RED BANK: SNOW TOSSERS TO FACE TICKETS

red bank nj snowstorm 2014How it’s done: a snowblower pointed away from Broad Street during a storm in January, 2014. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank njYou know who they are: the folks who shovel snow from their property into the street after plows have been through. Hey, maybe you’ve done it yourself.

Red Bank officials say it’s a costly pain in the neck, and plan to make it a violation enforced with “zero tolerance.”

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RED BANK: NEW FOUR-WAY STOP GOES LIVE

RED BANK nj 4-way stopWith the installation of oversized stop signs Wednesday, a new four-way stop is now in effect at East Bergen Place and South Street in Red Bank.

The big signs will also be posted at Oakland and Pearl streets, where the borough council created another four-way stop last year, said public works Director Cliff Keen.

Don’t know how a four-way stop works?

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RED BANK: COUNCIL MULLS STREET ISSUES

red bank snow storm 2014A plow clearing Broad Street during a storm in March, 2014. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Stop signs, snow removal, street sweeping and other road-related issues were on the agenda at the Red Bank borough council’s workshop session Wednesday night.

Some new ordinances are expected to follow.

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RED BANK: BROKEN PIPE BLAMED FOR SEWAGE

The house at 251 Drs. Parker Boulevard had human waste spilling into the side yard from a pipe through the basement wall for at least two years, a neighbor said. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A routine Red Bank zoning board hearing took disturbing turn last week.

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RUMSON: UTILITIES TO GO BELOW RIVER

Natural gas and water supply lines are to be tunneled beneath the Shrewsbury River between Rumson Road in Rumson, above, and Sea Bright. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Residents of Rumson and Sea Bright may see an unusual construction project as early as next month, when two utility companies run new service lines connecting the towns 25 feet below the floor of the Shrewsbury River.

Municipal and utility officials said they expect minimal disruption to traffic during the monthlong project, when New Jersey Natural Gas and New Jersey-American Water plan to drill beneath the river from Sea Bright to Rumson and then pull about a quarter-mile of piping across the span.

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ON THE GREEN: RELATIVELY COOLER

rb cupola 072616After a string of days with temperatures in the 90s, things will cool off a bit on the Greater Red Bank Green Wednesday, according to forecasts. Under sunny skies, temperatures will peak at about 88 degrees, according to the Weather Underground, which should make work a bit easier for the crew refurbishing the cupola atop the United Methodist Church on Broad Street in Red Bank. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

 

RUMSON: STORM PROMPTS CANCELLATION

rumson storm 072616 1rumson storm 072616 2Tuesday’s camp activity schedule for Victory Park in Rumson was canceled after high winds and heavy rain tore through town Monday evening, leaving wires downed on Lafayette Street, above, and South Ward Avenue, right. Dozens of homes in Rumson, and hundreds in Middletown, lost electrical power in the storm, but nearly all were back online by dawn Tuesday, according to JCP&L.

Tuesday’s weather outlook is for most sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-90s. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

 

RED BANK: WEST SIDE GOES DARK, BRIEFLY

rb outage 051116 2rb outage 051116 1A portion of Red Bank’s West Side, including a stretch of Shrewsbury Avenue, above, was briefly without electricity Tuesday night as a result of a burned wire at Bridge Avenue and Chestnut Street, right. First Energy/JCP&L reported about 427 customers affected in the 90-minute outage before power was restored at 10 p.m.

During the outage, volunteer firefighters responded to a report of a gas leak on a darkened block of Shrewsbury Avenue near Monmouth Street. Fire Chief Chris Soden said no evidence of a leak was detected; other neighbors reported smelling a skunk or marijuana. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

 

RED BANK: TAXPAYER BUDGET Q&A SLATED

rb boro hall 041416taxesFor the 10th year in a row, Red Bank borough government department heads are scheduled to offer presentations on their 2016 budget proposals at a public information session scheduled for Wednesday, May 18 at at borough hall.

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RED BANK: PARKING IDEA SPUTTERS

rb white meter 112415A proposal to extend meter enforcement hours appeared to get no traction Wednesday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

taxesThe Red Bank council postponed the introduction of the first majority-Republican budget in a generation Wednesday.

Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer, who’s heading up the budget-writing finance committee, said she wanted more time to hear suggestions from residents and business owners on how to reduce a prospective tax increase.

But one of Schwabenbauer’s own suggestions — increasing the number of hours for which metered parking is in effect — appeared to be a non-starter.

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RED BANK: GOP DRAFT BUDGET HAS TAXES UP

schwabenbauer 010216 2Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer, who heads the finance committee, says there’s been a “severe” drop in revenue from last year along with an increase in expenses. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

taxesThe first majority-Republican Red Bank budget in a generation is set to make its debut this week, and it comes with a likely tax hike.

