WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A SMOOTHIE IN A BOWL

020316freshica4The Acai PB&J bowl from Freshica’s Juice Bar, owned by Jessica Dalmedo, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

020316freshica3It might seem counter-intuitive to put a juice bar in the same building as a luncheonette known for its porkroll, egg, and cheese sandwiches, but Jessica Dalmedo, owner of Freshica’s Juice Bar says it works.

Sharing space with Fairwinds Deli on River Road in Fair Haven for almost four years, Freshica’s counter takes up a portion of the dining area. At lunchtime, you’re likely to see a construction worker downing a sub as you are a gray-flannel suit or someone coming from the gym. Less expected: the number of children from the preschool next door taking sippy-cup-sized swigs of kale- and spinach-infused juices.
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FAIR HAVEN: FITNESS, FASHION AND FLOWERS

lisa tave 052915Lisa Tave shows off the gym bag she created, which gave rise to her new shop of the same name: Physhion. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Fair Haven’s quaint downtown saw the debuts of a pair of fresh retail faces last month:

Physhion, a boutique specializing in workout wear that doubles as all-day clothing.

• The Pink Peony, a flowers-and-gifts shop that also offers party-planning services.

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FAIR HAVEN: CLOSINGS ROCK RIVER ROAD

Nature’s Emporoium is closing after 40 years in the same location, and will be replaced by a women’s clothing boutique displaced from Sea Bright. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

As though hit by an economic hurricane, Fair Haven’s historic downtown is reeling from the abrupt loss of four well-established River Road retailers.

• Eclectic gift and clothing shop Nature’s Emporium is closing after 40 years. A women’s clothing boutique is expected to take over its space by early spring.

• Gourmet Picnic closed on Monday after a sale, according to a notice posted on the 10-year-old bakery’s front door.

• Eight-year-old Java Stop closed two weeks ago, and its cozy space will be taken over by two-year-old coffee roaster Booskerdoo, in its first expansion from Monmouth Beach.

• Write Impressions, a custom stationery and wedding invitation shop, packed it in after 32 years this weekend and downsized to a corner of a florist shop in Middletown.

Owners of three of the outgoing businesses cited the effects of a seven-month closing of the Oceanic Bridge, ending last May, among the reasons for shutting out the lights.

“There’s just no traffic,” said Write Impressions owner Christine Ancona.

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SPRINGLIKE WARMTH CONTINUES TODAY

A runner enjoyed a trot on River Road in Fair Haven as temperatures rose to the mid-60s Tuesday. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Tuesday brought an early taste of spring to the Green, with tons of sun and temperatures peaking around 63 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

Today, February debuts, nearly as warm if not so sunny, still a far cry from the winter norm.

Here’s the NWS extended forecast for the region:

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TRAGEDY AVERTED IN CHRISTMAS TREE FIRE

Volunteer Red Bank firefighters help two unidentified women recover treasured ornaments from a Christmas tree after it caught fire inside the home at 227 River Road around 5:15 p.m. Sunday.

Fire Chief Josh Sanders, who was sworn into his post two hours earlier, tells redbankgreen that the fire appears to have been electrical in origin, and involved contact with a dry tree. There was no structural damage to the home, he said. (Click to enlarge)

A CHANCE MEETING ON THE STREET

accidentalphoto_121211

redbankgreen‘s Accidental Photographer stumbled upon this busted-frame portrait just as you see it on River Road in Red Bank Saturday evening: on the ground, leaning against a pole, all by its lonesome.

What could it mean that it was out there? (Click to enlarge)

A FAIR SIGHT: FAIR HAVEN FIREMEN’S FAIR

fhfiremens-fair-2010The Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair kicks off its traditional week-plus run Friday night.

Touted as the biggest firemen’s fair in New Jersey, the event boasts feel-good qualities galore: brimming bowls of clam chowder, bird’s-eye views from atop a Ferris wheel, dizzying rides and a much-anticipated “super 50-50” drawing. Upwards of 10,000 visitors are expected.

The fair runs from 6 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights. It’s closed on Sunday, and wraps up Saturday, September 3.

A slideshow of photos from last year’s fair is here. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

A FAIR WIND CARRIES DELI DOWN THE BLOCK

fairwindsFairwinds Deli made its move down east last week. Below, the late-lunch crowd crams the counter Thursday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

fairwinds1The surest sign that the lunching public caught wind of Fairwind Deli‘s long-awaited move east could be measured by the number of bicycles outside.

By noon Saturday, the sidewalk outside 798 River Road had become a clutter of beach cruisers, ten-speeds and BMX-es, indicating what was going on inside.

“Madness,” said Warren Abrahamson, owner of the borough’s lunchtime hub for more than 30 years.

As customers shouted compliments to Abrahamson on his new digs, young employees kept taking orders and wrapping them up fast enough to beat back the snaking line inside the fresh new space.

It was pretty clear an expansion had been in order for this Fair Haven institution.

