A WONDROUS ‘WEB’ DESIGNER AT WORK

charlottesRumson’s Matt Hughes, left, appears with Maureen Torsney-Weir, Rachel Brudner and (as Wilbur the Pig) Garrett Neergaard, in Two River Theater Company’s staging of CHARLOTTE’S WEB. (Photos by T. Charles Erickson)

By TOM CHESEK

If you see just one spider-themed stage production this season, let it be Charlotte’s Web.

Actually, that’s not fair to everyone’s favorite wallopin’ websnapper, Spider-man, who’s facing more than his usual share of adversity as he struggles to get his $60 million-plus  Broadway baby swinging. But if you’re on the lookout for something to take the kids to here in December — something a little different from the usual figgy pudding — there’s a fine family outing ready to serve, and it’s as close as your friendly neighborhood professional theater.

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M’TOWN ESTATE PLAN IRKS NEIGHBORS

hillendale-farm-2Arthur and Leslie Parent’s plan to subdivide a portion of the former Hillandale Farm has some neighbors alarmed. Below, a detail of the proposed plan. (Click to enlarge)

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On the agenda for tonight’s zoning board meeting in Middletown: a plan to subdivide a 5.1-acre property in the upscale Chapel Hill area that has neighbors concerned about a change in character to the the cloistered area of large estates.

The applicants are Arthur and Leslie Parent, who bought the 5.1-acre property and its 12,000-square-foot house for $1.3 million last December, just days before they sold their Red Bank residence to cable funnyman Jon Stewart for $3 million, according to Monmouth County tax records.

The Parents want to cut the parcel into two unequal-sized lots, and have no immediate plans to build on the proposed new lot, according to documents on file.

But that hasn’t stilled concern among neighbors, who complain a township OK would leave an enormous house on one lot, set a precedent for the construction of another, and result in the loss of buffering trees between giant estates.

“It really would be a very significant change of character for the area,,” says John Moody, whose Independence Road property abuts the Parent’s.

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FIRE DAMAGES LITTLE SILVER HOME

alden-fire-1With two firefighters manning Shrewsbury’s aerial ladder, a fireman knocks down the last of the flames under the eaves of a Little Silver home Friday night. (Click to enlarge)

Fire caused extensive damage to a Little Silver residence Friday night.

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SINATRA AND BASIE, TOGETHER IN RED BANK

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John Alden of Middletown (left) and Cara Smith of Rumson (right) pay tribute to the Chairman, as Red Bank’s Joe Muccioli (center) and the Jazz Arts Project present the fourth annual Sinatra Birthday Bash this Friday night.

By TOM CHESEK

It happens every December over at the Count Basie Theatre — and, in a surprise twist, it has nothing whatsoever to do with red-cheeked nutcrackers, reformed misers and various rockings around the Christmas tree.

It’s the Sinatra Birthday Bash, the fourth annual edition of which goes up on Friday night in Red Bank. Produced by the borough-based Jazz Arts Project, the concert offers a chance to hear a variety of voices pay tribute to the iconic Chairman of the Board, who would have marked his 95th lap around the sun this Sunday. They’ll be saluting Ol’ Blue Eyes in song with the accompaniment of the 18 piece Red Bank Jazz Orchestra — and they’ll be doing it on the stage of the venerable venue named for one of Sinatra’s favorite frequent collaborators, William “Count” Basie.

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SEA BRIGHT POWER MAY BE OUT FOR DAYS

Red Bank resident Robert Bruce shot this video of a power line arcing over a parking lot at the Red Bank Train Station early Wednesday afternoon.

Wednesday’s wind-driven storm left downtown Sea Bright closed to traffic and without electricity, police Chief John Sorrentino tells redbankgreen.

Residents of the west end of New Street were displaced from their homes when a trio of utility poles came down in the storm, and a woman estimated to be in her early 20s went to a nearby hospital with non-life-threatening injuries after suffering an electrical shock, Sorrentino said.

Power may not be restored until Friday, he said.

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PARKER BOULEVARD DETOUR ENDS

drs-parker-112110A portion of the heavily-traveled Drs. James Parker Boulevard in Red Bank that was shut down for 10 days has reopened after a rebuilding of the New Jersey Transit grade crossing. (Click to enlarge)

JON STEWART GOES FOR TWO ON NAVESINK

stewart_1024Jon Stewart’s riverfront houses on Alston Court, left, and Fisher Place, right, represent a combined $7 million investment in Red Bank, not counting major renovations now underway on one house. (Click to enlarge)

jon-stewart-coverJon Stewart has doubled down on Red Bank.

The host of Comedy Central’s ‘The Daily Show,” who quietly paid $3.8 million for a riverfront home on Alston Court late last year, has supplemented that buy with the equally hush-hush purchase of the adjoining property one lot to the west, on Fisher Place, redbankgreen has learned.

