RED BANK: BUONA SERA, JIMMY JOHN’S OK’D

21 w front 082614The former Wayne’s Market on West Front Street is slated to open as a Jimmy John’s franchise owned by Gaslight Anthem bassist Alex Levine, at left below, and Matt Schaffert, right. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

levine schaffert 020116The owners of two Red Bank restaurants left Monday night’s planning board meeting with unanimous approvals, one to expand and the other to open.

Buona Sera, at Maple Avenue and Monmouth Street, won an OK for a plan for a 1,200-square foot addition that might accommodate up to 50 standing customers. And Jimmy John’s Deli, a sandwich franchise co-owned by a member of the rock band Gaslight Anthem, got a thumbs-up to open in the former Wayne’s Market space on West Front Street.

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RED BANK: CHARTER SCHOOL SLATES FORUM

135 MONMOUTH 121515 1
HOT-TOPIC_03
The Red Bank Charter School plans to hold an open forum and press conference on its controversial expansion plan Tuesday at 7 p.m., the school announced Sunday.

“The press conference will provide clarity on a recent application amendment, after which the forum will be opened for community comment,” according to a press release.

The event will be held at 135 Monmouth Street, above, a building in which the school recently leased space for a STEM lab and to accommodate the expansion, if approved by the New Jersey Department of Education. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: PANEL BLASTS ‘SEGREGATION’

rbcs 121515 3The 17-year-old charter school has said a weighted lottery that takes racial and economic factors into account would be used in the expansion. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The panel charged with a hurry-up examination of the proposed Red Bank Charter School expansion teed up the institution for segregation in its report, unveiled at a borough council meeting Wednesday night.

“According to New Jersey Department of Education enrollment data, Red Bank Borough is home to the most segregated school district in the state of New Jersey, with deep disparity” in racial makeup, primary language skills and economic backgrounds, the report said.

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RED BANK: PANEL TO AIR CHARTER ‘CONCERNS’

rbcs panel 012216 2A standing-room crowd filled the middle school auditorium for Friday night’s hearing on the charter school expansion. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03A panel commissioned to review the proposed expansion by the Red Bank Charter School is expected to express “concern” about the plan’s impact on borough taxpayers, Mayor Pasquale Menna told redbankgreen.

Menna, who appointed the so-called blue-ribbon commission and participated in its closed-door meeting Monday night, said the body’s report will also air misgivings about what he termed the “strong and overwhelming” disparity between the charter school and the local school district in terms of demographic makeup.

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RED BANK: PANEL GETS DISTRICT’S SIDE ONLY

rbcs panel 012216 1Members of the charter school review panel watched a video touting the district schools Friday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

[CORRECTION: The original version of this article misreported data displayed in a chart during Rumage’s presentation. The chart indicated that 40 percent of Red Bank Charter School students are economically disadvantaged, compared to 88 percent of district students, whereas redbankgreen mistakenly reported the charter school figure as 4 percent. Also, the corrected figure reflects only economically disadvantaged children, not include new English learners.]

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03With the first flakes of an anticipated blizzard falling outside, a hearing on a proposed enrollment expansion by the Red Bank Charter School was predictably one-sided Friday night.

As expected, charter school Principal Meredith Pennotti was a no-show, as were the school’s trustees, but not because of the weather. They issued a statement earlier in the day saying they were staying way because the panel that called the hurry-up session should take more time in order to conduct “an in-depth analysis without outside pressure.”

Less expected was district Superintendent Jared Rumage’s strongly worded attack of charter school data, which he said obscured its role in making Red Bank “the most segregated school system in New Jersey.”

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RED BANK: CHARTER PANEL HEARING STILL ON

meredith pennotti 012016 1Charter school Principal Meredith Pennotti said she won’t attend Friday’s hearing in part because of hostility directed at her at a recent event. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03A planned hearing on a proposed enrollment expansion by the Red Bank Charter School is still scheduled for Friday night, despite the withdrawal of a key participant and the expected start of a blizzard.

Councilwoman Kathy Horgan, who chairs Mayor Pasquale Menna’s so-called blue-ribbon commission on the proposal, said the event will go ahead because the committee is on a tight deadline, and the storm will be in its earliest hours. Read More »

RED BANK: CHARTER SCHOOL PLANS OFFENSIVE

rbcs 012016 2Charter school parents at Wednesday night’s meeting in the school’s new STEM lab on Monmouth Street. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03At their first gathering since a controversial doubling of enrollment was proposed last month, Red Bank Charter School officials sought to enlist the school’s parents in a campaign to push back against opponents of the plan Wednesday night.

About 75 parents crowded into newly rented classroom space for a meeting billed as a “family facts” session that members of the general public were not permitted to attend. But many of those present complained they’d been blindsided by the expansion proposal and poorly informed about how to defend it against sometimes hostile criticism by other borough residents.