While officials are hopeful they can trim the increase, the draft budget shows a 5.5-percent jump in the municipal levy, or roughly $115 a year for the owner of a residential property assessed at the average $354,497, Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer tells redbankgreen.

One way to soften the impact, she said, is to extend the hours for which parking fees are collected.

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RED BANK: LEAK CLOSES MONMOUTH ST.

rb leak 032916 1A block of Monmouth Street in Red Bank was closed in the eastbound direction Tuesday afternoon as workers sought the source of an unsurfaced water leak discovered when the street was opened for scheduled sewer repairs Monday night.

Public utilities Director Cliff Keen told redbankgreen that a contractor was “chasing the leak” to find its source and could not immediately estimate when the street would be fully reopened between Maple Avenue and Drummond Place. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: MEET THE NEW DEPARTMENT HEADS

cliff keen 122315Cliff Keen, above, is the new director of public utilities, and Charlie Hoffmann, below, runs parks and rec. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

charlie hoffmann 122115Recent months have brought some new faces to Red Bank government.

In particular, three departments that residents have regular interaction with, and occasional strong opinions about, are under new leadership: parks and recreation; planning and zoning; and public utilities.

Here’s a quick intro to the new directors.

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RED BANK: HYDRANT FLUSHING BEGINS

brown-waterBrown water alert: Red Bank’s annual spring hydrant flushing begins Tuesday night on the West Side and continues nightly, between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., according to an announcement on Fair Haven’s website. The process will be repeated nightly as crews mwork their way east, concluding Friday morning in the neighborhood of Fair Haven served by the Red Bank’s municipal water system.

SPRING ARRIVES. HALLELUJAH.

rb wires 031814WE MADE IT! The winter of 2014, with its seemingly endless snowfalls, ends Thursday with the vernal equinox at 12:57 p.m. Thursday, according to the Old Farmers Almanac. The National Weather Service says temperatures on day one should rise into the low 50s, and skies will be mostly sunny, as they were when a crew of utility workers tackled a job at Monmouth and West streets in Red Bank earlier this week. (Photo by Trish Russoniello. Click to enlarge)

SEA BRIGHT: COUNCIL WAIVES PERMIT FEES

Members of the borough council at Tuesday night’s meeting. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Amid complaints by residents about unresolved insurance claims and other rebuilding delays, the Sea Bright borough council rolled out several measures aimed at getting them back into their homes with less hassle and cost Tuesday night.

Among the moves: a moratorium on construction permit fees for all work related to Hurricane Sandy-related rebuilding and repairs.

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SEA BRIGHT: EATING, REFLECTING AND RISING

Chris Wood, as seen in a video, above, and Mayor Dina Long, below, at Saturday night’s event, which raised $130,000 for Sea Bright Rising. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

A hotel in Long Branch was transformed into a showcase of the area’s best culinary talents Saturday night, courtesy of the charity organization Sea Bright Rising and the generosity of local vendors and restaurant owners.

Complete with a live band, charity auction and a video showcasing the relief effort, the sold-out gala, dubbed “The Big Beach Bash,” raised almost $130,000 for Sea Bright’s recovery from Hurricane Sandy, according to the charity group’s Facebook page.

But the real story of the event was perhaps best told by the restaurateurs and merchants whose tables lined the walls of the ballroom of the Ocean Place Resort and Spa. Many were Sea Bright business owners trying to help rebuild their broken beach community joined by owners from neighboring towns looking to lend a hand to friends in need.

Over the lively the noise and, redbankgreen spoke with some of these participating businesses, and here’s what they had to say:

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SEA BRIGHT: CHRISTIE TOUTS FOCUS ON BIZ

Joined by Mayor Dina Long and business owners, Governor Chris Christie unveiled a new cabinet-level office to focus on post-storm rebuilding efforts. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Governor Chris Christie came to Sea Bright Friday afternoon, making his second visit to the storm-ravaged community since Hurricane Sandy struck. But while his first visit was a gesture of support to the beachside borough, this trip was all business.

At a news conference in the borough firehouse, Christie stood in front of a signs from local businesses including Bain’s Hardware, Woody’s Oceanfront Grille and Sea Bright Pizza to announce and lay out plans to help businesses that were affected by the hurricane. These include, he said, the creation of a new cabinet-level position – the Office of Recovery and Rebuilding – and the formation of a business impact assessment group, designed to aid businesses on a personal level.

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SEA BRIGHT: BAIN’S IS BACK IN THE PAINT

Frank Bain working the phone and the computer in the freshly restored paint section of his hardware store. (Photos by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

The rebuilding process in Sea Bright took a big step forward this week when Ocean Avenue mainstay Bain’s Hardware reopened its doors to the public for the first time since Hurricane Sandy hit.