Property records show Stewart, through an entity called Red Bank River Trust, paid $3.2 million in June for the second property, the former home of Kerri and Pat McGeehan. P.J. Rotchford, manager of the Gloria Nilson Realtors office in Rumson, which was involved in the transaction, confirmed that the trust is Stewart’s.

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POLICE PAY IN SLEDGER SPOTLIGHT

hot-topic rightSunday’s Star-Ledger had an eye-opening article on police salaries in New Jersey.

Analyzing 2009 pay data from police departments throughout the state, the Sledger concluded that

the average municipal cop in New Jersey is paid 80 percent more than the average resident, and three of 10 made at least $100,000 last year. In addition, police tend to be paid the best in small towns with little crime.

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YARD SALE RETURNS FOR THIRD YEAR

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Registration is now open for the third annual Red Bank Townwide Yard Sale, scheduled for Saturday, September 25.

Event co-sponsor redbankgreen has created a new yard sale website to serve as the clearinghouse for information about the event, which last year drew thousands of visitors to more than 125 homes across town.

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COPS: CRIME SPREE INCLUDED BUTCHER SHOP

hot-topic rightThe expanding set of charges against accused burglar Carl VonPier of Fair Haven has grown yet again, this time to include a Red Bank business among his alleged victims.

The 19-year-old Fair Haven man has now been charged by Red Bank police with burglarizing Citarella’s Market on Prospect Avenue last month.

VonPier was arrested in Colts Neck on July 27 after police apprehended him during an alleged break-in attempt at the Colts Neck Shopping Center.

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PEDESTRIAN UPGRADES DUE ON FRONT STREET

monmouth-bumpout-072610Traffic-calming bumpouts on Monmouth Street. Similar configurations may be in store for Front Street. (Click to enlarge)

A stretch of Front Street in Red Bank is slated for design changes aimed at improving pedestrian and biker safety, according to a planning group that doles out federal funds for transportation projects.

The North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority says it plans to spend about $500,000 to make the “Front Street/River Road corridor” safer through the installation of new sidewalk and crosswalk configurations and other devices.

An announcement by the NJTPA, which serves as a metropolitan planning authority for 13 New Jersey counties, including Monmouth County, does not specify where along the corridor the improvements will take place, or when. A call to an agency spokesman was not immediately returned Tuesday morning.

But Monmouth County Freeholder John D’Amico is quoted in the announcement as calling out the stretch in the area of Riverview Medical Center.

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HOMES WITHOUT JUICE AS TEMPS SOAR

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Electrical service was out for some customers of First Energy Corp. — parent of JCP&L — in Fair Haven and Rumson this morning as temperatures were expected to crest at nearly 100 degrees.

As of 6:30a, First Energy’s online outage map indicated fewer than 500 homes without power, but doesn’t specify if that’s the total per town or collectively in the region.

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FIRST NIGHT OF THE FIREWORKS FAIR

KaBoomfest, the new three-night slate of events leading up to the 51st annual Red Bank fireworks show Saturday night, kicked off Thursday night with the opening of a traveling amusement park on West Front Street, opposite Riverside Gardens Park.

Photographer Peter Lindner was there for redbankgreen. Were you? He may have caught you in his pixels, so check out these pix. And please remember: this is a community-supported event, so look for those yellow buckets and Kick in for KaBoom!

To enlarge the photo display, start it, then click the embiggen symbol in the lower right corner. To get back to redbankgreen, hit your escape key.

DING! KA-CHING!

ferrari-hitA Red Bank patrol car had a fender-bender with a Ferrari 599 GTB (starting price: around $310,000) that was passing behind it on Broad Street during the third annual ‘Raduo D’Eleganza (Event of Elegance)’ Ferrari rally held downtown Sunday. Details of the accident were not immediately available from the police department Monday. (Click to enlarge)

Alan Placer shot video of the Ferraris arriving in town. Vroom, vroom.

HOV HIT WITH $1 MILLION IN FINES

hov-hq-8-12-06Hovnanian’s headquarters, at the foot of Maple Avenue in Red Bank. (Click to enlarge)

Red Bank-based homebuilder Hovnanian Enterprises has agreed to pay $1 million for violations of federal Clean Water Act rules at 591 construction sites across the country, according to a federal Justice Department announcement.

The payment settles civil accusations that the company failed to obtain necessary permits before beginning construction or not getting them at all in 18 states and in Washington, D.C.

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RED BANK CLAIMS LESS OVERCROWDING

21-lindenThis house at 21 Linden Place was the most-cited for overcrowding and related violations in 2009, borough records show. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Overcrowding of rental homes is on the decline in Red Bank, borough officials say, citing two years of enforcement data.

