RED BANK: TAX INCREASE REDUCED

rb budget q&A 051816 1A half-dozen or so residents, outnumbered by borough employees and officials, attended the budget session. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

[Update, May 20: Visuals from this presentation are now available online here.]

By JOHN T. WARD

taxesA controversial increase in parking fees will trim the local property tax increase to less than half that previously anticipated, Red Bank officials said Wednesday.

At the annual informal budget presentation, held at borough hall, Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer said the spending plan scheduled for adoption next week calls for a two-percent tax increase, or about $35 for the year for the owner of a home assessed at the town-average $354,006. Read More »

RED BANK: BURNHAM BEGINS RE-ELECTION BID


burnham party 051516 2

burnham party 051516 1 Having been denied a return spot on the Republican ticket, Red Bank Council President Cindy Burnham, seen at center right, hosted an open party at her Wallace Street home to kick off her re-election campaign as an independent Sunday night.

 “It’s not a fundraiser — it’s a friend-raiser,” Burnham said, quoting one of her daughters, as about two dozen partygoers mingled in chilly weather in her garage and driveway while a live band played. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: ‘COMPROMISE’ PARKING HIKE OK’D

rb parking 051116 1Fees for parking in downtown lots would double, to $1 per hour, while metered spots on the street would rise 50 percent, to $1.50 an hour. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

LicPlate1Red Bank’s parking fees are going up.

The borough council approved rate increases Wednesday night, billing the action as a “compromise” with downtown business owners.

Still, merchants decried the hikes, which they said will further alienate potential visitors already turned off by metering, aggressive enforcement and costly tickets. Read More »

RED BANK: MAYOR’S BALL II DRAWS A CROWD

philipson menna 050616rb mayors ball 050616 12Mayor Pasquale Menna, above right, welcomed Count Basie Theatre CEO Adam Philipson, left, and more than 200 other guests to the second annual Red Bank Mayor’s Charity Ball at the Oyster Point Hotel Friday night. Proceeds from the $125-per-head event were earmarked for the borough-based nonprofits Lunch Break and HABcore

Check out the photos from redbankgreen’s drive-thru of the cocktail hour, below. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

Read More »

RED BANK: TAXPAYER BUDGET Q&A SLATED

rb boro hall 041416taxesFor the 10th year in a row, Red Bank borough government department heads are scheduled to offer presentations on their 2016 budget proposals at a public information session scheduled for Wednesday, May 18 at at borough hall.

Read More »

RED BANK: STEEP PARKING FEE HIKE PROPOSED

rb parking 041416 2Fees for parking in downtown lots would double, while metered spots on the street would see a 50-percent increase. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

taxesRed Bank’s council laid two controversial proposals on the table Wednesday night:

• a budget that debuts with a 5.5-percent property-tax increase

• and a plan to soften the blow to taxpayers with a sharp increase in parking fees.

The backlash to the parking plan was immediate, both in the audience and on the governing body’s dais.

Read More »

RED BANK: PARKING IDEA SPUTTERS

rb white meter 112415A proposal to extend meter enforcement hours appeared to get no traction Wednesday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

taxesThe Red Bank council postponed the introduction of the first majority-Republican budget in a generation Wednesday.

Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer, who’s heading up the budget-writing finance committee, said she wanted more time to hear suggestions from residents and business owners on how to reduce a prospective tax increase.

But one of Schwabenbauer’s own suggestions — increasing the number of hours for which metered parking is in effect — appeared to be a non-starter.

Read More »

RED BANK: GOP DRAFT BUDGET HAS TAXES UP

schwabenbauer 010216 2Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer, who heads the finance committee, says there’s been a “severe” drop in revenue from last year along with an increase in expenses. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

taxesThe first majority-Republican Red Bank budget in a generation is set to make its debut this week, and it comes with a likely tax hike.

While officials are hopeful they can trim the increase, the draft budget shows a 5.5-percent jump in the municipal levy, or roughly $115 a year for the owner of a residential property assessed at the average $354,497, Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer tells redbankgreen.

One way to soften the impact, she said, is to extend the hours for which parking fees are collected.

Read More »

RED BANK: BURNHAM PLANS NO-TIES PARTY

burnham 1 010114Council President Cindy Burnham, seen here at her 2014 swearing-in with state Senator Jen Beck at left, plans an independent run for a second term. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Election_2016_PlainYou might call it the “no-party-ties party” when Red Bank Council President Cindy Burnham launches her independent run for re-election next month with a bash that she says is open to all borough residents.

After licking her wounds about being dumped from the 2016 Republican ticket on Sunday, Burnham confirmed Thursday that she’ll mount a solo run, one based on her record as an activist and “the voice of reason” on the governing body.

