RUMSON: MAN INDICTED IN OVERDOSE DEATH

oxford rumson 2 011214.JPGRumson officials said they learned that Oxford House had created the recovery home at 61 South Ward Avenue only after a resident’s death there. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03An Avon-by-the-Sea man has been indicted for the overdose death of a resident of Rumson’s Oxford House addiction recovery facility, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni announced Monday.

Michael Renna, 26 of Sylvania Avenue,  faces two counts arising from the October 2013 death of 25-year-old Christopher L. Pesce, according to Gramiccioni.

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RUMSON: MAN CHARGED IN OXFORD O.D.

oxford rumson 2 011214.JPGThe overdose death of an Oxford House resident has resulted in charges against a man described by authorities as an acquaintance.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

An Avon-by-the-Sea man has been charged for allegedly supplying the heroin that led to the overdose death of a resident of Rumson’s Oxford House rehab facility last October, the Monmouth County Prosecutor announced Tuesday.

Michael Renna, 25, was charged with one count of first degree strict liability for a drug-induced death and one count of third-degree distribution of a controlled dangerous substance, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said in a prepared statement.

News about the death of 25-year-old Christopher Pesce was the first that word that nearby residents had that the recovery residence had opened two months earlier in their residential corner of Rumson, and ignited a firestorm of objections.

It also led to a pair of countervailing lawsuits by the borough and Oxford House, litigation that now appears to be close to settlement.

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RED BANK LOADS UP ON POTHOLE FIXER

rb pothole 022114A Red Bank DPW worker fills potholes at East Front Street and Washington Street with cold patch last week. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

It’s white-knuckle driving season in Red Bank as motorist navigate jagged, gaping potholes in the aftermath of several weeks of snowy and icy weather.

Reports of flat tires, busted axles and near-miss accidents are common.

What are the road crews doing about it? Filling holes with a temporary asphalt product called cold patch, DPW supervisor Bobby Holiday tells redbankgreen.

But finding the stuff was a bit nervewracking in itself.

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RUMSON: OXFORD HOUSE FILES FEDERAL SUIT

oxford rumson 1 011214Oxford House says in a court filing that the group home at 61 South Ward Avenue is getting new residents. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Oxford House has gone on the legal offensive against Rumson.

The parent organization of the embattled group home for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts filed a federal lawsuit against the borough on Friday, alleging discrimination in violation of fair housing and Americans with Disabilities laws.

The suit claims the town and borough Administrator Tom Rogers “have interfered with operation and occupancy” of the residence in the aftermath of two drug overdoses at the house since it opened in August – one resulting of the death of a 25-year-old Holmdel man in October, and the second in December, in which a resident required emergency treatment.

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RUMSON: ALL QUIET AT OXFORD HOUSE

oxford rumson 2 011214.JPGThe manager of Oxford Houses for New Jersey says the Rumson group home is still occupied, but declines to say if there’s a proctor on site. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rumson officials failed in their attempt to get a court order forcing a group home for recovering addicts to be vacated. But they appear to have effectively gotten what they wanted:
an empty Oxford House.

Or have they?

Contrary to the impressions of town officials and some neighbors, “it’s not vacant,” according to George Kent, who manages the house, at 61 South Ward Avenue, for the nonprofit Oxford House.

If it’s not vacant, tid Oxford follow through on a purported plan to change the facility from all-male to one for women and children?

“All I can say is nothing’s changed,” Kent told redbankgreen last week. “There’s people living there.”

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SEA BRIGHT: SPIRIT IN THE NIGHT

Two charities – Sea Bright Rising and Ama Ristorante’s Building Permit Relief Fund – with the common mission of helping Sea Bright victims of Hurricane Sandy rebuild their homes and businesses were the beneficiaries of festivities at Driftwood Cabana Club Monday that culminated in a spectacular fireworks show.

Daylong downpours halted, a rainbow appeared, and a pyrotechnics show billed as New Jersey’s largest this Independence Day week lit up the sky above the Atlantic Ocean and Sea Bright as thousands looked on. redbankgreen was at Driftwood to capture the spectacle. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click the embiggen symbolto enlarge)

 

M’TOWN: BOATER IN FATAL CRASH INDICTED

George Harrington being placed under arrest for drunken driving of a boat shortly after the 2011 crash. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

[Editor’s note: See update below]

The pilot of a boat that smashed into another on the Navesink River almost two years ago has been indicted on vehicular homicide charge, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s office announced Tuesday.

George Harrington, 41, of Browns Dock Road in Middletown, is alleged in a grand jury indictment handed up Monday to have been under the influence of liquor or drugs when a Boston Whaler he was piloting plowed into a vessel near buoy 20, between Middletown and Fair Haven, on July 23, 2011.

Christopher Plante, 50, of Keansburg, was killed in the crash.