The purported drop is occurring in part because the borough adopted stricter rules and the code enforcement department is keeping a closer eye out for tell-tale signs of violations, says Administrator Stanley Sickels.

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A HOTEL TAKE ON HOSPITAL CARE

riverview-100409Riverview Medical Center officials hope to bring a touch of the suite life to hospital stays.

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

You can get so much accomplished at Riverview Medical Center these days that a patient might be hard pressed to find a reason to go home.

The hospital launched a pilot program last month called Concierge Care, a comprehensive service designed to pamper patients and their visitors. Hospital brass say they spent 18 months investigating and designing the service with people from five-star hotels and resorts. Through a third party, the hospital has worked out deals with local businesses and vendors to offer what it calls hotel perks.

Need to get your car fixed? Want to get tickets to see a show at the Two River Theater? Rather order takeout from one of those pizza places in town than eat in the hospital commisary? The service will get it done for you.

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STAVOLA, PLANNERS SPAR OVER PARKING LOT

img_6982012120It seems the Maple Avenue lot across from Borough Hall, at left, is going to remain a parking facility for at least another couple of years.  (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Going into Wednesday night’s Red Bank Planning Board meeting, it appeared that a few questions might finally be answered concerning the gas station-turned-private-parking lot across the street from borough hall, the biggest being: when might an approved store and apartment project be built there?

Not anytime soon, was the answer. 

At issue though, was the matter of whether to allow the property owner, Stavola Leasing, to operate a parking lot on the site in the interim. And the matter turned into a subject of a heated exchange between board members and Stavola representatives.

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RIVER’S EDGE SEEKS RETURN TO COZINESS

bob-guidoRiver’s Edge Café owner Bob Guido says he’s been trying to sell the lease to his Broad Street location for about a year so he can move into a smaller space. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

For more than a decade, Bob Guido had himself a cozy little business serving breakfast and lunch on Red Bank’s West Front Street, often with lines forming out the door.

But after 13 years running the River’s Edge Café in the spot now occupied by Muscle Maker Grille, it became clear to Guido that he needed more space than the 50-seater afforded him. One option was to buy the Elks Lodge next door, but that didn’t work out, which led him to where he is now, at the spacious, high-profile restaurant at 35 Broad Street.

“In 2003, everything was humming,” he said. “We used to have a line at the old place. I saw Broad Street as an answer to expansion.”

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RED BANK ARTS ON TAP FOR STATE AWARDS

two-river-theater-extAmong the candidates for ‘best professional theater’ is the Two River Theater.

Several mainstays of Red Bank’s celebrated arts venues and entertainment scene, including two whose future ties to town are uncertain, are up for the Discover Jersey Arts People’s Choice Awards for 2009.

The Two River Theater CompanyCount Basie Theater and the Borough of Red Bank are all nominated. So is the Red Bank Jazz & Blues Festival, which may not happen at its usual spot in Marine Park this June due to major construction there.

Also on the ballot is the capricious Red Bank International Film Festival, which went on hiatus for 2008 and popped up again last May, shrunken and no longer actually in Red Bank.

But those whose box offices still buzz within the borough borders are imploring anyone with a mouse and internet connection to support their local arts scene as it competes against the state’s other nominees.

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HIGH VOLTAGE ROCKERS AIM FOR THE STARS

The video for Six Volt’s ‘Girl Next Door’ features some locations that may be familiar to locals.

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

For the last few months, in a nondescript Red Bank rehearsal studio, a group of driven high school kids have been subtly plotting a takeover of the national teenage music scene. And there isn’t a doubt in any one of their minds that it will happen.

Think Miley Cyrus. Think Jonas Brothers.

But there’s something that separates Six Volt from those two mega-acts, says their manager, Granger Whitelaw.

“They’re not backed on stage with professional musicians,” says Whitelaw, also the father of guitarist Granger Whitelaw Jr. “This is a band of musicians who are extremely talented. These guys are so tight it’s unbelievable.”

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BON JOVI BRINGS ‘SOUL’ FOOD TO CHURCH

st-anthonySt. Anthony of Padua transforms into the Soul Kitchen on Friday nights, offering a community restaurant through a partnership with the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

You can add restaurateur to the résumé of Jon Bon Jovi.

Through his non-profit JBJ Soul Foundation, the megapopstar musician has teamed with St. Anthony of Padua to open a “community restaurant” they call the Soul Kitchen to offer fine meals to the indigent. There are no prices posted. If you can afford to make a donation, they’ll take it. If not, then you volunteer at the restaurant to work off your fare.

Operating most Friday nights since November, the innovative eatery has gotten a “phenomenal response,” said Ed Markiewicz, who runs the church’s food pantry.

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