“It’s all positive” feedback, Abrahamson said. “It’s nice. All good things.”

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FAIR HAVEN SIGN WHACKED… AGAIN

fh-sign-missingVandals have apparently hit the Welcome to Fair Haven again. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Just a couple months after it was replaced, Fair Haven’s welcome sign on River Road was again a target of vandalism.

This time, though, somebody ripped the whole thing off its tall white stanchions, leaving bent metal and a hard-to-miss hole where the borough’s seal, the steamship Albertina, had stood as the official greeter to the borough.

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PAPERWORK PUTS FAIR HAVEN PLANS ON HOLD

rvr-rd-westThe River Road west streetscape is holding up a line of other projects in the borough. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Mike Halfacre, Fair Haven’s mayor, one-time Congressional hopeful and triathlete may add another exploit to his list: author.

No, not really. But, more than a year after pulling in big bucks – under a stimulus program whose existence he opposed – from the federal government for a major facelift to the west side of River Road, Halfacre says he’s got plenty of material for one.

“I will write a book someday about shovel-ready projects,” he said.

Perhaps it can be a Bildungsroman on working with the federal government, one that Halfacre said has produced small mountains of paperwork – and a backlog of other projects “all being held up by trying to do River Road west.”

“I cannot tell you how frustrating it is,” Halfacre said. “It’s a mess. I mean, even our president laughed at the shovel-ready projects a couple weeks ago.”

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AS PROMISED, RIVERVIEW TO PAINT IT BLACK

line-workerA contractor removed the pink line from the middle of Broad Street Saturday; below, the stripe as it appeared on June 1. (Above photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

pink-stripe-060111The faded-but-still-pink line running down Broad Street in Red Bank has become a sure sign: Paint the Town Pink was here. A long time ago, even.

The pink traffic line, part of Riverview Medical Center and RiverCenter‘s annual campaign to promote breast cancer awareness, has tended to last well beyond the week of PR-heavy activities within the borough. In fact, much of the the stripe from the 2010 edition was still present when a new one was laid down for this year’s event, which concluded almost six weeks ago.

But responding to criticism from towns that participate in the annual event — Red Bank, Fair Haven and Monmouth Beach — Riverview says it’s de-pinking the roads.

In Red Bank, the line is already gone, and Fair Haven’s is soon to follow.

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WANTED: RED LIGHT CAMERA IN FAIR HAVEN

fh-red-lightFair Haven’s council is looking to add a red-light camera at the intersection of River and Fair Haven roads. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

A busy River Road intersection in Fair Haven may get a red-light camera installed to catch reckless drivers.

The borough is seeking state approval for the installation of the camera at Fair Haven Road under a pilot program aimed at making roads safer, Mayor Mike Halfacre said.

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POND GETS OVERDUE WORK, AND A NAME

pomphrey-pond1Dozens of neighbors turned out for the dedication ceremony at Pomphrey’s Pond in Rumson, which recently got a long-awaited dredging. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It was a long, fetid and at times fractious wait, but it’s over at Pomphrey’s Pond, and on Saturday neighbors of the once-murky Rumson pond took a deep, odor-free breath and exhaled with relief.

Making good on a promise made last year to dredge the locally beloved pond, the borough government held a ceremony marking its completion. Officials also formalized the pond’s name, in dedication to a family who, as its de facto caretakers, have enabled memories of ice skating, fishing and a little bit of youthful recklessness for generations.

“This is sort of a rare event. We only do this about every 75 years or so,” Mayor John Ekdahl told family members at the ceremony. “So you’re a part of history.”

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KNITTERS DROP A SOFT BOMB ON FAIR HAVEN

yarn-bomb1The yarn bombers at work. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

In the craggy moments just after dawn Saturday, when not much was moving except bleary-eyed bakers and the  innards of a nearby traffic light, three women sat on a bench outside Fair Haven’s River Road Books, each with a somewhat mischievous smirk on her face, knitting.

The women — two from Fair Haven and the third from Middletown — were in the beginning stages of what was a well-planned sort of guerrilla art project, a stealth mission that toed a fine line between public art and vandalism. In ever-growing circles across the nation and beyond, it’s called yarn bombing, a paradoxical designation that instantly lends itself to head-scratching. Often, it involves wrapping trees and streetlamps in bright knits, without permission.

In this case, though, the matronly vandals had gotten an advance OK from the owner of the bench they were about to attack.

So imagine, as the sun itself needled through iron-gray skies, what passersby thought when they slowly shuffled into the corner bakery for coffee or turned to look from their cars at the stop light.

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IT’S LIGHTS OUT ON RIVER ROAD, EVENTUALLY

river-road-lightsOlder lights on River Road in Fair Haven will come down on an as-needed basis. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

River Road in Fair Haven is lit up like a runway now that new streetlights have been installed on both sides of the thoroughfare.

You may have noticed, as well, that still stationed on the stretch through downtown are the old lights, casting pallid halogen beams down over the new, old-look fixtures.

