By John Burton
RED BANK — The new year will likely bring further discussions on the idea of construction a parking garage on municipal property.
At a regular council meeting Dec. 7, Mayor Pasquale Menna he would like a garage in the White Street municipal parking lot.
“The new council will take a look at the proposals,” Menna said, adding that he would like the council to act on the idea at the January first reorganization meeting, when he would like the governing body to approve contracting with some professionals who would evaluate various proposals for a parking garage. Menna is hoping to hire a redevelopment lawyer, planner and possibly an architect for the job, he said.
“I do think there will be an advisory committee,” to be formed at a later date, he said. “That’s just how municipal government works.”
The professionals’ services would be paid out of the borough’s parking utility fund, which had, until being suspended fairly recently, accumulated mandatory contributions from developers whose projects failed to include the required number of parking spaces on their site. According to Colleen Lapp, the borough chief financial officer, there is approximately $500,000 in that fund.
And that money, Menna explained, was always intended to maintain the existing parking space inventory and to fund possible solutions to the long standing parking shortfall experienced in parts of the borough, especially in its east side downtown area.
Kim Senkeleski, a John Street resident and a former Republican candidate in the 2009 council race, questioned the use of taxpayer dollars for any garage project.
Menna, a Democrat, said again that he opposes spending public money for such a project.
Council members appeared to take a wait-and-see approach on how such a project might be funded.
“I want someone to give me information we can rely on,” before making an decision, said Councilman Michael R. DuPont.
“We don’t have any analysis. We don’t have any plans,” as of yet to make any sort of decision, added Councilman Edward Zipprich.
Councilman Arthur V. Murphy III appeared open to the idea of bonding for construction of a parking garage, should it come to that. Murphy has a longstanding history of supporting the garage proposal and said, “I always believed if the borough were to build a garage it would make money.”