CHINESE, VIETNAMESE AND TATS ON TAP

temple1Temple, a Chinese restaurant, is expected to open in the former home of Torcello by the end of December. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Tired of Italian and pizza yet?

Soon enough, if plans hold, culinary options will broaden in Red Bank, with Chinese and Vietnamese eateries competing for customers on opposite sides of Broad Street.

And after dinner, if you’re up to it, maybe you can skip dessert and head across town for a tattoo.

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EJECTED FOOTBALLERS FLAG PARKS & REC

eastside-parkOfficials say Red Bank’s parks & rec commission will revisit the field-use ordinance after a group of residents was abruptly kicked out of Eastside Park Sunday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Two months ago Red Bank’s recreation commission started talking about revising its ordinance regulating the use of borough parks. It didn’t get far.

But when a public works employee punted a group of residents who were playing a pickup flag football in Eastside Park last Sunday, the incident raised questions about the borough’s field-use regulations and public works’ maintenance practices. And the backlash may have moved the previous talks to the top of a to-do list.

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VENDOR GETS COUNCIL TO PICK UP THE PACE

cin-snail1Lines formed often at the Cinnamon Snail vegan food truck at the farmers market in Red Bank this summer and fall. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi: click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Adam Sobel wakes up well before dawn Monday through Friday, hops in his kitchen-on-wheels and hauls up to Hoboken for a day’s work parked on the streets of Hoboken slinging gourmet vegan dishes to commuters and passersby.

A resident of Chestnut Street in Red Bank, he’d rather not. If Sobel had his druthers, he’d cut his commute to somewhere within the 1.7-square miles of the town where he lives with his wife and children.

In the last couple of months he’s tried to make it that way, by pushing the borough council and RiverCenter to allow him to operate in town. But aside from stationing his truck on the private property of the Galleria parking lot each Sunday at the Red Bank Farmers Market through the summer and early autumn, Sobel has done little more than spin his wheels.

Until Monday night, that is, when, with fanbase well-represented in the council chambers, Sobel got the council to see things his way.

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RETIREMENTS TO COST RED BANK $750K

rb-borough-hall-500x375Red Bank Borough Hall. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Since Governor Chris Christie enacted sweeping pension reforms this summer, two-week notices have filed into Red Bank Borough Hall. Now — as is the case in many municipalities across the state —  it’s time for town officials to figure out a payment plan.

Red Bank is on the hook for $750,000 in payouts for unused sick days and other perks as a result of 11 employee retirements, officials say. And on Monday night the council passed the first reading of an ordinance to borrow over the next five years to pay them.

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PEDESTRIAN’S DEATH PROMPTS SAFETY TALKS

maple-w-frontBorough officials have asked the state DOT to look into safety improvements at the Maple Avenue/West Front Street intersection, where a pedestrian was killed two weeks ago. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The death of a 40-year-old pedestrian two weeks ago has spurred Red Bank police and other officials into discussions with  the New Jersey Department of Transportation over safety at the intersection in which she was hit by a truck.

Additionally, local leadership is brainstorming ways to make walking on borough streets less hazardous, they say.

On the list to accomplish that goal: speed-limit reductions, more four-way stops, and changes to signs and lighting, specifically at the intersection of West Front Street and Maple Avenue, where Laura Martin was hit and killed by a New Jersey Transit truck on October 27.

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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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ABOUT THAT LAWN ORNAMENT…

podsOutdoor storage materials like this one are now being more tightly regulated. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

If you’re running out of closet space, the lawn is no longer a viable storage alternative in Red Bank.

Citing complaints from neighbors, the borough council has placed tighter control on portable outdoor storage units. They’ve been popping up around town lately, which is fine, Mayor Pasquale Menna said, but some have just been storing, not moving.

“Some of them have been there for a year,” Menna said.

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ROOM FOR DEBATE, AND A COUPLE OF LAUGHS

debate3The Westside Community Group held its fourteenth annual council candidates’ debate Wednesday night. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It was a tame affair, one that started and ended with smiles and handshakes, with serious debate and a few zingers in between.

The crowd of a couple dozen at Wednesday night’s debate of Red Bank’s council candidates was also a bit subdued, but asked about all the hot topics in town: taxes, pedestrian safety and the local economy.

It opened up with quips from Mayor Pasquale Menna, who thanked the crowd for coming to Sharon Lee’s birthday party — she turned 55 yesterday — and said Republican candidate Joe Mizzi, who sports a shaved pate and spontaneously threw out the opening remarks he prepared a month ago, had a full head of hair before he finished writing his beginning statement.

Then it got serious.

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MORE LICENSES, HIGHER FARES IN TAXI LAW

black-taxiRed Bank is expected to adopt changes made to its taxi licensing ordinance. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

After hashing out concerns with local cabbies over proposed changes to Red Bank’s taxi licensing ordinance, the borough council is poised to adopt a new version of regulations that features more licenses and “substantially reduces fees.”

But a person hopping into a cab will pay more.

