The final decision for what will be eventually constructed at Marine Park has yet to be determined but public opinions continue to run strong. The borough Park and Recreation Advisory Committee has made its determination Monday evening following its meeting as to what direction should be taken for the proposed development of the borough-owned park. However, the committee’s views will not be made public at this juncture, the committee’s chair, John Lefever, announced on Monday, telling audience members on hand that the committee wouldn’t entertain anymore public comment on the three proposals under consideration. “We’ve already heard from everybody on that stuff,” Lefever said, “so we’re not going to go through that again.”
“It feels very unfair,” fired back borough resident Rosemary Pappa, who wanted to let her feelings be known. Any decision the advisory committee may have arrived at, is far from the last word on the plans. According to Borough Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer, who also chairs the council parks and recreation committee, the process now has her committee deliberate on the matter and should it reach a consensus it would move on to the mayor and full council for consideration. “You’re still welcome to reach out to the council members,” Schwabenbauer said. When it comes before the council there will be an opportunity for public comment, officials were quick to note.
Schwabenbauer did acknowledge on Tuesday the advisory committee did reach a unanimous decision, following an executive session Monday evening.
What have captured local public attention are three proposals for Marine Park and the now damaged and unusable tennis courts. One plan calls for building a boathouse and catering hall and would incorporated educational and recreational programs offered by the Navesink River Rowing Club and the Navesink Maritime Heritage Association, along with having kayak and canoe rentals available for the public.
Another plan, put forth by Locust resident James Cullen involves contributing $500,000 for the restoration of the tennis courts, which have been in use since 1930. A private entity would manage and maintain the courts for members and public use. Those courts have had a long, loyal following among players and enthusiasts, being one of the remaining public red clay courts in the state. Super Storm Sandy damaged the courts in 2012 and they have remained unrepaired since the storm.
The third proposal, offered by Jetsun Enterprises, a private group, is the most ambitious and the one that is sparking the most debate in the community.
That plan would construct an 18-hole miniature golf course, synthetic ice rink that would be available for year round use, a food concession stand and a boathouse offering canoe rentals; there would also be driven golf carts available to take customers to and from off site parking.
Schwabenbauer conducted a public forum in May on the proposals. “I think the process is working the way it’s suppose to,” Schwabenbauer said, providing considerable public input prior to a decision.
Among those offering public opinion, have been members of the Monmouth Boat Club, Union Street. The club, which overlooks Marine Park, has been operating since 1879.
Roughly 20 club members attended the July 22 borough council meeting, thinking incorrectly the proposals would be under consideration.
The tennis court proponents and boat club members have been waging a concerted effort to have their feelings known but “I’m hearing from all sides,” acknowledged Borough Councilwoman Kathy Horgan, a member of the council’s parks and rec committee.
“It looks good on paper,” charged Pat Corr, commodore of the Monmouth Boat Club, of the Jetsun proposal. But, he continued, “It’s just too intense of a use.”
Corr and boat club members would like to see a scaled back blending of the other two proposals – restore the tennis courts and allow for water activities on the Navesink River.
Pappa seemed to share Corr’s opinion. She called the Jetsun proposal “a circus.”
“This doesn’t sound like Red Bank to me,” she said.
The council’s parks and rec committee was scheduled to meet in closed session on Tuesday evening. The committee, consisting of chair Schwabenbauer, Horgan and Borough Councilman Edward Zipprich, would take under consideration the advisor y committee’s decision; subject it to a criteria as to how it would benefit the community. If the council committee reaching a decision the matter could come before the entire council at the Aug. 12 public meeting but there are no guarantees, Schwabenbauer advised.
Ultimately this is a good thing, Schwabenbauer insisted. “I think it’s an oppor tunity to clean up something that’s been a mess for 2 1⁄2 years,” she said, referring to the damaged and deteriorated courts.
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