And she’s kicking it off with a party at her home that will feature a live band — Kül d’Sack — and free food, by Greek Eats.

“If there’s on thing I know how to do, it’s throw a party,” she told redbankgreen.

Read More »

RED BANK: DI SOMMA TO STAY AS GOP CHAIR

disomma 1103152Sean Di Somma on election night 2015. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Sean Di Somma, whose first two years as Red Bank Republican chairman have been marked by both the party’s resurgence and bitter infighting, will stay on in the post, he tells redbankgreen.

Though he said he had told party loyalists on Sunday that he would forego a second term in order to devote more time to his wife and infant daughter, Di Somma said Wednesday that calls by “internet trolls” and “local Democrats” for his resignation convinced him to stay for a second term, which begins in June, and through the November election.

Read More »

RED BANK: BURNHAM “STILL MULLING”

burnham colmorgen 010116Council President Cindy Burnham, seen here in January with fire police volunteer Carl Colmorgen, says she’ll announce her plans later this week. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Election_2016_PlainContrary to a published report, Red Bank Council President Cindy Burnham says she still hasn’t made up her mind whether to seek a second term as an independent.

One day after she was left off the 2016 Republican ticket, Burnham told redbankgreen that she’ll announce on Thursday whether she’s running and will fly solo in her quest.

Read More »

RED BANK: GOP DUMPS BURNHAM

cindy burnham 021016Council President Cindy Burnham said she’s undecided whether she’ll seek re-election. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Election_2016_PlainShe may have broken the Democrats’ lock on Red Bank government, but that wasn’t enough for the party she rode in with.

Heading into her first re-election campaign, Councilwoman Cindy Burnham was dropped from the 2016 Republican ticket Sunday.

Read More »

RED BANK: COUNCIL TAPS METER INSTALLER

rb water meter 120815 1Existing water meters are to be replaced with new technology that includes radio transmitters for remote reading, like one already in use on this new house on Oakland Street. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03

Red Bank’s townwide water-meter replacement project, an effort that prompted complaints about unnecessary spending, went from proposal to reality without so much as a peep Wednesday night.

At a semimonthly meeting, the borough council awarded a contract for the work, which calls for replacing some 3,800 residential meters, and hundreds more non-residential devices, with technology that will enable borough officials to get a read on usage without leaving their desks.

Read More »

RED BANK: GOP HOSED ON WATER VOTES

cindy burnham 021016Council President Cindy Burnham, sitting in for the absent mayor for the first time, recused herself from the meter bond vote on advice from borough Attorney Jean Cipriani, right. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03

Amid criticism by taxpayers, the new Republican-led Red Bank council approved two bonds totaling $3.7 million to pay for a municipal well and water meters for every property in town Wednesday night.

Both bonds won unanimous approval, though Council President Cindy Burnham, who recused herself over what was described as a potential conflict of interest, said she would have voted no on the meter issue.

Read More »

RED BANK: WATER BONDS UP FOR VOTE

rb water 102215Two bonds totaling $3.7 million in debt for a new well and water meters are up for possible adoption vote. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03

Two bond ordinances and a plan to buy new water meters for nearly all Red Bank properties dominate the agenda for Wednesday night’s council meeting.

Facing a deadline for action, the council is expected to hold an adotion vote on two bonds totaling $3.7 million to pay for upgrades they say will help the town avoid  restrictions on water usage and new connections to the water system.

Read More »

RED BANK: TWO WATER BONDS ON AGENDA

rb water meter 120815 2A wireless water meter installed on a newly constructed home on Oakland Street. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03

With two clocks ticking down to the same deadline, Red Bank officials expect to introduce a pair of bond ordinances Wednesday night in hopes of avoiding restrictions on water usage and new connections to the water system.

One would authorize $1.9 million in new debt to replace nearly every water meter in town. The other would bond $1.83 million pay for a new water well to supply the borough-owned water utility.

Read More »

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.

Read More »

RED BANK: TENNIS FANS MUSTER FOR COURTS

rb tennis 111015 2The tennis courts, overgrown with weeds since being swamped by Hurricane Sandy three years ago, got a sprucing-up from the borough last week. (Photo by Trish Russoniello. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03As expected, the Red Bank council derailed an ambitious plan for $3.5 million worth of private development on the site of the borough-owned red clay tennis courts in Marine Park Monday night.

Still, a roomful of frustrated tennis enthusiasts packed the council chambers, many of them holding paper signs urging the council to now restore the hurricane-damaged riverfront courts to playability.

Read More »

RED BANK: MARINE PARK PROJECTS NIXED

rb tennis 081915 2The clay tennis courts at Marine Park as seen in August. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03All three private-sector proposals for the future of Red Bank’s hurricane-damaged Marine Park clay tennis courts should be rejected, a triumverate of borough council members is expected to say in a report next week.

