By John Burton
RED BANK – A debate and very likely vote on the future status of borough-owned open space property has been delayed until the Feb. 12 borough council meeting, according to Mayor Pasquale Menna.
The council initially intended to talk Wednesday night about what has become a controversial issue, the status of the Maple Cove site and the 94 West Front St. property, next to the public library. However, the transcription of a Dec. 30 public hearing on the matter was not ready in time for Wednesday evening’s meeting, Menna said.
“How can you make a decision without all the evidence in your hand?” Menna said on Thursday morning.
Borough officials have appealed to the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to be allowed to amend its list of open space properties. Officials indicated they wanted to remove portions of Maple Cove, a small park area at the northern end of Maple Avenue, and part of the library property, that have been used as parking areas for the properties.
DEP guidelines indicate parking at what is labeled parkland has to be restricted to park use and any cost for parking has to be designated for park maintenance. Officials have contended they were unaware of those restrictions and now look to change the property designation.
But some have charged, including recently seated Republican Borough Councilwoman Cindy Burnham, this is a ploy on the part of officials to eventually sell off the property. Menna has strenuously denied that charged in the past.
“The council should have all the facts and not just what one person says,” Menna, a Democrat, said on Thursday about the decision to delay the vote, with an apparent jibe at Burnham.
The meeting’s transcription should be made available on the borough’s website on Friday and will be distributed to the council, he said.