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RED BANK: SAXUM SPREE CONTINUES

Located at Broad and West Front streets, Saxum’s latest acquisition has Urban Outfitters as its sole ground-floor tenant. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A Morris County-based real estate investment firm has acquired one of downtown Red Bank’s oldest and most prominent commercial structures.

The purchase of the home of an Urban Outfitters store by an arm of Saxum Real Estate is the firm’s third major investment in the town in the past 18 months, and the first for occupied space.

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RED BANK: AFTER SCATHING REPORT, WHAT?

Business Administrator Ziad Shehady in front of the large-screen monitor he uses in staff meetings to track projects. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Now that a scathing review of municipal operations has landed on their desks, what will Red Bank’s leaders do with it?

It won’t go into a drawer to be forgotten, says the newly hired official charged with implementing most of its recommendations. In fact, he says, change is already underway.

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RED BANK: RATS INFEST NEIGHBORHOOD

Rats were easily evident in the yard of a McLaren Street home Thursday morning. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank officials promised quick action Wednesday night after East Side homeowners said their neighborhood has been infested by rats.

Worthley Street residents Jeff and Allison Welker, joined by a handful of neighbors, told the borough council that they cannot allow their children or pets into their backyard because of a recurring “fireworks display” of the rodents.

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RED BANK: VNA SITE UP FOR NEW HOUSING

The former VNA headquarters building on Riverside Avenue, with the Colony House apartments at right. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The massive former VNA Health Group headquarters in Red Bank would be demolished and replaced with multifamily residential housing under a plan in the works, redbankgreen has learned.

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RED BANK: FIRE VICTIMS SEEK HELP

Owen Duncan and Mildred Johnson, below, speaking with acting Fire Marshal Tommy Welsh as firefighters battled the blaze in their home on May 27. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Two Red Bank siblings who lost their lifelong home in a fire last month are seeking the public’s help as they watch their funds dwindle.

Mildred Johnson and Owen Duncan escaped their burning house on Washington Street on May 27.

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RED BANK: REPORT RIPS TOWN OPERATIONS

A management review found that “at least 12” full-time positions could be eliminated from borough government. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Citing numerous examples of “dysfunctionality,” an unsparing review of Red Bank’s management recommends widespread overhauls, from a new form of government to improved courtroom security.

The Management Enhancement Report, commissioned last October and posted on the borough website Friday, includes insider comments highly critical of the way things work, or don’t work, at borough hall.

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RED BANK: DOUBTS ON PRESERVATION LAW

Homes along Washington Street, in the borough’s designated historic district, would be affected by the ordinance, as would properties beyond the district’s borders. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Does Red Bank’s Historic Preservation Commission need more teeth?

The borough’s planning board began chewing on that question Monday night, and seemed not to like the taste of it.

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RED BANK: MASKS ADD FLAIR TO MAYOR’S BALL

Not everyone at the fourth annual Red Bank Mayor’s Ball wore masks, but there were plenty of attendees adding touches of lacy, sparkly and feathery mystique to event, held Friday night at the Oyster Point Hotel to raise funds for Holiday Express and the borough’s animal welfare efforts.

Mayor Pasquale Menna, at right, hosted. Among those honored were Holiday Express founder Tim McLoone, who performed with the Atlantic Coast Band featuring the Shirleys, and Detour Gallery owner Kenny Schwartz, above right. 

See who you know in redbankgreen’s photos below. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

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RED BANK: ADMINISTRATOR ‘Z,’ ON NEW JOB

Ziad Andrew Shehady in his Springfield office with his dog, Sheeba, in 2017. (Photo courtesy of Ziad Andrew Shehady. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Ziad Andrew Shehady, the incoming borough administrator of Red Bank, has a vision: local government done right, so that it’s viewed as “head and shoulders above” the norm, “like Amazon and Microsoft.

“New York is a great city to go to, and Red Bank is a great town to go to, but nobody looks at the municipal government and says, ‘wow, that is a municipality that is really doing government well,'” Shehady said in a telephone interview with redbankgreen Tuesday afternoon.

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RED BANK: NEW ADMINISTRATOR NAMED

Ziad Andrew Shehady reading to young students in Springfield last month. (Photo courtesy of Ziad Andrew Shehady. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

The Red Bank council approved the hiring Wednesday night of a new borough administrator, giving the town’s most powerful unelected job to an Army veteran who became the mayor of a Union County town at the age of 25.

And his salary will be triple that of his predecessor.

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RED BANK: GOP CHAIR TO SEEK COUNCIL SEAT

GOP Chairman Michael Clancy at last October’s Halloween parade. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

With its two incumbents dropping out, the Red Bank Republican party on Thursday chose its chairman and a newcomer to run for borough council this year, redbankgreen has learned.

Party head Michael Clancy will be joined on the ticket by Bank Street resident Allison Gregory on a ticket in which the mayoral slot will be blank, Clancy said Friday.