The recommendation to the full council is being made in spite of the fact that one pitch, by startup Jetsun Enterprises, was far and away the winner on paper. But in the court of public opinion, it was over the line, Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer told redbankgreen on Monday.

Read More »

RED BANK: ZIPPRICH ZAPPED ON ‘PLAGIARISM’

ballard zipprich 101815Councilman and Democratic party chair Ed Zipprich, right, with Democratic council candidate Michael Ballard at the borough Halloween parade last month. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Election 2015 graphic[SEE UPDATE BELOW ]

An eleventh-hour election email purportedly sent by Red Bank Democratic Party chairman and Councilman Ed Zipprich has drawn fire from Republicans both for its content, which they allege was “word-for-word” plagiarized, and for the method by which it was distributed.

Republican chairman Sean DiSomma and Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer both said Zipprich took an email that Schwabenbauer sent out Monday afternoon in support of the two Republican council candidates and tweaked it into an endorsement of the two Democratic candidates.

Then Zipprich sent his version out to recipients whose addresses he improperly obtained from the borough parks and recreation department, said Di Somma, who called for an investigation by state election authorities.

Read More »

RED BANK: BURNHAM BLASTS PARK DELAY

rb tennis 081915 2The clay tennis courts at Marine Park as seen last month. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Five months after three proposals were submitted, the Red Bank council has yet to receive a recommendation on the future of the hurricane-damaged Marine Park clay tennis courts, and may not get one before election day.

That has Republican Councilwoman Cindy Burnham — who redbankgreen has learned was chastised behind closed doors by her colleagues for saying too much about the issue — ramping up her complaints that there’s something “fishy” going on.

Read More »

RED BANK: COUNCIL GIRDS FOR POSSIBLE SUIT

rb tennis 081915 1The clay tennis courts at Marine Park as seen last month, above. Below, an architect’s depiction of the proposed Red Bank Harbor plan. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

red bank harbor 3 041515Red Bank’s mayor and council held a closed-door meeting Wednesday night to discuss potential litigation over the process that could lead to a makeover of the hurricane-damaged clay tennis courts in Marine Park.

Mayor Pasquale Menna told redbankgreen shortly beforehand that the topics to be discussed by the governing body in executive session included “possible litigation” concerning the tennis court site, though he declined to be more specific.

Read More »

RED BANK: JETSUN DEFENDS PROPOSAL

red bank harbor 1 041515A rendering by architect Mike Simpson of the Red Bank Harbor proposal, as seen from the horseshoe marina at Marine Park. Below, Jetsun principals Doug Booton, Michael Hernandez and Anthony Jude Setaro at the Red Bank Mayor’s Charity Ball in May. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

jetsuns 050115Jetsun Enterprises is not proposing a “Coney Island” in Marine Park, the startup developer said Tuesday night, in response to criticism by Red Bank Councilman Mike DuPont and comments posted on redbankgreen.

“Comparing our proposal to any large theme park such as Coney Island or Seaside is both illogical and irresponsible,” Jetsun said in a press release. “We are offering small recreational activities for families, not building rollercoasters and ferris wheels. We are extending the existing promenade, not constructing a boardwalk.” Read More »

RED BANK: DUPONT ZAPS JETSUN PROPOSAL

rb tennis 060614 2The red clay courts, idled since Hurricane Sandy, as seen from the Monmouth Boat Club next door. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Red Bank Councilman Mike DuPont has signaled he will oppose a proposal for a privately owned recreational center on the site of the borough’s riverfront tennis courts in Marine Park.

Calling the proposal, by Jetsun Enterprises, “10 pounds of potatoes in a 5 pound bag,” DuPont wrote in a letter that it “puts every imaginable use down at Marine Park with the exception of not having a ferris wheel” and could turn Red Bank into “Coney Island South.”

Read More »

RED BANK: ACTION EXPECTED ON COURT PLANS

rb tennis 042515 2HOT-TOPIC_03Wondering about the fate of Red Bank’s clay tennis courts in Marine Park, and whether they’ll be saved or replaced by either of two competing proposals to develop the waterfront site?

After nearly two months of silence, the borough parks and rec committee is expected to discuss the issue Monday night, when it could issue its non-binding recommendation to a trio of council members – Linda Schwabenbauer, Kathy Horgan and Ed Zipprich.

The councilmembers, in turn, are expected to meet Tuesday night in a closed session to “score” three proposals, one of which calls for keeping the courts, according to criteria set out in bids. They’ll also weigh comments made at a public forum held in May and afterward, said Schwabenbauer, who expects the committee to make a recommendation to the full governing body by the end of August, she said Wednesday. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)