RED BANK: SNACK BAR, SCREENS ON AGENDA

red bank riverside gardens concessionThe council won’t renew the lease on the snack stand at Riverside Gardens Park under a measure on Wednesday’s agenda. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

After several years as a seasonal commercial operation, the concession stand in Red Bank’s Riverside Gardens Park has proven to be a fiscal dud.

So suggests a proposal to nix an extension of the soon-to-expire lease on the building. That, along with an ordinance tightening up the property maintenance law governing lawns and window screens, is among the items of interest up for consider at for the council’s regular session Wednesday.

Here’s a quick rundown.

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RED BANK: INKY PROBES SEGREGATION CLAIMS

The Red Bank Charter School on Oakland Street. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Is the Red bank school district segregated? And if so, is the Red Bank Charter School at fault?

An article published Thursday on philly.com, the online version of the Philadelphia Inquirer, probes that question, and whether others among New Jersey’s 88 charter schools are also segregated.

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RED BANK: CHARTER SCHOOL WINS GYM OK

A rendering of the proposed charter school gym, which wouldn’t have room for bleachers, an architect said. (Rendering by Erick Wagner. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The Red Bank Charter School won approval Thursday night to create a gym in part of a commercial building it plans to buy on Monmouth Street.

In the process, the zoning board hearing on the plan re-exposed some long-simmering resentments harbored by parents who contend the charter school’s existence is a drain on the local school district.

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RED BANK: CHARTER, RAYRAP ON AGENDA

A view of 135-137 Monmouth Street as seen through windows at the Red Bank Charter School, its prospective next owner. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The Red Bank zoning board this week takes up two projects that have generated heat in the past, one involving the Red Bank Charter School and the other a townhouse plan by builder Ray Rapcavage.

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RED BANK: CHARTER SCHOOL TO BUY BUILDING

The building, in which the charter school now rents space, has several commercial tenants, and another slated to take the retail space formerly leased by Prown’s Home Improvements. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The Red Bank Charter School plans to buy a commercial building that adjoins its Oakland Street home under a plan approved by the school’s board of trustees Tuesday night.

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FAIR HAVEN: ACME CENTER MAKEOVER OK’D

Three renderings of the proposed monument sign that proved a sticking point for planning board members. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A makeover of Fair Haven’s dowdy Acme shopping center won borough planning board approval Tuesday night, but minus a proposed slab of signage that dominated a three-hour meeting.

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FAIR HAVEN: ACME CENTER CHANGES DETAILED

Forman Street resident Bonnie Moore photographs an exhibit used in the hearing. Below, an illustration showing proposed changes to building 1, on the western end of the site. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Overdue for a new look, the 1950s-vintage Fair Haven strip mall anchored by an Acme supermarket is also badly in need of a new parking scheme, its owner told the borough planning board Thursday night.

It would get both by the end of October if the board approves an extensive makeover plan in coming weeks, Dan Hughes, a principal in the company that bought it for for $5.8 million two years ago, told the board.

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FAIR HAVEN: ACME CENTER TO GET MAKEOVER

fh-acme-center-122216-1Plans call for the creation of a pedestrian passageway linking the north and south parking lots through the former Laird’s Stationery space next door to the existing Post Office. The “salon & spa” sign is for illustration purposes only. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

retail churn smallThe owner of the Fair Haven strip mall anchored by an Acme supermarket plans extensive renovations to the site, according to documents filed with the borough last week.

The plans include dividing the former Laird’s Stationery space in two to create a pedestrian breezeway linking the front and rear parking lots. But they leave unanswered questions about whether other longtime tenants might be forced out, as the owners of Laird’s contend they were.

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RED BANK: CHARTER CLAIMS NO ‘SEGREGATION’

rbcs 032216 5A five-year renewal of the Red Bank Charter School charter is pending before state education officials. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

[See update, below]

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Red Bank Charter School Superintendent Meredith Pennotti went on the offensive Thursday, blasting critics who claim the publicly funded alternate school is responsible for “segregation” of school-aged children in the borough.

In an opinion piece published by the Asbury Park Press’ app.com, Pennotti took aim at what she calls “the same small but vocal group in town” that “kicks into high gear in an effort to shut us down” when the school comes up for renewal every five years, as it has this year.

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FAIR HAVEN: BIKE SHOP CALLING IT QUITS

bike haven 081916Bike Haven will close by the end of September, its owner says. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

retail churn smallA second longtime retailer is leaving the Fair Haven Shopping Center.

