RED BANK: PARKING SYSTEM TO GET MAKEOVER

red bank tom calu meterInterim parking director Tom Calu with a smart meter at Wednesday’s presentation. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank njRed Bank’s entire inventory of parking meters and kiosks is slated for replacement, borough officials said Wednesday, as they debuted a ‘smart’ meter scheduled for rollout curbside early next year.

Meantime, the search for a parking director, the foremost recommendation of a parking study released in January, has been “disappointing,” the official leading the search told redbankgreen.

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RED BANK: BIKE-HOOP DREAMS

Some of Red Bank’s newly decommissioned parking meters (right) could be retrofitted as lock stands for bicycles. Borough Engineer Christine Ballard tells redbankgreen that officials are awaiting word on a grant that would pay for galvanized iron loop sleeves that slide on to former parking meter posts that have had their heads removed.

Meantime, biking-and-walking advocacy group Red Bank Safe Routes is collecting suggestions from residents on where they’d like to see more bike racks in town. Feel free to add your thoughts in a comment below. (Photo above courtesy NYC DOT. Click to enlarge)

WE GOT US ANOTHER LEANER

meter-leanerA parking meter on Globe Court in Red Bank appeared Monday to have had a rough weekend. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

BECK CHATS IT UP WITH WESTSIDE GROUP

jen-beckState Senator Jen Beck talked with residents at the West Side Community Group Wednesday night. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

For months, Patrick Hussey has looked out from his Catherine Street home and wished for pavement. The asphalt was torn up as part of the Cedar Crossing construction project, he said, and he’s been told by contractors that there’s no plan to repave the section of road until later this year.

“I’m ready to plant a garden right there in the street in front of my house,” Hussey said.

He hasn’t been able to get a straight answer from local officials about when his street will be repaved, he said, so he took his grievance a couple steps higher up the chain Wednesday night, when State Senator Jen Beck visited the Westside Community Group for her first time since serving on the borough council.

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DOWNTOWN BUSINESS OWNERS ASK FOR HELP

lyristisRed Bank business owner George Lyristis led a plea to the borough council to make changes that would be positive for the downtown Monday night. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It’s going to take a team effort for downtown business owners to make it out of this murky economy alive, says George Lyristis, co-owner of The Bistro at Red Bank.

Time to get the other players involved, then.

Lyristis, along with a handful of other merchants, urged the borough council on Monday night to work with them in getting Red Bank back on track as a buzzing, competitive force in the region. The group wrote a letter to the council outlining what it hopes the governing body can do to get that done.

Keeping the downtown a little cleaner, scaling back parking enforcement and adding signs to direct motorists to parking lots will do, Lyristis said.

“We all have to chip in at this point,” said Lyristis, the de facto voice for business owners at Monday’s meeting.

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FREE PARKING NOT IN THE BAG THIS YEAR

bagged-meters-500x375If free parking comes to Red Bank for the holidays, it’ll cost somebody. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

In past years it’s been a rubber stamp: Red Bank bags up its parking meters and lets shoppers and visitors save some change in the weeks leading up to the end-of-year holidays.

Not this year.

“Right now it’s very difficult to tell somebody you’ve got to take a furlough day so we can give free parking,” Mayor Pasquale Menna said.

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PARKING TICKETS? NOT ON TUESDAYS

meter-cartNo parking meter tickets have been written all summer on a Tuesday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Since July, Sunday has been the only day of the week you could park in downtown Red Bank without feeding money into the borough’s parking meters between 9a and 6p.

Or so we’ve thought.

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KA-CHING: SATURDAY TICKETING RETURNS

dscf3005A parking enforcement officer writes a ticket in the White Street parking lot on Wednesday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The first ticket was written up at 9:24a. The last was 3:42p.

In that six-hour period this past Saturday, one parking enforcement officer  — wrist still intact —  wrote up 203 tickets for parking meter violations. That’s 34 tickets per hour.

Make no mistake: the grace period is undoubtedly over.

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NO SATURDAY ENFORCEMENT YET FOR METERS

meter-decal2-060310A parking authority employee applies new yellow stickers to meters on Broad Street earlier this month. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

meter-decal-060310Two weeks after the end of free Saturday parking in downtown Red Bank, not a single ticket has been written for overtime violations on Saturdays, redbankgreen has learned.

And it has nothing to do with full compliance from the meter feeders.

The borough, it turns out, hasn’t been enforcing the Saturday parking charge, and won’t start until next month, even though the rationale for the change was to boost revenue for the cash-strapped town.

“We’re going to start enforcing the weekend after the fireworks,” Assistant Borough Administrator Gary Watson said.

When asked why, he said, “I don’t know any rhyme or reason.”

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MIXED REACTIONS FOR NEW METER RATES

meterfeeder11Matthew Shubitz thumbs through a handful of change Friday to round up enough to satisfy Red Bank’s new meter rates. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It’s been a little more than a month since Red Bank doubled curbside parking meter rates downtown, jacking the fees from 50 cents and hour to a dollar.

Borough officials made the move, which also included a 33-percent increase to permit fees, in part to put a tourniquet on a $10,000-a-month bleed from town coffers that began when free Saturday parking took effect in early 2009.

So how has it been working out?

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RED BANK PASSES PARKING-FEE HIKES

broad-metersCome April, on-street parking will cost twice as much downtown. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Red Bank officials formally put a higher premium on downtown parking Monday night, passing an ordinance that will double on-street parking fees and raise the cost of parking permits by 33 percent.

The changes, boosting street meter rates to $1 an hour and permit costs to $800 a year, will take effect April 1. At a projected $203,000 increase in revenue for the borough, the meter and permit hike is expected to more than make up for a painful shortfall of about $10,000 a month resulting from the borough’s indefinite moratorium on charging for Saturday parking.

Despite its potentially fractious nature, the council faced virtually no pushback from the public.

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BOROUGH HAS NO METER-REVENUE FORECASTS

white-st-lotMeter rates in the White Street and other municipal lots won’t be affected by the doubling of fees for curbside parking, but lot-permit fees are scheduled to soar by 33 percent. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

In the absence of projections, forecasts or even conservative estimates, Red Bank officials appear to be going on hope when it comes to a plan to compensate for a shortfall in parking revenue.

Contrary to a claim by Mayor Pasquale Menna that borough Chief Financial Officer Frank Mason had worked up projected revenue gains from a proposed doubling of fees for street meters downtown, Mason says he has not yet made such forecasts.

As the Borough Council moves forward with a plan to boost non-lot parking to $1 an hour, and jack up yearly parking permit fees to $800, from $600, the only figure that’s clear is how much money has been lost since lifting Saturday parking fees a year ago. Mayor Pasquale Menna says it’s about $10,000 a month, or $120,000 a year.

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