By John Burton
RED BANK – A meeting between representatives from the state Department of Environmental Protection and borough officials has cleared the air and rectified the borough’s violation of state guidelines for parking at recreation areas.
Mayor Pasquale Menna, Borough Administrator Stanley Sickels and some borough council members met Jan. 17 with representatives from the DEP’s Green Acres program to discuss and remedy issues concerning borough parking at Marine Park, overlooking the Navesink River, according to Bob Considine, a DEP spokesman.
The issue involved how the borough was characterizing the available paid parking at the park and what it was doing with the proceeds, Menna said.
The DEP received a complaint from Cindy Burnham, who is now a borough councilwoman, about municipal parking at Marine Park, the property next to the public library and at Maple Cove, a small borough-owned natural area that provides river access, where borough paved and striped for nine parking spaces.
All three locations are designated as DEP–recognized open space areas.
Burnham complained that the borough was charging for parking and allowing the general public to parking spaces at the parks.
According to Considine, DEP regulations require that, while paid parking is permitted at those areas, the spaces are to be reserved for those using the recreational areas. Plus, any parking fees collected are to be specifically designated for park maintenance and recreational programs.
That had not been the case, Menna acknowledged. The spaces were used for anyone wanting to use them and money collected for the spaces went to the borough’s parking utility.
Menna insisted it was simply a matter of local officials unaware of those requirements.
The meeting resulted in borough officials becoming aware of the regulations and they have taken steps to correct the situation, Considine said.
“We will follow up with Red Bank to make sure the park stays in compliance with Green Acre rules,” Considine said in an email last week.
“I have made a commitment that parking at Marine Park is fully in compliance with DEP regulations,” Menna said.
To meet the obligation, the borough’s finance department will have a designated account established for the collection of the recreation area parking fees. Menna also noted that Red Bank RiverCenter, which oversees the borough’s business district, and borough’s visitors center will have to discontinue distributing a map listing Marine Park parking spaces as available as downtown shopper parking.
RiverCenter Executive Director James Scavone said the organization had the parking utility review and approved the map – containing Marine Park – prior to having thousands printed for distribution. New maps now will have to be created, he said.
The matter has been resolved “and we have no issues” with the DEP, Menna said curtly.
Burnham, a Republican who took office this month, has been at odds with her Democratic counterparts – even before she ran for the council seat – over the future of Maple Cove and the library property. She contended officials were ignoring their obligations and believed they were secretly intending to sell the properties. Officials have applied to the DEP to amend the borough’s open space list to remove portions of those two properties to allow parking, which Burnham saw as a smoking gun for a future sale.
Clarification: Published Feb. 7
Red Bank Borough Councilwoman Cindy Burnham said she did not contact the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) concerning the issue of allowing general parking at Marine Park in Red Bank.
She said she contacted the DEP about parking at Maple Cove on Maple Avenue.
The issue of parking at recreation areas in Red Bank was the subject of a story in the Jan. 31 edition of the Two River Times