But unlike Laird’s Stationery, which is temporarily relocating to smaller quarters in the center after getting squeezed out of its home by a steep rent increase, Bike Haven is simply calling it quits, owner Cliff Wittenberg tells redbankgreen. And a rent hike is only the final nail in the tire.

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FAIR HAVEN: LAIRD’S GETTING SQUEEZED OUT

budnicks brounley 071116Bob and Rose Budnick outside their store with longtime customer Katherine Brounley. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

retail churn smallTucked into the corner of a Fair Haven strip mall, marked with minimal signage, Laird’s Stationery is easy to miss if you’re not looking for it. But locals know it, and know it as a jam-packed emporium of not only paper goods and office supplies, but everything from backpacks to wiffle bats.

“The register never stops ringing,” owner Bob Budnick said early this week, as three customers converged at the front desk to pay for their purchases. “This store is woven into the fabric of a lot of people’s lives.”

But the register is about to stop ringing, here at least, and the business may be doomed, said Budnick and his wife.

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RED BANK: A WEIGHTED LOTTERY, AND A WAIT

rbcs lottery 042816 2CPA Scott Landau holds a ball he drew from a rotating drum as charter school business administrator Theresa Shirley records its number Thursday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03For the first time in its 17-year history, the Red Bank Charter School conducted a lottery engineered to give socioeconomically disadvantaged children a better shot at winning seats Thursday night.

But for parents hoping to enroll their children, the so-called weighted lottery, meant to address a lack of diversity that critics contend make Red Bank the “most segregated school district in the state of New Jersey,” now gives way to another kind of wait.

That’s because, in effect, there are no openings.

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RED BANK: WEIGHTED CHARTER LOTTERY OK’D

rbcs 032216 1The lottery drawing is scheduled for April 28 at the charter school, on Oakland Street. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Though its highly controversial proposal to double enrollment was rejected, the Red Bank Charter School has won state approval to conduct a weighted entrance lottery.

Charter school Superintendent and Principal Meredith Pennotti confirmed Tuesday that New Jersey Education Commissioner David Hespe had reversed course on one aspect of his February 29 decision and approved the use of a lottery structured to give socio-economically disadvantaged kids better odds of joining the 200-student school.

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SEA BRIGHT: EX-MAYOR MAY GET FIRE STATION

sb fire house 040114 2Two fire trucks have been relocated out of town and another sits beneath a tent since the firehouse, in the background, was condemned. Former Mayor Jo-Ann Kalaka-Adams, below. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

jo-ann-kalaka-adamsLast we heard from former Sea Bright Mayor Jo-Ann Kalaka Adams, she had just failed to relcaim her old job after an election race that turned in part on property taxes she owed the town.

Fast-forward to now. Kalaka-Adams may start collecting $4,500 a month in rent from the borough for a vacant lot, even though she owes the town $40,000 in overdue property taxes, according to the Asbury Park Press.

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RENTERS MAY FACE FULL CPI INCREASES

By JOHN T. WARD

After three decades getting a discount, Red Bank tenants could have to pick up full cost-of-living increases starting later this year.

The borough council introduced an ordinance change Wednesday night that would allow landlords to increase rents by the full amount of the Consumer Price Index published by the federal Labor Department.

Since as far back as 1978 or even earlier, local increases have been capped at 60 percent of the CPI rise when a tenant pays for heat, and 80 percent when the landlord does.

The reason for the change, said Mayor Pasquale Menna, is that no one can remember the rationale for the discount, and no paper trail for it exists, leaving it open to a lawsuit.

“If it were challenged, we would not prevail,” said Menna, an attorney who made his political bones as a tenants’ advocate in the early 1980s. “It’s defective.”

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RENT BOARD TABLES CPI DISCUSSION

rent-board-102711Two tenants and two reporters turned out for Thursday night’s monthly meeting of the Red Bank rent board. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

No landlords appeared from the cold rain outside, and only two tenants showed up, one of them to discuss an unrelated matter. Four members of the eight-member board were absent.

But paltry attendance wasn’t the reason Red Bank’s Rent Leveling Board didn’t get far with its review of the borough rent ordinance, which links annual increases to the Consumer Price Index, the nation’s go-to gauge of inflation.

No one on the board knew why the law, which dates to 1978, was structured to permit rent increases of 60 percent of the CPI rise when a tenant pays for heat, and 80 percent when the landlord does.

“I’m on the board 20 years, and I’m not sure of the reason for it,” said board attorney Gene Anthony. “It has never been addressed by this board, and no landlord has ever complained about it, either.

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