RED BANK: BACKUP WATER SUPPLY ON TABLE

rb water well 102215 1Construction underway last month on a lime feeder room at the DPU complex on Chestnut Street. The new well would be to located at the building’s far corner. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Red Bank may soon be getting a new water source, though officials hope not to need it.

The borough council has scheduled a single-issue special meeting Monday night to consider whether to authorize its engineering consultant, T&M Associates, to draw up plans for a new, 750-foot well at the Chestnut Street public utilities complex.

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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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SEA BRIGHT: CHRISTIE PLEDGES SEAWALL FIX

sb seawall 051114Sea Bright will get $8.5 million from the state to repair and fill gaps in its seawall, adding protection from future storms for the downtown, Governor Chris Christie said in a visit to the borough Thursday, according to NJ.com. Financed by the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Shore Protection Fund, the project is scheduled to go out to bid later this year, with construction slated to begin next spring or early next summer, Christie said. Above, a portion of the barrier as it appeared in May. (Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: LANDFILL PARK STILL YEARS OFF

ballard 071614Engineer Christine Ballard, above, discusses sampling for toxic substances at the former landfill site. One result of the tests: new warning signs, below. (Above photo by John T. Ward; photo below by Brian Donohue. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb crab sign 071514Red Bank is on track with testing for toxic substances at its former landfill and incinerator, but the painstaking process is unlikely to yield new parkland within the next five years, the town’s engineer said Wednesday.

Meantime, one immediate upshot of tests at the 8.6-acre West Side site: new warnings about eating fish and crabs caught from the adjoining Swimming River.

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RED BANK: MAPLE COVE SAVED… FOR NOW?

rb rosi cove library 021214The placement of the proposed border between the library parking lot and adjoining riverfront property was a subject of debate, but all of Maple Cove will remain on the open space inventory. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The battle to save the cove is over, apparently.

The Red Bank borough council officially abandoned a plan to remove Maple Cove and a nearby riverfront property from the town’s roster of open spaces Wednesday night.

The unanimous move appears to close the book on a controversial issue that helped vault activist Cindy Burnham onto the governing body in the last election.

Not that it can’t be undone, says Burnham, the lone Republican on the six-member council.

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‘ZERO LEAKS’ AS ICE DAMAGES FUEL STATION

Bahr's gas 020914 3Contractors remove damaged gasoline dispensers at Bahr’s Landing on Sunday. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

No gasoline or diesel fuel leaked into the Shrewsbury River and surrounding waterways when “a real nasty sheet of ice” damaged a boat-fueling dock at Bahr’s Landing Marina in Highlands last month, a representative of the owner tells redbankgreen.

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RED BANK: MAPLE COVE TO RETAIN SAFEGUARD

rbpl-maple-coveMaple Cove and the public library as seen in 2011. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Red Bank officials are abandoning a controversial plan to remove Maple Cove from the town’s inventory of preserved lands, the Asbury Park Press reports.

Instead, the borough council will ask the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to delist only a parking lot adjacent to the nearby public library, the Press reports.

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RED BANK: VOTE DELAYED ON RIVER SITES

maple-cove-lot1The Maple Cove parking lot during reconstruction in 2011. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Debate over how to classify parking lots at Red Bank’s Maple Cove and the nearby public library was put off for three weeks at Wednesday night’s borough council meeting.

Though the issue appeared on a draft of the meeting’s agenda, the possible delisting of the the two sites from the borough’s Recreation and Open Space Inventory, or ROSI, was removed early in the day.

The controversial issue was tabled until February 12 at the earliest, over the objections of newly installed Councilwoman Cindy Burnham, because a transcript of a three-hour public comment session held last month was not yet ready for review by the governing body, said Mayor Pasquale Menna.

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RED BANK: RIVER USERS SAY KEEP COVE LISTED

rb hearing 1 123013Borough Administrator Stanley Sickels, in foreground, listens during the comment portion of the hearing. Below, Michael Humphries of Fair Haven called for an alternative to the borough’s proposed delisting. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb hearing 2 123013Hoping to safeguard Red Bank’s only direct public access to the Navesink River, Maple Cove users and preservationists packed a meeting Monday night to combat a plan that would remove the site from the town’s inventory of preserved lands.

For more than three often-contentious hours, a standing-room audience challenged the borough rationale for the proposed delisting of two town-owned riverfront properties.

Their fear: that contrary to official assurances, the changes would clear the way for one or both sites to be sold for private development.