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DANGEROUS INTERSECTION UNDER REVIEW

petersA police officer is now stationed at Maple Avenue and Peters Place following crossing guard John Mego’s departure. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

One of Red Bank’s busiest intersections is getting a safety review from local officials following the departure of one of its crossing guards over safety concerns.

They didn’t broach the topic Monday night until Audrey Oldoerp, a mother of three, pleaded with the council to make the intersection safer.

“If a crossing guard feels  the intersection is unsafe, how can my children and I cross with any peace of mind?” Oldoerp asked.

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FILM REGS PAUSED; TAXI TALK RETURNS

film-makingA film crew tied up the Broad Street sidewalk earlier this month to shoot a commercial. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

A proposal to implement a permit system to film in Red Bank may fall flat before it goes to a vote. In putting that idea on the shelf, the borough council pulled a controversial taxi ordinance back to the forefront after a brief summer hiatus.

As far as the film ordinance goes, some council members object to its purpose, to require film crews to apply for a permit, which would come with a fee. The idea was introduced last month to keep tabs on video activity in town and ensure production crews are following local laws.

It’s a little too Big Brother for councilmen Michael DuPont and Art Murphy.

“To me, it’s just too much government over a single thing,” Murphy said.

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STRIKING A POLITICAL POSE

menna-broad-stEven though he’s running unopposed this year, Mayor Pasquale Menna is still doing a little campaign work. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

Mayor Pasquale Menna, along with councilwomen Kathy Horgan and Sharon Lee, who are up for re-election, posed for the camera in downtown Red Bank Wednesday afternoon.

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COUNCIL DELAYS CAB CHANGES

yellow-carAny changes to the current taxi ordinance in Red Bank will have to wait while the borough council does more investigating. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

If the borough council is going to make any changes to its taxi ordinance, it’s going to make sure they are the right ones, Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna said Monday night, when a scheduled adoption of the amended ordinance was tabled.

The delay comes two weeks after the council proposed changes to its ordinance that would place tighter controls on cab owners and operators, some of whom are believed to be hording licenses in an effort to tamp down competition. But since the ideas were brought forward, the council has received a deluge of comments and critiques from those in the business, and the council is listening.

“If we’re going to make changes to the ordinance, they should be the best possible changes,” Menna said.

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CLUCK U, TOO: COUNCIL TO TARGET DECALS

cluck-u-stickerMore stickers have been found on borough property since the issue came up in May, Councilman Michael DuPont says. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Red Bank’s borough council is ready to go beak-to-beak with a chicken-wing business it says is marring municipally-owned property with advertising.

Councilman Michael DuPont said he’s noticed that since the council raised the issue back in May, when Mayor Pasquale Menna raised the idea of fining businesses for having stickers on borough property, more stickers have shown up on signs in town. A prominent offender, DuPont said, is Cluck-U Chicken, of the City Centre strip mall on Water Street.

“Cluck-U Chicken has desecrated our signs,” DuPont said.

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FINAL BUDGET HANGS ON CWA FURLOUGHS

art-murphy

Council President Art Murphy conferred with Attorney Tom Hall during Tuesday night’s special meeting on the budget. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The Red Bank Council introduced amendments to its $19.2 million proposed budget at a special meeting Tuesday night that was over so quickly it was as if the six council members were double-parked out on Monmouth Street.

Of course, the meeting might have been prolonged by input from the public, but there wasn’t any.

Instead, the council will likely adopt the spending plan, which carries a 2.3 cent tax increase per $100 of assessed home value over last year’s rate, on June 14. That means for a property assessed at the average $405,522, tax bills will go up by $93, said Frank Mason, the borough’s financial officer.

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UNION FURLOUGHS, SATURDAY PARKING OK’D

tauroKevin Tauro, who represents borough employees, gives the Red Bank council an earful Monday night. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

[Editor’s note: This article was updated at 12:50p to include a comment from the PBA and a copy of the PBA press release, below]

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

On a night that the borough’s budget was to be adopted, Red Bank officials instead made other financial news by announcing that free Saturday parking will become a thing of the past and police will take furlough days in order to fill a wide budget gap.

And despite the borough’s other union refusing to accept furlough days, the council will impose them anyway in order to avoid laying workers off, said Mayor Pasquale Menna.

In all, the borough will see a savings of $33,000 a day by furloughing its 178 or so employees for three days each, said Councilman Michael DuPont.

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RED BANK GIVES LAST OK ON RBR CUTS

hot-topic rightBy DUSTIN RACIOPPI

A week after delaying a vote on reductions to Red Bank Regional‘s failed $24 million budget, the borough council gave the green light on $270,500 in recommended cuts at a special meeting Tuesday night.

Sports, clubs and programs are spared in the new spending plan, but eight positions will be eliminated, Superintendent Howard Lucks tells redbankgreen.

“It did include eliminating positions. It included a wage freeze [for Lucks]. It included a reduction in force,” Councilman Michael DuPont said.

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MENNA TAKES ON STICKER SHOCK

rb-signs2Signs downtown have been plastered with stickers, particularly those touting Red Bank businesses, Mayor Pasquale Menna says. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Mayor Pasquale Menna has a message for certain businesses in town: Your days of free advertising on Red Bank property are numbered.