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RED BANK: VISCOMI ADDS WILD CARD TO RACE

Viscomi serves on the board of ed, where she leads the finance committee, and is on a number of borough committees. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

The 2018 race for two Red Bank council seats looks like it will have a wild card.

Sue Viscomi, a board of education member and former Republican stalwart who has expressed increasing antipathy in recent years to the local arm of the party, has started gathering signatures for a run as an independent in the November election, she told redbankgreen on Monday.

Her entry would appear to add to the challenge for the two presumptive Republican candidates, already facing the prospect of an anti-Trump backlash in a majority Democrat town, and could eat into support for the two Democrats in the race, both newcomers to elective politics.

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RED BANK: JUDGE NIXES POWER LINE PLAN

Homeowners living along the line and other objectors packed a public hearing on the JCP&L proposal held at Brookdale Community College last March. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Electrical utility JCP&L has failed to prove it needs a to build a controversial 10-mile long, high-voltage electricity transmission line that would end in Red Bank, a judge has ruled.

The decision, handed down Thursday, represents at least an interim victory for a grassroots effort led by homeowners to thwart the proposed $111 million project.

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RED BANK COP ARRESTED

A Red Bank police officer was arrested on an undisclosed charge or charges last week.

APP.com, the website of the Asbury Park Press, reported Friday afternoon that Patrolman Benjamin Springer, a four-year member of the borough police force, had been arrested in Middletown.

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RED BANK: MENNA TOPS TICKET AGAIN

Mayor Pasquale Menna at Riverside Gardens Park in September. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Holding off a challenge by activist Ben Forest, Mayor Pasquale Menna secured the top spot on the Democratic ticket in the November election Sunday.

Menna, going for a fourth four-year term, will be joined by two council contenders seeking their first elective office.

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RED BANK: MENNA TUGS REINS ON HORSES

Prince, from Dream Horse Carriage Rides, pulls a carriage through downtown Red Bank in 2014. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Mayor Pasquale Menna thinks having horses pull tourist carriages through downtown Red Bank during the Christmas holiday season is “inhumane.”

He said so at Wednesday night’s semimonthly council meeting, when he formally appointed an Animal Welfare Advisory Committee and asked that it look into ending the annual rides.

What does the owner of the horses think?

“Oh, not this idiocy again,” said Tania Lawson, owner of Dream Horse Carriage Rides in Jackson Township.

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RED BANK: FOREST LAUNCHES MAYORAL BID

Ben Forest, above, hopes to unseat three-term Mayor Pasquale Menna, below. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The 2018 race for Red Bank mayor got underway Wednesday with the announcement by West Side activist Ben Forest that he would challenge incumbent Pasquale Menna for the Democratic party’s endorsement.

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RED BANK: SALE PUTS BUILDING ON TAX ROLLS

The former VNA headquarters building on Riverside Avenue has been acquired by an office developer. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Red Bank’s municipal coffers are about to be bolstered by the addition to the tax rolls of a major office building.

“It is now taxable,” Mayor Pasquale Menna said Wednesday about the former VNA Health Group headquarters, following a report by app.com that the property had been acquired by a private developer for $7.4 million.

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RED BANK: DEMS TAP ACTING ADMINISTRATOR

Michael Ballard heads for his seat on the dais after his swearing-in as councilman Monday. Below, Kenneth DeRoberts, a consultant, was named interim administrator through March 31. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Back in control of the Red Bank council, Democrats flexed their muscle Monday on the issue of who will run the day-to-day operations of municipal government now that Stanley Sickels has left the building.

Answer: still to be determined. For the next three months, however, the job of borough administrator will be held by a consultant on local government efficiency.

 

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RED BANK: NOW TAKING TAX PREPAYMENTS

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank has joined Belmar, Jersey City and other New Jersey municipalities in encouraging residents to consider reducing the impact of the newly adopted federal tax plan on their wallets.

How? By prepaying local property taxes before the end of 2018.

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RED BANK: PARKING AGENDA IN TRANSITION

A builder may be chosen to redevelop the White Street lot this month, and a parking study could soon follow. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Amid recriminations and calls for a fresh start, Democrats began taking the wheel in the drive for a possible new parking structure in downtown Red Bank last week.

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RED BANK: LIGHT ‘NOT FEASIBLE’ SAYS DOT

A car, at right, waits for a break in the traffic to turn onto Riverside Avenue from Bodman Place. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Creating a new signal-controlled intersection on a busy stretch of Red Bank highway near the Molly Pitcher Inn is “not feasible,” according to the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

Still, Mayor Pasquale Menna is hoping the DOT will reconsider its oft-stated position if and when there’s a new owner of the former VNA Health Group headquarters building, located on a problematic corner, he told redbankgreen Monday.

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RED BANK: SQUEEZING IN NEW PARKING SPOTS

Following through on recent action by the borough council, a crew from Red Bank’s public utilities department created two new parking spots Wednesday on White Street in what was previously a loading zone in front of Sweetest Sin lingerie and other stores along the bottleneck into Broad Street.

Then, just minutes later… 

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