RED BANK: MAPLE COVE SAVED… FOR NOW?

rb rosi cove library 021214The placement of the proposed border between the library parking lot and adjoining riverfront property was a subject of debate, but all of Maple Cove will remain on the open space inventory. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The battle to save the cove is over, apparently.

The Red Bank borough council officially abandoned a plan to remove Maple Cove and a nearby riverfront property from the town’s roster of open spaces Wednesday night.

The unanimous move appears to close the book on a controversial issue that helped vault activist Cindy Burnham onto the governing body in the last election.

Not that it can’t be undone, says Burnham, the lone Republican on the six-member council.

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RED BANK: MAPLE COVE TO RETAIN SAFEGUARD

rbpl-maple-coveMaple Cove and the public library as seen in 2011. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Red Bank officials are abandoning a controversial plan to remove Maple Cove from the town’s inventory of preserved lands, the Asbury Park Press reports.

Instead, the borough council will ask the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to delist only a parking lot adjacent to the nearby public library, the Press reports.

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RED BANK: VOTE DELAYED ON RIVER SITES

maple-cove-lot1The Maple Cove parking lot during reconstruction in 2011. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Debate over how to classify parking lots at Red Bank’s Maple Cove and the nearby public library was put off for three weeks at Wednesday night’s borough council meeting.

Though the issue appeared on a draft of the meeting’s agenda, the possible delisting of the the two sites from the borough’s Recreation and Open Space Inventory, or ROSI, was removed early in the day.

The controversial issue was tabled until February 12 at the earliest, over the objections of newly installed Councilwoman Cindy Burnham, because a transcript of a three-hour public comment session held last month was not yet ready for review by the governing body, said Mayor Pasquale Menna.

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RED BANK: RIVER USERS SAY KEEP COVE LISTED

rb hearing 1 123013Borough Administrator Stanley Sickels, in foreground, listens during the comment portion of the hearing. Below, Michael Humphries of Fair Haven called for an alternative to the borough’s proposed delisting. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb hearing 2 123013Hoping to safeguard Red Bank’s only direct public access to the Navesink River, Maple Cove users and preservationists packed a meeting Monday night to combat a plan that would remove the site from the town’s inventory of preserved lands.

For more than three often-contentious hours, a standing-room audience challenged the borough rationale for the proposed delisting of two town-owned riverfront properties.

Their fear: that contrary to official assurances, the changes would clear the way for one or both sites to be sold for private development.

“The property is not being sold. It is not being turned into condos,” borough engineer Christine Ballard insisted at the outset.

Yet many of the commenters clearly weren’t buying that assertion.

“People feel it’s a first step to something nobody here wants,” Michael Humprhries, of Fair Haven, said of the proposed delisting. “There should be some way of satisfying the public that keeps that piece of property accessible.”

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RED BANK: BURNHAM STILL FIERCE ON COVE

rb parking 041713The parking lot at Maple Cove, as viewed from the library property on West Front Street. Below, Councilwoman-elect Cindy Burnham with borough Administrator Stanley Sickels at a recent fire department event. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

sickels burnham 120313Cindy Burnham may have broken the Democratic lock on Red Bank’s council, but she hasn’t abandoned the pet cause that got her there, or her style of defending it.

At several borough council meetings since winning election in November, Councilwoman-elect Burnham has stood at the commenters’ microphone and sparred with nearly all of her future colleagues on the governing body over the fate and history of Maple Cove, the town’s sole public Navesink River access. Burham is widely credited with having saved the site, at the north end of Maple Avenue, from possible development.

As she has for years, Burnham insists that the incumbents secretly want to sell the property to Hovnanian Enterprises, which owns abutting real estate. The latest evidence of the council’s intent, Burnham says, is the administration’s scheduling of a public forum on Monday, December 30, over whether to remove the site and another one at the public library from the town’s Recreation and Open Space Inventory, or ROSI.

One by one, as they have in the past, the Democrats insisted they do not, and – despite her repeated claims to the contrary – never have had plans to sell the site.

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