By John Burton
RED BANK — The tree isn’t going anywhere.
A Red Bank RiverCenter proposal to relocate the borough’s holiday tree to Riverside Gardens Park hit a brick wall at the borough council meeting last week.
Representatives for RiverCenter, the borough’s downtown business alliance, appeared before the mayor and council last Wednesday to discuss moving the tree from 30 Monmouth Street, where it has stood in the courtyard in front of the Dublin House Restaurant for the last few holiday seasons.
The organization sponsors the annual tree lighting and concert that takes place each year on the day after Thanksgiving.
RiverCenter’s Executive Director Nancy Adams said the park offered a more family friendly location for the tree and would be more visible there.
Adams said she has received complaints from the public about the tree’s location “next to a bar” and the organization had been looking for an alternative site.
Adams had attended a recent borough Special Events Committee, where she is a member, where the matter was broached, with Adams under the impression there was no opposition to it.
But Borough Administrator Stanley Sickels disagreed. “There are a lot of issues that haven’t been discussed that have to be discussed,” about relocating the tree to the park, said Sickels, who also sits on the events committee.
“It may not be an inexpensive proposition,” said Mayor Pasquale Menna.
In order to move the tree to Riverside Gardens Park, West Front Street, the borough would have to install some infrastructure to secure it that could be kept covered the rest of the year, and would also need to be sure there is sufficient electrical power there to keep the tree lit, Menna noted, inquiring as to how that would be paid for and whether or not the logistics of moving the tree had been thoroughly considered.
“What we really want to do is make the residents happy,” with an appropriate home for the decorated tree, Adams told the council.
“You just can’t make a decision on limited facts,” Menna told Adams. “We may not have enough time.”
“To be fair it was brought up a month ago,” at the last committee meeting, Adams responded.
But the council seemed steadfast, with Council member Michael DuPont adding, “If you ask me my opinion, I think (Riverside Gardens Park) is a bad location.”
Menna suggested RiverCenter consider putting the tree in front of 51 Monmouth Street, the former borough police headquarters and one time borough hall. The Community YMCA now owns it, but the borough maintains a volunteer fire company and the veterans’ memorial at the site.
But for this year, at least, the tree will remain in its usual location on Monmouth Street.
The tree lighting and concert are conducted each year, for about the approximately 20, on the Friday after Thanksgiving—“Black Friday” for retail merchants—to promote the downtown business district as a shopping location.