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SEA BRIGHT: AMA TAKES IT TO THE BEACH


Chef Chuck Lesbirel (left) gets some assistance from Pat Trama prepping artichokes and baby beets for Friday night’s opening of Ama Ristorante in Sea Bright. (Photo by Stacie Fanelli. Click to enlarge.)

By STACIE FANELLI

Pat Trama wasn’t surprised to see one of his regulars, pregnant and craving his signature mussels, standing at the bottom of the stairs to his new, yet-to-open restaurant with a pan, begging him to get cooking.

He’s been getting a lot of demand since Ama Ristorante Tuscana closed its doors in Atlantic Highlands three months ago to relocate to a bigger, better version at the Driftwood Cabana Club in Sea Bright.

The new location will open for dinner Friday after a summerlong wait for loyal customers.

“There’s probably 90 of those people out there saying, ‘I’m dying for the mussels. I jonesing for it’,” said Trama, Ama’s chef and co-owner.

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CHURN: COMICS, FURNITURE, BURGERS & MORE

The reality show about comic book aficionados is being taped once again at Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash as well as at 28 Broad Street, above. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Production of the second, full season of ‘Comic Book Men’ got underway Monday, giving a prominent vacancy in downtown Red Bank something to do for the next 10 weeks while its owners continue trying to attract a more permanent tenant.

The reality show, which had a limited run earlier this year on AMC, is set in Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, owned by filmmaker Kevin Smith, and follows the jostlings of the shop’s employees and customers.

Additional footage, featuring Smith and an Algonquin Rectangular Table of comic book aficionads shooting the breeze, is to be recorded on a sound stage built across the street from the store, at 28 Broad.

That’s the former home of Prima’s Home Café, a furnishings store that vacated back in January, when the building changed hands for $1.175 million, according to property records.

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LONG-VACANT SPACE GETTING YOGURT SHOP

blissberry1Blissberry customers serve themselves and pay by the weight of their purchases, says the shop’s owner. (Click to enlarge)

Rcsm2_010508A Red Bank storefront that’s been vacant for at least four years is finally getting a tenant: Blissberry Frozen Yogurt.

Last occupied by the Internet-forgotten Altamonte Imports, the space at 90 Broad is tucked between Pho Le, a Vietnamese restaurant that opened in May, and Linda Martino’s beauty supply store Lux, which opened last year.

Owner Jill Pecoraro of Colts Neck says her shop is the first of an emerging franchise chain to hit New Jersey.

“There’s nothing like it around here,” she tells redbankgreen.

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COPS: WHALER ‘RODE OVER’ VICTIM’S BOAT

buoy-20Saturday night’s fatal boat collision occurred near Buoy 20, seen here from Rich Stavola’s Navesink River Road home, where authorities based their rescue operations. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

A combination of alcohol and speed led to the death of a 50-year-old Keansburg man in a late-night boating accident on the Navesink River Saturday, authorities said Monday.

George Harrington, 39, of Atlantic Highlands, was “operating at a fairly high rate of speed” at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday when his 20-foot Boston Whaler, carrying five passengers, hit a Stingray operated by Christopher Plante in the area of Buoy 20 in the Middletown section of the river, State Police Sergeant Stephen Jones tells redbankgreen.

Harrington’s boat “rode over the stern of Plante’s vessel,” Jones said.

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BUONA SERA LANDS ACCESS TO PRIZED LOT

buona-sera-parking2Buon Sera now has dibs on a primo parking lot in downtown Red Bank. (Click to enlarge)

park_it_021By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

A parking lot once coveted by Red Bank officials is doing double duty, but still for the private sector.

Buona Sera restaurant now has nighttime and weekend dibs on a lot at the corner of Monmouth Street and Maple Avenue that’s reserved during school hours for Red Bank Catholic High School.

The popular restaurant and catering hall entered into a contract with property owner Stavola Leasing to use the lot last week, said Buona Sera owner Chris Mariano.

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STAVOLA GETS GREEN LIGHT ON PARKING LOT

stavola-p-lotThe paved patch of land at the corner of Maple Avenue and Monmouth Street will get a fringe of greenery. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Red Bank’s Planning Board gave formal approval Wednesday night to the owners of property on the corner of Maple Avenue and Monmouth Street to do what they’re already doing: use the site as a parking lot.

After a tiff last month, when the president of site owner Stavola Leasing balked at the board’s requests to spruce up the property, the owners yielded to the board’s wishes in order to get the approval.

That means in exchange for the company must put up a sign and line the perimeter of the property with bushes, of which there are already 68 of on order, said lawyer Marty McGann, representing Stavola. Clothing donation bins, a major eyesore to the board, have already been removed from the site.

“He gave it some thought and decided to do it,” McGann said.

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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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BOROUGH EYES LOT FOR PARKING

stavola-propThe former Tubby’s Shell filling station, at the corner of Maple Avenue and Monmouth Street, was razed late last week. Borough hall is visible at right.

Feeling pinched for parking spaces at borough hall, Red Bank officials have an eye on a high-profile lot across Maple Avenue for a temporary solution.

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