CUT THE ENGINE OR PAY, COUNCIL SAYS

bud-truckThe Red Bank council will direct police to crack down on delivery trucks idling in town. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

park_it_021At four bucks a gallon — and more for diesel — the economics of leaving the engine running on a delivery makes little sense. There’s the environmental-damage factor, too.

But members of the Red Bank council, after receiving complaints from tenants downtown, say the fumes from idling delivery trucks are wafting into the above-business dwellings and spoiling sweet spring breezes.

So the governing body, in hope of clearing the air, is directing police to enforce a state law against idling in town, specifically targeting delivery trucks, which Mayor Pasquale Menna said are the main offenders.

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VALET, ROOFTOP DINING ON SUMMER MENU

park_it_021By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Sticking to their “open for business” push, Red Bank officials are working to roll out the red carpet for diners and drivers this summer season.

At Wednesday night’s council meeting, Mayor Pasquale Menna introduced two proposals to separate Red Bank from its primary Shore competitors, Asbury Park and Pier Village in Long Branch, and align itself more closely with places like Georgetown and New York City: valet parking and rooftop dining.

“It’s another step we’ve taken to indicate that Red Bank is open for business,”said Councilman Mike DuPont, who is leading a “red tape review” committee to make it easier for businesses to move into town.

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MORE TURF MAY COME TO BASIE FIELDS

scan-22An engineer’s rendering of the proposed upgrades to Count Basie Fields. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Red Bank is hoping to go grassless at Count Basie Fields.

Borough Engineer Christine Ballard is submitting a $500,000 state grant application to help pay for a $2.2 million turf renovation to two fields plus a half-mile gravel path along portions of the park’s perimeter.

If the borough can pull in funding for the project, Basie fields would be completely composed of the synthetic grass. Six months ago, the borough opened up its near $900,000 turf football and soccer field.

Unlike that project, the scope and price tag for this project is twice as large. But the borough intends to fund it in a similar way, Ballard said.

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MENNA PLANS RESIDENT MEETINGS

pasquale-menna-2-102110Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

When Red Bank council members take the dais for their regular meeting tomorrow night, they’ll likely start out discussing a potential new law banning vehicle-idling and expanding private contracts for water and sewer connections.

Snooze, right?

But what’s notable about these topics is not necessarily their substance, but their source. They wouldn’t have made it onto the council’s dance card had it not been for taxpayers’ input, be it by way of stopping an elected official on the street or sitting through a council meeting waiting for the regular order of business to wrap up and get to the public comment portion — an often intimidating forum typically taken advantage of by meeting regulars.

So sticking with a credo of an open government with an open door, Mayor Pasquale Menna said he wants more input and more ideas from the borough’s stakeholders. On Saturday, he plans to launch a series of informal meetings aimed at generating just that.

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THE WEEK IN REARVIEW

pink-linePink striping down River Road in Fair Haven in celebration of Pink Week, which continues this week. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

You’ll notice the redbankgreen masthead’s looking a more on the red side than green these days. That’s because last week kicked off Pink Week, Riverview Medical Center and Red Bank RiverCenter’s annual push for breast cancer awareness, detection and treatment.

We’re not here just for supportive graphics, but on this Monday morning to keep you abreast (couldn’t help it) of what that’s all about, and other news from the end of April. Click on.

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DEVELOPER GETS REPAID, PLEDGES PROGRESS

rog-mumfordDeveloper Roger Mumford is getting his money back from Red Bank, and intends to continue his Lincoln Square project soon as possible. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Roger Mumford is off Red Bank’s torture rack.

After raising a stink over having to pay into the borough’s parking fund last month, the West Side developer is getting his money back — most of it, at least — and plans to get his Lincoln Square project back in action.

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ON THE WEB, RED BANK SITE IS A PRIZE

screen-shot-2011-04-27-at-1218Red Bank’s website won a Monmouth University award for “best interactive website.” (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

If you happen to be looking for old ordinances or minutes from the planning and zoning boards, your mouse may be in for a bit of a workout.

But as far as interaction goes, Red Bank’s municipal website is tops in the Monmouth County, according to Monmouth University.

In its first New Jersey e-Government Awards, the university’s polling institute and public policy program has deemed that of the 53 municipalities in Monmouth County, Red Bank takes the honor for having the best interactive website.

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MULCH ADO ABOUT MAPLE COVE, AGAIN

11A request for mulch at Maple Cove digressed into a clash between Cindy Burnham and council members Tuesday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

When Cindy Burnham and other volunteers, part of the ad hoc Friends of Maple Cove group, ended a yearlong spat with the Borough of Red Bank and secured a deal to designate a one-acre patch at the foot of the Navesink River on Maple Avenue as a natural area with waterfront access, the understanding was that Burnham and company would maintain the parcel.

So says the town council.

Burnham maintains a different recollection.