“The property is not being sold. It is not being turned into condos,” borough engineer Christine Ballard insisted at the outset.

Yet many of the commenters clearly weren’t buying that assertion.

“People feel it’s a first step to something nobody here wants,” Michael Humprhries, of Fair Haven, said of the proposed delisting. “There should be some way of satisfying the public that keeps that piece of property accessible.”

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RED BANK: BURNHAM STILL FIERCE ON COVE

rb parking 041713The parking lot at Maple Cove, as viewed from the library property on West Front Street. Below, Councilwoman-elect Cindy Burnham with borough Administrator Stanley Sickels at a recent fire department event. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

sickels burnham 120313Cindy Burnham may have broken the Democratic lock on Red Bank’s council, but she hasn’t abandoned the pet cause that got her there, or her style of defending it.

At several borough council meetings since winning election in November, Councilwoman-elect Burnham has stood at the commenters’ microphone and sparred with nearly all of her future colleagues on the governing body over the fate and history of Maple Cove, the town’s sole public Navesink River access. Burham is widely credited with having saved the site, at the north end of Maple Avenue, from possible development.

As she has for years, Burnham insists that the incumbents secretly want to sell the property to Hovnanian Enterprises, which owns abutting real estate. The latest evidence of the council’s intent, Burnham says, is the administration’s scheduling of a public forum on Monday, December 30, over whether to remove the site and another one at the public library from the town’s Recreation and Open Space Inventory, or ROSI.

One by one, as they have in the past, the Democrats insisted they do not, and – despite her repeated claims to the contrary – never have had plans to sell the site.

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LOCAL DRY CLEANER FINDS WETTER IS BETTER

laura dorf 1 101513Laura Dorf with Lucy, one of two dogs who spend their days at her environmentally safe laundry business, and below with presser Dana Holmes. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

laura dorf dana holmesFor most of her 25-plus years in the laundry business, Laura Dorf bought into the industry gospel that cleaning clothes with a toxic solvent was the only way to go.

So heavy was the industry’s reliance on perchlortethylene, or perc, and so strong its aversion to plain old soap and water that H20 was considered a contaminant, said Dorf.

That thinking, however, has turned out to be all wet, thanks to the development of new detergents and sophisticated machinery. And Dorf, the owner of Bright Star Cleaners on the Tinton Falls side of Shrewsbury Avenue, is now running what she said is the first all- “wet” dry cleaner in the Red Bank area.

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SEA BRIGHT: GROUP TO PAY ANCHORAGE TAB

The Anchorage Apartments, overlooking the Shrewsbury River, would be razed for a park under a DEP plan. (Click to enlarge)

By SARAH KLEPNER

Sea Bright’s borough council voted Thursday night to work with the state Department of Environmental Protection on turning the Anchorage Apartments into open space – after a group volunteered to make up for the town’s lost tax revenue.

The council made clear, though, that it would not support any parking on the property, which is located across Ocean Avenue from an ocean beach owned by the state and maintained by the borough. The governing body also insisted local control in its resolution of support, which is non-binding on the state.

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SEA BRIGHT: LOCALS SAY KEEP APARTMENTS

The Anchorage Apartments on the Shrewsbury River remain vacant eight months after Hurricane Sandy.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Sea Bright officials last week shot down a proposal to level a hurricane-ravaged apartment complex for a park after borough residents objected.

At issue was a resolution that that would give the state Department of Environmental Protection the borough’s support in its proposal to acquire the property at 960 Ocean Avenue – the Anchorage Apartment building – under the Green Acres program for an area of “high-public use” –  most likely, a park.

But despite the promise of greener pastures replacing an uninhabitable structure, residents turned out at last Tuesday night’s council meeting to blast the idea.

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SEA BRIGHT: DCA’S NUMBERS COME UP SHORT

A Sea Bright home as seen from the sea wall five days after Hurricane Sandy. Borough officials contend the number of severely damaged homes is being underestimated by a state agency. (Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Six months after Hurricane Sandy walloped the region, Sea Bright officials find themselves in a disagreement with a state agency over the financial impact of the storm.

The dispute, centered on newly released New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA)’s data on the extent of storm destruction in town, was one of a handful of post-Sandy issues that dominated Tuesday night’s council meeting.