“We opened at noon on 12/12/12 – why go to some concert when you could come down here, right?” owner Frank Bain told redbankgreen Thursday in his newly renovated shop.

Less than seven weeks ago, Bain’s store and every piece of inventory inside of it was destroyed. Now, the half of the store that is currently open looks as though it was never touched by the storm.

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SECOND ‘MOUNTAIN’ PILES UP MEMORIES

A passerby eyes debris in the Anchorage Beach parking lot, above, while a mountain of it dominates the former Peninsula House lot, below. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Mount Sandy, meet Mount Refuse.

Though smaller in stature, the mountain of debris occupying in Sea Bright’s old Peninsula House parking lot on Ocean Avenue is just as scene-stealing and ominous as its sand counterpart, located just a stone’s throw away. This ever-growing pile, however, won’t have onlookers climbing it or posing for closeups anytime soon.

The refuse is the accumulated result of curbside trash pickups in this Hurricane Sandy-smashed town, where residents and business owners are early on in a restoration effort.

It stands, however briefly, as a jarring, visceral reminder of the storm’s reach over porches, through doors and windows, and into rooms and closets.

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SEA BRIGHT: AMID TEARS, GUARD ROLLS OUT

Sea Bright’s tent city was largely dismantled by Friday afternoon. Below, Governor Chris Christie speaking with National Guardsmen at the site on November 9. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

After six weeks of assisting displaced residents and first responders with everything from hot meals to extra clothes, Sea Bright’s tent city – created by the US National Guard – is leaving town.

Following a final community meal on Thursday,  National Guardsmen made their move out of the municipal parking lot around 10:30 a.m. Friday, according to Onofrio Moscato, head chef at neighboring restaurant, Woody’s Ocean Grille, Emotions were running high for the Guard as well as volunteers and residents, he said.

“The National Guard was escorted out by the Sea Bright firemen,” Moscato told redbankgreen. “They were hanging out of the windows and waving. It was a special send-off for them. Before they left, they all stood in line and made a final salute, kind of a sign that their mission here was over.”

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HOT DOG CART AND CHIC EATERY BACK IN BIZ

Hot dog seller Frances Rooney poses for a photo with admirers, including Councilwoman Peggy Bills, at right above. Below, Pat Trama in his restored restaurant. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

One of Sea Bright’s oldest food businesses reopened this week, and one of its newest was scheduled to do so Friday night, two signs that the storm-battered town is cooking up a recovery.

Frances Rooney, affectionately known as “Grandma Hot Dog,”  fired up the gas on her cart this week and was soon attracting lines of hungry and loyal customers.

“My son was the one who really encouraged me to come back out here and start serving people again – sooner rather than later,” she told redbankgreen, “He thought it would be a comforting sight for everyone to see me back in business, up on my feet.”

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RUMSON TEEN’S STORM VIDEO DRAWS TRAIN

A 33-minute video about Hurricane Sandy by a Rumson-Fair Haven Regional student caught the attention of the rock band Train, which will play an acoustic show in Sea Bright as a result, NJ.com reported Wednesday.

Sixteen-year-old Charlotte Nagy videotaped conditions in Sea Bright and Rumson before, during and after the October 29 storm, and folded the band’s music into her production. Now, the San Francisco-based band is planning to play a private show for residents, first responders and their families next week, with the performance to be aired on on VH1 Christmas Day, the website of the Star-Ledger reports.

The effort will spotlight the efforts of Sea Bright Rising, a nonprofit devoted to the general recovery of the town of Sea Bright and care for its residents in the interim.

From the story:

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SEA BRIGHT: BAIN’S PAINTS ITS OWN FUTURE

Frank Bain outside his Ocean Avenue hardware store, where all the inventory was destroyed in Hurricane Sandy. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

“This isn’t a competition,” said a stone-faced Frank Bain, when asked if his would be the first business to reopen in Sea Bright after Hurricane Sandy.

But checking in on recent activity at Bain’s Hardware, a visitor might conclude that not only was Bain in a race, but one that his life depended on winning.

One late afternoon last week, the Ocean Avenue storefront was a swarm of dust-encrusted laborers, some installing new subflooring even as others continued with interior demolition work. At one point, an impromptu crew, Bain included, picked up and hustled the pieces of a shattered street lamp from the sidewalk out front to the side of the building.

Make no mistake about it: Bain is in a major hurry. With no flood insurance and every item in his 65,000-SKU shop destroyed, his economic life hangs in the balance, he’s the first to admit. “Getting that register ringing again is paramount,” he told redbankgreen.

But he’s driven just as much, he said, by the importance of his store to other businesses and homeowners who themselves are faced with rebuilding challenges. “We are out here working so that we can get back on our feet and help this town as soon as humanly possible,” he said.

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