He says borough-owned signs — particularly parking signs downtown — have become inundated with stickers, many of them touting local businesses.

“It’s becoming increasingly prevalent,” he said. “It’s not fair, it’s unsightly, it’s an environmental issue and it’s a quality of life issue.”

Menna wants to do something about. At last week’s council meeting, he suggested that the borough create an ordinance that requires whatever entity that can be traced to the “graffiti” remove it in a timely fashion or face a penalty of some sort.

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COUNCIL WANTS MORE INFO ON RBR CUTS

rbr-signRBR will likely have more layoffs and program cuts since its budget failed last month, officials warn. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The Red Bank Borough Council wants more specifics before it votes on a resolution that would call for additional layoffs and program cuts at Red Bank Regional.

Voter rejection last month of the high school’s $24 million budget has already resulted in layoff notices to 70 employees, according to one report. But faced with approving an additional $270,500 in reductions on Monday night, the council held off, members said, because there wasn’t enough information from school officials on how that figure was reached.

“Where’s the $270,000 from? What number is that?” a visibly peeved Council President Art Murphy asked Councilman Michael DuPont, who heads the borough finance committee. “That’s what I want to know.”

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TAX HIKE, FURLOUGHS IN RED BANK BUDGET

stanley-sickelsBorough Administrator Stanley Sickels gave an overview of Red Bank’s budget Monday night. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

In an effort to shrink its budget, Red Bank won’t pick up the cost of police overtime associated with the annual KaBoom! fireworks show this year, officials said Monday night.

They’re also looking at imposing 10-day furloughs for all borough government employees except crossing guards, leaving a vacant police captain’s job open and withholding raises from non-union employees.

Still, all that won’t enable them to hold the line on taxes.

As proposed Monday night, Red Bank’s $19.2 million spending plan will carry a 2.3 cent increase per $100 of assessed property value — from 46.2 cents in 2009 to 48.5 cents this year. The 2009 budget totaled $19.5 million.

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KNOCKING OUT KNOCKING

no-knock2

If Red Bank passes a ‘No Knock’ ordinance, signs like this, on Broad Street, won’t be needed. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It’s a scenario almost any homeowner or renter has been through at least once: The doorbell rings, you answer and there’s a smarmy stranger on the porch trying to sell you a magazine subscription or convert you to a new religion.

These visits tend to be unwanted, and Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna intends to do something about them.

At his urging, the borough council is considering an ordinance that would prohibit peddlers, solicitors and any other group or organization that can be constitutionally included from making visits to homes that are on a “do not knock” list.

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SENKELESKI READY FOR SUMMIT OF SORTS

CodecarAmong the suggestions: share vehicles among departments. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

On Monday, Red Bank’s borough council plans to roll out its 2010-11 budget.

Two days later, the public will have its first chance to kick the tires and ask how it was designed and built.

Kim Senkeleski will be there. But the one-time GOP council candidate will be armed with some blueprints of her own, in the form of several dozen specific suggestions she’s gathered from taxpayers about how to cut costs and bring taxes down.

Though in format the event isn’t exactly the taxpayer summit she had sought, Senkeleski suggests you make the meeting, too.

“We want as many people as possible,” she said.

The more people involved, she says, the better the chances at making a difference to the digits on your tax bill.

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GROUP SEEKS FAIR TRADE CERT IN RED BANK

fair-trade-bagBags like this one, and Fair Trade products, may become more prevalent in Red Bank. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Red Bank has held several appellations in its storied century-plus on the Navesink, both flattering and blunt. The infamous ‘Dead Bank’ comes to mind, but has since been supplanted, in many circles, by ‘Hip City.’

It’s also known, if you pay close enough attention to the signs when entering the borough, as a Tree City USA.

Amber Graves wants to add another tag to the borough.

“Red Bank should not only be known as Hip City, but also as a Fair Trade town,” she told the borough council on Monday, as part of an effort by a group to win national certification from a group called Fair Trade Towns USA.

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MORE YMCA DISCUSSION? Y NOT?

poku-councilWilliam Poku of Bank Street addresses the council. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

What would a municipal meeting in Red Bank be these days without at least a little talk about the Community YMCA?

Shorter, for one.

The borough council, despite tabling a YMCA-related item on its agenda to a later date, gave attendees a chance to opine on the matter Monday night.

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STATE AID CUT FORCES ‘SEVERE CHOICES’

dupontCouncilman Michael DuPont delivers the bad news Monday night. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Layoffs, furloughs and a reduction in services, once considered elements of a worst-case scenario, will now be a reality in Red Bank, officials said Monday.

“We’ve made some severe choices, we’re going to make severe choices, and you’re going to see them,” Councilman Michael DuPont, who chairs the finance committee, said at last night’s Borough Council meeting.

The grim news comes on the heels of word that the borough, already saddled with what officials have called the extraordinary burden of providing services to a large number of tax-exempt nonprofits, will see a drop of $517,144 in state aid this year. Traditionally the borough has received $2.5 million, DuPont said.

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