By John Burton |
RED BANK – Things may be moving forward for the possible redevelopment of the White Street lot to pave the way for a future parking garage.
The Borough Council recently advanced the long-discussed plan for a parking solution for the downtown area by introducing an ordinance to reclassify the municipal-owned White Street parking lot as an area in need of redevelopment.
Ordinance 2016-25, if eventually approved by the borough council, would allow the council to proceed, setting up parameters for what officials may want for the location and begin the request for proposal process, officials explained.
The White Street lot, owned and operated by the municipality, is 2.29 acres with 271 paid and handicap parking spaces. It has long been discussed as the location for a multitiered parking deck as a means of to relieve the chronic parking shortfall for the borough’s downtown commercial district. It would qualify for redevelopment given urban planners see this type of existing parking lot as an outdated and inefficient use of the limited available land.
Classifying the lot as an area in need of non-condemnation redevelopment under a state law would allow local officials to streamline the approval process for any development proposals deemed to be in the public good, allowing it to move forward in a quicker fashion.
The ordinance was taken up by the borough Planning Board at its Nov. 7 meeting. The board voted unanimously to endorse the plan by determining it is in accordance with the borough master plan, which lays out local long-term planning and zoning elements. The board, however, did suggest some changes to the report upon sending it back to the council for further consideration, said planning board member Daniel Mancuso.
Despite what appears to be progress, Mayor Pasquale Menna, who is supportive of this initiative, warned, “It’s in its embryonic stage” of the planning.
Borough Councilman Michael Whelan, who chairs the council’s parking committee, said it’s a broad general outline, but it shows progress. “I think the total vision platform is getting laid out here,” he said.
Menna, a Democrat, is in alignment with Whelan, a Republican, and the council’s other two Republican council members, Mark Taylor and Linda Schwabenbauer, in offering support for the redevelopment of the location. The remaining three council members, while they voted to introduce the initiative at the Oct. 26 council meetings, have been more circumspect on what should be done.
This article was first published in the November 17-24, 2016 print edition of The Two River Times.
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