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RED BANK: CHARTER BAILS FROM HEARING

pennotti menna 111115Charter school Principal Meredith Pennotti with Mayor Pasquale Menna on Veteran’s Day. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Hours after a public hearing on the proposed doubling of enrollment at the Red Bank Charter School was announced Tuesday evening, charter school officials have reversed course and said they will not participate.

Instead, the school will hold its own forum on the controversial issue, open to the public, next week, Principal Meredtih Pennotti told redbankgreen Wednesday morning.

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RED BANK: CHARTER PANEL TO HOLD HEARING

barbara boas 011316Retired teacher Barbara Boas, center, was one of seven borough residents named to a study commission last week. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Mayor Pasquale Menna’s so-called blue-ribbon commission to review a proposed doubling of enrollment at the Red Bank Charter School will hold a public hearing Friday, weather permitting.

The meeting, booked for the Red Bank Middle School auditorium at 7 p.m., was announced in an alert from borough hall Tuesday evening, a day before charter school parents were expected to hold their own meeting on the expansion plan.

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RED BANK: BECK WEIGHS IN ON CHARTER PLAN

rbcs 121515 2The charter school campus on Oakland Street, above, abuts a commercial building on Oakland Street in which the school recently leased space for current and possible future use. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03State Senator Jennifer Beck has asked the New Jersey education department to either fully fund Red Bank’s public schools or reject a proposed doubling of enrollment at the Red Bank Charter School.

In a letter sent to Commissioner David Hespe Governor Chris Christie on Friday, Beck says that allowing the charter school expansion to go ahead without a commensurate increase in funding for the district would “require Red Bank taxpayers to absorb an enormous tax increase and potentially leave public school students with less educational opportunities.”

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RED BANK: MARCHERS REJECT CHARTER PLAN

rb march 011316 1Protesters marched from the middle school to borough hall in freezing weather. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Red Bank residents hoping to slow or halt a proposed doubling of enrollment at the Red Bank Charter School got help from the borough council Wednesday night.

After an estimated 200 parents, children, district employees and others marched in frigid weather from the middle school to borough hall, the council adopted a resolution asking the state Department to delay a decision on the charter school endeavor.

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RED BANK: COUNCIL TO SEEK CHARTER DELAY

rbms 121715 5Parents and kids packed the Red Bank Middle School auditorium last month to protest a planned expansion of the Red Bank Charter School. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03For the second time in a month, members of the Red Bank school community plan to rally again Wednesday night to oppose a proposed doubling of enrollment at the Red Bank Charter School.

This time, they’re planning to march from the middle school to borough hall for a semimonthly council session, where a resolution will be introduced asking the state Department to tap the brakes on the charter school endeavor.

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RED BANK: MENNA SEEKS PDQ CHARTER REPORT

menna burry 010216Mayor Pasquale Menna with Monmouth County Freeholder Lillian Burry after Saturday’s borough government reorganization. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna hopes to assemble a “blue-ribbon panel” in coming days to quickly assess what he called “one of the biggest elephants in the room:” the Red Bank Charter School’s controversial expansion plan and its impact on taxpayers.

Menna announced the initiative at Saturday’s borough government reorganization, telling a packed room he hoped the seven-member committee would “articulate the issues, the consequences, and the financial impact” of such an expansion for taxpayers.

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RED BANK: CHARTER PLAN SPARKS PUSHBACK

rbms 121715 3Superintendent Jared Rumage addressed a packed auditorium at the middle school Thursday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03A standing-room crowd of more than 400 filled the Red Bank Middle School auditorium to oppose a proposed doubling of enrollment at the Red Bank Charter School Thursday night.

The turnout, on a rainy and foggy night, surprised organizers, which they said reflected wildfire concern that the expansion, if approved by the state Department of Education, would occur at steep financial cost to the two-school borough district and taxpayers.

“I have two kids in the primary school, and I don’t want them to be hurt,” said Marion Street resident Genilda Shinners. “And I don’t want  my taxes going up, either.”

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RED BANK: BRANNIGAN’S MAKEOVER APPROVED

Brannigan's 110215Branningan’s plans to add a two-tiered deck, complete with an open-air tower at the north end, and an outdoor bar, seen at above left. Below, the property as it appeared in July. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

brannigan's 071915Wait: the drawing above shows Brannigan’s Bar & Grill?

Believe it, barhoppers. A beloved Red Bank dive is about to get a makeover that will enable imbibers and — yes — diners to take advantage of great park and river views, thanks to unanimous planning board approval Monday night.
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RED BANK: BASIE PLANS MASSIVE EXPANSION

Basie expansion 1 102615An architect’s rendering of the expanded Count Basie Theatre includes additions on the east and west sides of the existing structure. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

just_in1Red Bank’s Vaudeville-era Count Basie Theatre is in for a massive, $20 milion expansion that will turn it into a “creative campus” dedicated to the performing arts in coming years, officials said Monday.

