By Daniel Murphy Jr.
Red Bank does not have a parking problem. It has a parking PERCEPTION problem exacerbated over the last thirty years by our failure to adequately have signage and promote the parking we have. When I say we, I include myself and the many people who have worked on this issue. Perhaps there were too many chiefs, too many opinions and too many private goals.
Twenty years ago the Red Bank RiverCenter was established and of course one of the issues to solve, to turn Dead Bank around, was to address the parking. Well we did, sort of, as Red Bank had its renaissance from the late ’80s up until 2008. The town was jammed with thousands of people enjoying the town. Where did they park? They found the White St. lot, the Globe Ct. parking garage, and the east side parking lots as well as all the side streets around downtown. I am sure they found them by accident.
Our parking in downtown needs heavy signage directing drivers to the White St .and East Side Lots. These lots need to be lit well and be part of the town in maps and on social media. The Globe Ct. parking garage should be promoted for everyone’s day and night time use, be well lit and made to be a part of our parking in all our advertising. Even today there is only one sign on Broad St. for parking and that is for Garmany’s lot. There is one sign on Monmouth going west for the White St. lot. Maps on social media showing all the parking areas would go a long way in changing the perception of parking in the downtown.
The Arts and Antique district is another story with the West Side Lofts being built over the next two years. The Two River Theater, seven restaurants, antique dealers and hair salons have benefited form the generosity of Bob Reichnitz allowing people to park on the lot between the theater and Danny’s Grill & Wine Bar. The lot holds about 200 cars and is packed most nights especially when there is a show. The lot will be replaced by the building of the West Side Lofts. The project will add a whole new dimension to the district. There will be a Brew Pub, 91 apartments, art galleries and a parking garage that will accommodate the project as well as adding a needed ratable to the town.
With this comes the challenge of finding parking for the 200 spaces that will no longer be there and the additional people coming to the area. We are forming a parking initiative working with the town, RiverCenter, Chris Cole of Metrovation, the Galleria, NJ Transit, and valet parking companies. We are going to need money, good planning, and time to create a parking program for the Arts and Antique district. We have about 2 years to get it done.