“The only reason the Friends of Maple Cove came out to do anything was because you guys wouldn’t,” Burnham told the council Tuesday, following a request that the borough donate a half-truckload of mulch to the site.

The request triggered a kerfuffle between Burnham and the governing body over who should take care of the property, a question that never was answered.

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PEDESTRIAN SAFETY MEASURES SLATED


Front Street between English Plaza and Washington Street will get a number upgrades aimed at making pedestrians safer, a Monmouth County official said.

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Upgrades to one of Red Bank’s more troubled traffic areas will be in place next year, possibly by this time, Monmouth County officials told the borough council Tuesday.

In an overview of the planned enhancements, Kevin Nugent, of the county engineering office, said about $600,000 worth of work will go into the stretch of East and West Front streets between English Plaza and Washington Street — a highly-traveled section that’s seen more than 100 accidents in recent years.

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READY FOR ARBOR DAY

seedling In early celebration of Arbor Day on Friday and Red Bank’s fifth annual designation as aTree City,” members of the Shade Tree Committee distributed white pine seedlings to attendees of Tuesday night’s borough council meeting. STC secretary Boris Kofman, right, hands a baby tree to assistant borough administrator/public works director Gary Watson. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

NO-SHOWS NIX RED BANK COUNCIL SESSION

rb-quorumThe council couldn’t hold its regular meeting Wednesday night because of a lack of a quorum. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Red Bank’s regular council meeting Wednesday night was, in the words of Mayor Pasquale Menna, a “legal nullity,” which is just a fancy way to say there would be no meeting at all.

Councilman Ed Zipprich is out of the country. So is Councilwoman Kathy Horgan. Councilwoman Sharon Lee was out of the state. And Councilwoman Juanita Lewis was stuck in Piscataway.

“So, consequently we cannot open this meeting,” Menna said.

Not that the governing body was going to do much anyway.

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MENNA GASSED UP OVER REGULATOR PLAN

gas-regulatorImagine 80 more of these downtown. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Mayor Pasquale Menna can’t say enough how much he objects to a plan by New Jersey Natural Gas to replace aging equipment in town, although he’s trying his best.

“New Jersey Natural Gas decided they wanted to be modern day Vandals of Red Bank,” he said of the company’s proposed “gas pressure regulator relocation project,” which “sounds very fancy but it’s very ugly.”

The plan, to open up downtown sidewalks and remove old gas regulators, then install new ones above ground, has sent Menna into a whirling tirade against the company, saying it’s acting out of corporate greed and counteracting years of work to preserve the historic downtown.

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RIVERCENTER BUDGET: SAME OLD

rvrcntrRiverCenter got preliminary approval for its 2011 budget Wednesday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Red Bank RiverCenter presented its 2011 budget to the borough council Wednesday night, a perfunctory here-it-is and thank-you-for-coming that took all of two minutes from the governing body’s regular meeting.

“There’s nothing major we have this year,” Executive Director Nancy Adams told redbankgreen.

With the exception of a thousand or two dollars shuffled around to different line items, this year’s $512,120 budget is a replica of the independent agency’s 2010 spending plan: holiday events are still on, capital projects will go forward and the agency will again put an emphasis on marketing the borough throughout the state and beyond.

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INFURIATED BUILDER BLASTS RED TAPE

r-mumfordRoger Mumford says he won’t proceed with his West Side development project until he gets more cooperation from the town. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Roger Mumford is pissed.

Infuriated, in fact, by what he calls the “non-stop torture” of dealing with Red Bank red tape.

And he says he’s not going to move forward on his self-funded Lincoln Square project on Bridge Avenue and Drs. James Parker Boulevard until he gets more cooperation.

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MIZZI, CANGEMI TEAM UP TO BUST DEMS’ BLOC

mizzicangemi

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The last time redbankgreen talked to Joe Mizzi, on election night last November, he’d just acknowledged his loss in the race for a seat on the Red Bank borough council and said he was going to begin work on his next campaign.

“My last quote was, ‘I’m not going anywhere,'” said Mizzi, a 35-year-old financial analyst and adjunct professor of economics at Brookdale Community College. “And I meant it.”

On Friday, Mizzi, a Republican, announced he’s making a second run to break the Democratic lock on all six council seats, and this time he’s enlisted a familiar name to run with him: former Councilwoman Grace Cangemi.

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RED BANK, TEAR DOWN THIS WALL

lib-bulkheadThe American Littoral Society would like to replace this old wooden bulkhead with a graded, natural one to help preserve wildlife. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The bulkhead — a battered wooden wall meant to protect the Red Bank Public Library‘s backyard from the Navesink River — is, without question, in need of repair.

What the fix should be is the question.

The American Littoral Society has a suggestion: tear it down and put in a more natural bulkhead, one that will better serve the shorehline ecosystem.

The environmental group earlier this week pitched the idea, which hasn’t been tried in this area, to the borough council.