Incorporating adjoining properties acquired in recent years, theater officials plan to “move toward our longtime vision of an entire city block dedicated to the performing arts,” Tom Widener, chairman of the theater’s board of trustees, said in an announcement released Monday morning.
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RED BANK: BAR PLANS DECK; CHAINS COMING

brannigan's 071915Branningan’s has filed plans to add a two-tiered deck to the parking lot side of its Wharf Avenue building. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

retail churn smallYes, it’s already time for another edition of redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn. And once again, there’s news about Red Bank food and drink.

Right around the “read more” corner are details about big changes planned at Brannigan’s Bar & Grill, plus word of two national food chains hoping to get in on the head-spinning restaurantization of Red Bank: Jimmy John’s Deli and Chipotle Mexican Grill.

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RED BANK: LUNCH BREAK GETS $1 MILLION

lunch break 092914The donation will ensure completion of a major expansion of the soup kitchen now underway, officials said. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

just_in1Red Bank’s Lunch Break soup kitchen has landed a $1 million donation from a philanthropist who asked not to be publicly identified, the organization announced Monday.

The donation, already in the bank, pushed Lunch Break to 80 percent of its $5 million capital campaign to pay for a sizable expansion of its facility 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: SHOP OWNERS CHRISTEN SPACE

jesse & chris 1 111713

room 111713Sugarush owners Chris Paseka and Jesse Bello debuted the new party room at their Red Bank cupcake shop by holding their own wedding there Sunday. In attendance was Kathryn Barnett, whose dance studio occupied the East Front Street space for three decades before relocating to Middletown earlier this year.

“I hope they’ll be as happy as I was here for 30 years,” she told redbankgreen. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

BIGGER HOME TO FEED AND CLOTHE THE NEEDY

Lunch Break executive director Gwen Love, with back to camera, gets a hug after the zoning board vote. Below, plans show the expansion to the left of the existing building, which will get a rooftop vegetable garden. (Photo above by Rebecca Desfosse. Click to enlarge)

By REBECCA DESFOSSE

Red Bank soup kitchen Lunch Break won approval Thursday night for an expansion that will give it some long-overdue breathing room at its packed facility on Drs. James Parker Boulevard, officials said.

With unanimous approval by the borough zoning board, the nonprofit plans to knock down two houses adjacent to existing home and build a two-story, 2,100-square-foot expansion to house administrative offices, a clothing room, a food pantry, and rooms to provide other programs for those in need.

Currently, Lunch Break is operating in extremely cramped quarters, and because of that, “Not only are the volunteers and staff challenged every day, we are not providing the quality of service that we want to for our clients,” said executive director Gwendolyn Love.

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RED BANK: CHINESE EATERY DOUBLES DOWN

Victor Kuo’s Temple Gourmet Chinese won approval Monday night to take over half the storefront used by Jonathan Salon, which has consolidated into lesser space. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Barely more than a year after Victor Kuo gambled that Red Bank needed a linen-napkin, gourmet Chinese restaurant, he’s found himself overwhelmed by the reception.

On Saturday nights, the wait for a table at Temple Gourmet Chinese, on Broad Street, can be more than an hour long. “We’re turning 20, 30 people away on weekends,” a slightly astonished Kuo tells redbankgreen.

So with sales exceeding his forecasts, Kuo is already busting out, nearly doubling the size of his restaurant and shopping around for the ticket to yet another level on the dining-out ladder: a liquor license.

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YMCA GETS OK FOR SHRUNKEN PLAN

harrisonCongregation Beth Shalom, led by Rabbi Dovid Harrison, won concessions from the Community YMCA. An architectural plan, below, shows the south face of the proposed remodeling (top) and east facade along Maple Avenue. (Click to enlarge.)

elevationsAfter months of contentious hearings that prompted a lawsuit against the Borough of Red Bank, the Community YMCA finally won approval to increase the size of its 40-year-old Maple Avenue health facility.

After a four-and-a-half hour hearing that was light on objections from the public, all seven members of the zoning board voted to approve the plan, which would increase the size of the facility by 56 percent, to 86,000 square feet.

It would also, for the first time, allow traffic to exit the facility directly onto busy Maple Avenue, which doubles as state Highway 35.

But not on the Sabbath.

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YMCA SCALES BACK EXPANSION PLAN

cymcaTalks between Community YMCA officials and Red Bank’s zoning board led the Y to shave 15,000 square feet off a proposed expansion at the Maple Avenue health facility. (Click to enlarge)

Almost 10 months after a protracted hearing process that led to a rejection and lawsuit, the Community YMCA will return to the Red Bank zoning board this week with a dramatically scaled-back proposal to expand its Maple Avenue health facility, redbankgreen has learned.

Andrea Plaza, the Y’s vice president for family health, said closed-door settlement negotiations with the board resulted in the nonprofit making significant changes to the scope and appearance of the proposed expansion.

The talks resulted in “a better plan,” Plaza said.

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