter Greason, one of three panelists.

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