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MURPHY: PUT IT IN YOUR OWN CAN

art-murphyCouncil President Art Murphy says the borough will crack down on residents and business owners dumping their trash in municipal containers. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The snow is just about melted away, and while that erases a lingering reminder of the pain from this winter, another icky problem is revealing itself in Red Bank.

Trash. Lots of it.

And Red Bank isn’t going to let it stick around, nor will it take a lenient approach to the people putting it out there, officials indicated Monday night.

Council President Art Murphy sent out a warning to businesses and residents, who he said have taken liberty with the borough’s trash containers on the sidewalks downtown, leading to overflowing cans and streets littered with waste.

“We had a tough winter, the snow is melting and there’s a lot of trash out there,” he said. “We do have a problem with tenants above a commercial property using our cans. I’ve seen some of the people from the businesses go out and throw their little white bag in the garbage.”

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COMMUNITY GARDEN GETS IFFY SEEDING

rbpl-maple-coveA community garden is proposed next to Maple Cove, but officials say they need to do their homework before giving it an OK. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

With the long debate over the preservation of Maple Cove echoing in the room, the Red Bank council last night parried with activist Cindy Burnham Monday night over a proposed community garden at the riverside public library.

Once again, elected officials claimed to have been caught off-guard.

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RED BANK COUNCIL CHANGES MEETING NIGHTS

rb-council-chambersCouncil meetings will now be held on Wednesday nights. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Got a concern, request or gripe of a municipal nature? Don’t bring it to Red Bank borough hall on a Monday night and expect to air it out anymore.

The governing body is moving its meeting dates over to hump day.

The council voted unanimously Monday night to accommodate an absent Councilman Mike DuPont’s new work schedule — he was recently appointed borough attorney in Sayreville, where the council also meets Mondays — and reschedule its meetings to the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month.

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DuPONT’S NEW GIG CAUSES CLASH

dupontRed Bank Councilman Mike DuPont at a council meeting last month. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

While Councilman Mike DuPont’s appointment as attorney for another town was the unmentioned reason behind his request last Monday that Red Bank change its bimonthtly meeting schedule, up in Sayreville, the appointment was an occasion for political theater.

In a dramatic council meeting in the Middlesex County town that same night, DuPont’s appointment prompted the mayor and two Republican council members to storm out because, according to local paper The Suburban, they wanted a different law firm representing the governing body and argued that the appointment circumvented the mayor’s authority.

That left the remaining four on the council to vote on whether to hire DuPont, who is a partner on Broad Street with former Red Bank Mayor Ed McKenna in the McKenna, DuPont, Higgins and Stone firm. Which they did, handing.

Can you say awkward?

“Yes it was,” DuPont told redbankgreen.

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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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PARKING BAN MULLED AFTER $470K BLIZZARD

dscf3067Red Bank officials are looking to make changes to their snow-management plans, including an on-street parking ban overnight. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

In the wake of the end-of-year snow dump, Red Bank officials have assessed the disaster they call the worst blizzard in a generation and say they are intent on making serious changes to prevent a repeat of the near half-million dollar mayhem it brought.

First up: informing the public.

Second: an overnight on-street parking ban.

It needs to happen, they say.

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DOWNTOWN, THE YEAR CHURNS TO AN END

rb-dinerVacant since May, the former East Side Cafe is getting set to reopen as the Red Bank Diner. (Click to enlarge)

rcsm2_010508By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The last time redbankgreen published a rundown of Red Bank’s downtown economy, it was a rather dour picture sprinkled with a sense of optimism.

While clusters of storefronts worked better as mirrors than as shopping destinations, RiverCenter Executive Director Nancy Adams was bullish on the borough’s economy, saying the large number of vacancies in town could be parlayed into new, exciting ventures for businesses to infuse new blood into the heart of Red Bank.

Seems Adams had a bead on the future.

Nearly a dozen new businesses have either moved in or are set to open their doors in the next couple of months, Adams said.

“There’s stuff going on. It’s kind of nice,” she said.

Here’s what’s churning in Red Bank:

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RBC RAISES KICK-IN ON BASIE FIELDS UPKEEP

count-basie-fieldsRed Bank Catholic will pay more for its use of Count Basie Fields to help defray the cost of the turf upgrades. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Red Bank Catholic‘s rent is going up.

The borough council Wednesday night voted to amend the parochial school’s annual lease of Count Basie Fields in order to help cover the $878,000 cost of a recent artificial turf job. Most of the cost — $537,500 — was covered by two grants, said borough Administrator Stanley Sickels said.

RBC will now pay $80,000 a year for use of the fields for the next 15 years, up from $55,000. It will also contribute $50,000 a year over the next three years into the field’s capital improvement fund, Sickels said.

Here’s the resolution on the agreement: 10-255draftresolution

Here’s a rundown of other happenings from Wednesday night’s council meeting:
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