RED BANK: ELECTRICITY DEAL IN THE WORKS

red bank jcp&lJCP&L’s power distribution facility adjoining Mohawk Pond in Red Bank. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank njRed Bank officials are considering passage of a law that would automatically turn Jersey Central Power & Light customers in the borough into customers of another electricity provider unless they opt out.

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LITTLE SILVER: BAG & STRAW BAN PENDING

little silver plastic bagsThe Carvel store on Prospect Avenue would be the first in the chain to drop plastic straws and cups, says owner Jessica Newman. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank njWith a recycling problem taking hold across America, Little Silver appears set to become the first town on the Greater Red Bank Green to ban plastic straws and store bags.

An ordinance introduced last week has the reluctant support of local retailers, borough officials say.

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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: EATERIES SPOTLIGHT STRAWS

Kitch Organic on Leighton Avenue, above, is one of eight Red Bank restaurants participating in a monthlong effort to reduce the number of plastic drinking straws that don’t make it into the recycling stream.

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RED BANK: CHARTER SCHOOL EYES THE WORLD

Red Bank Charter School S students with Principal Meredith Pennotti on International Day.

Classrooms at Red Bank Charter School were transformed into disaster zones as students immersed themselves in a learning experience that combined performance art with history, culture, science and cuisine as part of the school’s annual International Day.

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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: WOMEN UNITE AGAINST (UNNAMED)

rb rally 012117 4Several hundred participants flowed into Riverside Gardens Park for the Greater Red Bank Women’s Initiative Rally Saturday.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb rally 012117 17One day after the start of a new administration in Washington, D.C., hundreds of protesters gathered in Red Bank’s Riverside Gardens Park to push back against its promised agenda.

But if the policies of newly inaugurated President Donald Trump were foremost on their minds, speaker after speaker at the event avoided mentioning him by name.

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RED BANK: BELLHAVEN SPLASH PAD SPUTTERS

bellhaven 110915An entrance to Bellhaven Natural Area on Locust Avenue. A proposed playground would be sited within the of loop the path shown above. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03A controversial plan for a spray park in Red Bank’s Bellhaven Natural Area has all but officially sputtered out.

The borough-owned riverfront lot at the western end of Locust Avenue is still envisioned as the site of a much-needed West Side playground, according to Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer, the governing body’s liaison to the parks and recreation department.

But a spray park or a splash pad that shoots jets of water skyward? That’s done, she tells redbankgreen.

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FAIR HAVEN: NEIGHBOR WANTS SHOW SNUFFED

fh day 4 061612They sure looked pretty, but last year’s fireworks showered Mary Ylangan’s yard and others with debris, some of which she brought to a council meeting last week. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

fh fireworks 050714 1Mary Ylangan knows she’s on a quest that, at first blush, may sound a bit like she’s against motherhood and apple pie.

She wants Fair Haven to scrap its annual fireworks show.

But having had her home enveloped in smoke and showered with hot fireworks debris, Ylangan – a mom – is lobbying the town to replace the show with something more environmentally friendly.

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RED BANK: HOW DID YOUR GARDEN GROW?

transition monmouth (2)Transition Monmouth organizer Sarah Klepner discusses local food with a group of gardeners at Earth Pizza.  (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

By JIM WILLIS

PIEHOLE logoWith winter edging nearer, a dozen or so area residents of the Green got together at Earth Pizza in Red Bank last week to discuss this past season’s gardening and brainstorm ways to encourage local food production and consumption.

During the discussion, organized by Transition Monmouth, participants shared their recent gardening experiences, noting what grew well and what didn’t.

Jonas Forssell of Red Bank, owner of an edible landscaping company, Ecologic Landscapes, noted that this year, Red Veined Sorrel was a standout.

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LITTLE SILVER PUTS OLD JUNK TO NEW USE

Participants in the e-waste drive dropped off loads of disused electronics for recycling or refurbishment. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Little Silver’s Environmental Commission collected more than two truckloads of outdated VCRs, personal computers and other things electronic at the town’s first-ever Environmental Day Saturday.

Held at the Woman’s Club of Little Silver, the daylong event feature an E-waste recycling collection. All the collected electronics are to be recycled or refurbished, with the refurbished computers going to create labs for schools and children in need, courtesy of non-profit organization Computers for Kids, according to commission member Susan Murray.

“We even had a one man pull up in a stretch-limo to drop off some of his old computers,” said fellow member Bonnie Akey. “Now that’s commitment.”

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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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