Those aren’t coming down any time soon, although they will be shut off, making for a uniform glow down the renovated streetscape of the busy road, officials say.

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SPOT-HOGGING AN ISSUE IN FAIR HAVEN

fh-parkingBusinesses say owners and employees are going over the two-hour parking limit on River and Fair Haven roads, taking precious spots away from shoppers. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

park_it_021Fair Haven’s police department is reluctant to go on a ticketing blitz downtown. But if business owners and employees keep camping at prime parking spaces, that’ll be the next course of action.

“It’s become an issue,” said Michele Berger, president of the borough’s business association, which has received complaints the last three months about owners and employees parking on River and Fair Haven roads all day. “People are asking: what are we going to do about it?”

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GOODS RECYCLED AT TOWNWIDE SALE

fh-yard-saleLauren Shanks, left, tries on a ring at Saturday town-wide yard and sidewalk sale in Fair Haven. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Lauren Shanks scanned jewelry arrayed on a display stand outside Shutters Cottage Home on River Road in Fair Haven Saturday afternoon hoping she’d spot a bargain — the second, perhaps, of the day for the Lincroft resident.

Just minutes earlier, she’d come across an unlikely steal: a birdcage.

“I’m finding a lot of good stuff,” Shanks said.

Down the street in a not-so-conspicuous location, on Lake Avenue, Mike Sena marveled at how well his items were moving as he offloaded a number of vintage rugs, handmade aprons, “tchotchke stuff” and, somewhat surprisingly, birdcages.

“She probably got it here,” Sena said of Shanks’s serendipitous purchase.

In essence, that’s what Fair Haven’s town-wide yard and sidewalk sale was there for: a far-reaching rialto, where residents could set out their extras and others could drop in, hand over cash and move on to the next find in a day-long exercise in small-town retailing.

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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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SCHOOL’S IN AT FAIR HAVEN LODGE

smart-startGene and Debbie Trotta outside the former Masonic lodge on River Road in Fair Haven, which is now home to their pre-school, Smart Start. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Its prominent brick frame rising to a spire, it had once been home to a church and later a Masonic lodge, but for the last two decades it was little more than a shell of Fair Haven’s past.

To Gene Trotta and Debbie Trotta, the River Road landmark was crying out for something.

“I looked at it for 20 years, and I always said it was meant to be a school,” said Gene.

The Trottas admired the century-old building while they went to work down the street, to the Cedar Avenue preschool they started in their late 20s, a one-floor spot with just a couple classrooms and not a hint of the history or distinct architecture they coveted on River Road.

Then, as Debbie tells it, a little bit of fate interceded, and by the time the school year started, the Colts Neck couple was busting out boarded-up windows, spreading spackle and applying a finish to original chestnut wood floors.

“Everything’s original in here,” Gene said.

Except for the owners, who have fulfilled their vision to run Smart Start Preschool within the historic walls of 786 River Road.

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READY TO HATCH IN RUMSON

easter-eggs1Residents of a home on River Road in Rumson home are either ready for Easter or have a serious a hankering for omelettes. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

FAIR HAVEN: GO SLOW ON SIGNS & PLANTERS

ped-signThe Fair Haven council wants fewer ped x-ing signs on River Road. Complaints have also been made about the number of planters and trash cans along sidewalks, below. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

plantersOn River Road heading through Fair Haven heading toward Rumson, the signs are hard to miss: large, yellow warnings of pedestrian crossings, many bunched together.

The neon-bright clusters, while clearly there for safety purposes, might be a little much. Borough leadership certainly thinks so.

“There are just so many of them, I think you could make the argument that they lose their effectiveness,” Administrator Theresa Casagrande said. “Not only is there a sign, there’s a sign saying there’s a sign coming up.”

Mayor Mike Halfacre said the signs have been there for years, but complaints have been coming in to borough hall for just as long, and the council wants Monmouth County, which is responsible for River Road, to consider reducing the number. There are at least six on each side of the road through the business district, and another four or so just before the Rumson border.

“It’s reached a point where we need to do something about it,” he said.

You might say the council needs to do something about another clutter problem in town, not far from those big, honking signs.

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FAIR HAVEN ‘FACTORY’ GETS EMMY NOD

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It’s the moment most television producers pine for: a trip to the Big Apple, a walk down the red carpet and a chance to go home with a golden-winged woman holding an atom — a coveted Emmy award.

For Fair Haven’s Chris Dudick, this dream has become reality, as he and two local children will suit up for the Emmy Awards for their nomination in the children’s programming category.

Dudick, who runs Small Factory Productions in Fair Haven, and his two local kids — Molly Siciliano of Red Bank and Kylin Lamar-McCastle of Fair Haven — received the nod last month for their Saturday morning cartoon series, Small Factory Flicks.

“It’s a black-tie event,” Dudick said. “We’re going to show up there and, hopefully, win.”

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