“The DCA released some numbers that gave statistics from Sea Bright,” Mayor Dina Long told the audience, “and they said there were 574 homes with damage. Of those homes, 32 had major damage – damage between $8,000 and $28,000; and 63 homes suffered severe damage – over $28,000 worth of damage.

“Based on where I live, and what it cost to fix even my own house, I really feel like these numbers are not reflecting an on-the-ground truth,” she said.

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SEA BRIGHT: OCEAN AVENUE REOPENED

State Department of Transportation dumptrucks leaving Sea Bright at midday Monday after several days of sand removal work. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The northern stretch of Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright, closed to all but local traffic over the weekend because of seawall breaches, reopened Monday afternoon.

But damage to the wall caused by unusually high tides following last Wednesday’s snowstorm means that the borough may be holding its breath during similar weather events until the wall is repaired, Councilman Read Murphy tells redbankgreen.

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SEA BRIGHT: COUNCIL WAIVES PERMIT FEES

Members of the borough council at Tuesday night’s meeting. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Amid complaints by residents about unresolved insurance claims and other rebuilding delays, the Sea Bright borough council rolled out several measures aimed at getting them back into their homes with less hassle and cost Tuesday night.

Among the moves: a moratorium on construction permit fees for all work related to Hurricane Sandy-related rebuilding and repairs.

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SEA BRIGHT: EATING, REFLECTING AND RISING

Chris Wood, as seen in a video, above, and Mayor Dina Long, below, at Saturday night’s event, which raised $130,000 for Sea Bright Rising. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

A hotel in Long Branch was transformed into a showcase of the area’s best culinary talents Saturday night, courtesy of the charity organization Sea Bright Rising and the generosity of local vendors and restaurant owners.

Complete with a live band, charity auction and a video showcasing the relief effort, the sold-out gala, dubbed “The Big Beach Bash,” raised almost $130,000 for Sea Bright’s recovery from Hurricane Sandy, according to the charity group’s Facebook page.

But the real story of the event was perhaps best told by the restaurateurs and merchants whose tables lined the walls of the ballroom of the Ocean Place Resort and Spa. Many were Sea Bright business owners trying to help rebuild their broken beach community joined by owners from neighboring towns looking to lend a hand to friends in need.

Over the lively the noise and, redbankgreen spoke with some of these participating businesses, and here’s what they had to say:

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SEA BRIGHT: CHRISTIE TOUTS FOCUS ON BIZ

Joined by Mayor Dina Long and business owners, Governor Chris Christie unveiled a new cabinet-level office to focus on post-storm rebuilding efforts. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Governor Chris Christie came to Sea Bright Friday afternoon, making his second visit to the storm-ravaged community since Hurricane Sandy struck. But while his first visit was a gesture of support to the beachside borough, this trip was all business.

At a news conference in the borough firehouse, Christie stood in front of a signs from local businesses including Bain’s Hardware, Woody’s Oceanfront Grille and Sea Bright Pizza to announce and lay out plans to help businesses that were affected by the hurricane. These include, he said, the creation of a new cabinet-level position – the Office of Recovery and Rebuilding – and the formation of a business impact assessment group, designed to aid businesses on a personal level.

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SEA BRIGHT: BAIN’S IS BACK IN THE PAINT

Frank Bain working the phone and the computer in the freshly restored paint section of his hardware store. (Photos by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

The rebuilding process in Sea Bright took a big step forward this week when Ocean Avenue mainstay Bain’s Hardware reopened its doors to the public for the first time since Hurricane Sandy hit.

“We opened at noon on 12/12/12 – why go to some concert when you could come down here, right?” owner Frank Bain told redbankgreen Thursday in his newly renovated shop.

Less than seven weeks ago, Bain’s store and every piece of inventory inside of it was destroyed. Now, the half of the store that is currently open looks as though it was never touched by the storm.

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SECOND ‘MOUNTAIN’ PILES UP MEMORIES

A passerby eyes debris in the Anchorage Beach parking lot, above, while a mountain of it dominates the former Peninsula House lot, below. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Mount Sandy, meet Mount Refuse.

Though smaller in stature, the mountain of debris occupying in Sea Bright’s old Peninsula House parking lot on Ocean Avenue is just as scene-stealing and ominous as its sand counterpart, located just a stone’s throw away. This ever-growing pile, however, won’t have onlookers climbing it or posing for closeups anytime soon.

The refuse is the accumulated result of curbside trash pickups in this Hurricane Sandy-smashed town, where residents and business owners are early on in a restoration effort.

It stands, however briefly, as a jarring, visceral reminder of the storm’s reach over porches, through doors and windows, and into rooms and closets.

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SEA BRIGHT: AMID TEARS, GUARD ROLLS OUT

Sea Bright’s tent city was largely dismantled by Friday afternoon. Below, Governor Chris Christie speaking with National Guardsmen at the site on November 9. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

After six weeks of assisting displaced residents and first responders with everything from hot meals to extra clothes, Sea Bright’s tent city – created by the US National Guard – is leaving town.

Following a final community meal on Thursday,  National Guardsmen made their move out of the municipal parking lot around 10:30 a.m. Friday, according to Onofrio Moscato, head chef at neighboring restaurant, Woody’s Ocean Grille, Emotions were running high for the Guard as well as volunteers and residents, he said.

“The National Guard was escorted out by the Sea Bright firemen,” Moscato told redbankgreen. “They were hanging out of the windows and waving. It was a special send-off for them. Before they left, they all stood in line and made a final salute, kind of a sign that their mission here was over.”

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HOT DOG CART AND CHIC EATERY BACK IN BIZ

Hot dog seller Frances Rooney poses for a photo with admirers, including Councilwoman Peggy Bills, at right above. Below, Pat Trama in his restored restaurant. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

One of Sea Bright’s oldest food businesses reopened this week, and one of its newest was scheduled to do so Friday night, two signs that the storm-battered town is cooking up a recovery.

Frances Rooney, affectionately known as “Grandma Hot Dog,”  fired up the gas on her cart this week and was soon attracting lines of hungry and loyal customers.

“My son was the one who really encouraged me to come back out here and start serving people again – sooner rather than later,” she told redbankgreen, “He thought it would be a comforting sight for everyone to see me back in business, up on my feet.”

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RUMSON TEEN’S STORM VIDEO DRAWS TRAIN

A 33-minute video about Hurricane Sandy by a Rumson-Fair Haven Regional student caught the attention of the rock band Train, which will play an acoustic show in Sea Bright as a result, NJ.com reported Wednesday.

Sixteen-year-old Charlotte Nagy videotaped conditions in Sea Bright and Rumson before, during and after the October 29 storm, and folded the band’s music into her production. Now, the San Francisco-based band is planning to play a private show for residents, first responders and their families next week, with the performance to be aired on on VH1 Christmas Day, the website of the Star-Ledger reports.

The effort will spotlight the efforts of Sea Bright Rising, a nonprofit devoted to the general recovery of the town of Sea Bright and care for its residents in the interim.

From the story:

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SEA BRIGHT: BAIN’S PAINTS ITS OWN FUTURE

Frank Bain outside his Ocean Avenue hardware store, where all the inventory was destroyed in Hurricane Sandy. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

“This isn’t a competition,” said a stone-faced Frank Bain, when asked if his would be the first business to reopen in Sea Bright after Hurricane Sandy.

But checking in on recent activity at Bain’s Hardware, a visitor might conclude that not only was Bain in a race, but one that his life depended on winning.

One late afternoon last week, the Ocean Avenue storefront was a swarm of dust-encrusted laborers, some installing new subflooring even as others continued with interior demolition work. At one point, an impromptu crew, Bain included, picked up and hustled the pieces of a shattered street lamp from the sidewalk out front to the side of the building.

Make no mistake about it: Bain is in a major hurry. With no flood insurance and every item in his 65,000-SKU shop destroyed, his economic life hangs in the balance, he’s the first to admit. “Getting that register ringing again is paramount,” he told redbankgreen.

But he’s driven just as much, he said, by the importance of his store to other businesses and homeowners who themselves are faced with rebuilding challenges. “We are out here working so that we can get back on our feet and help this town as soon as humanly possible,” he said.

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SEA BRIGHT: ON TOP OF MOUNT SANDY

Rachel Pedersen and Carolyn Rigby on the Sea Bright sandpile, which attracts dog-walkers and other sightseers. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The beach clubs and bars may be temporarily gone, but Sea Bright appears to have a new, if temporary attraction: ‘Mount Sandy.’

Rising perhaps 40 feet above the ocean beach on which it was built, a giant pile of sand reclaimed from the storm-tossed borough’s streets has been luring sightseers willing to climb its soft face, rewarding them with a bird’s-eye view of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation.

Just yards away, in fact, is a another mountain rising, this one made of discarded appliances, furniture and building materials.

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