Green Space Upgrades On Red Bank’s Wish List

October 1, 2018
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The fountain on Henry Street at Count Basie Park, Red Bank. Photo by Chris Rotolo

By Natalie B. Anzarouth |

RED BANK— Local officials are seeking a project grant that would enable the borough to make several large-scale upgrades in public green spaces.

Discussions about the Monmouth County Open Space Grant began at the borough’s Aug. 29 workshop meeting, where township administrator Ziad Shehady estimated the cost for these improvement projects would total between $450,000 and $500,000.

The borough will apply for a Municipal Open Space Grant from Monmouth County for up to $250,000 to make improvements to East Side Park, Count Basie Park, Mohawk Pond and Riverside Gardens Park.

This county program offers matching grants, meaning the borough would be responsible for the remaining balance of the projects.

“Unlike some towns that don’t really get a lot of usage from their parks, we do,” said Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna, in an interview with The Two River Times. “When people say we’re spending too much money on parks, they should look at how much we use them. If we don’t constantly maintain them and spruce them up, they’ll be run down quickly.”

Count Basie Park, Red Bank

The borough’s proposed plans include improvements to the playground surface at East Side Park on Mechanic Street, as well as providing additional outdoor space and amenities at Mohawk Pond with a picnic and barbecue area, which could be used for birthday parties or gatherings of family and friends, Shehady said, adding that a shade structure would be beneficial to an area like this.

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Shehady said the installation of solar lighting is also in the works for Count Basie Park, which he hopes will “encourage people to walk around the track,” a paved walkway that provides access to all parts of the sports complex, including synthetic turf softball and baseball fields, a turf multi-sport field with a walking track, basketball courts and other dirt and grass fields.

Menna said improvements were last made to the complex six years ago, but prior to that the public space had not been touched in approximately 50 years.

A refurbished boardwalk at Riverside Garden Park is also in the plans.

“It’s been weathered over the years,” Shehady said of the scenic stretch of boardwalk, which includes benches and hand railings that allow pedestrians to look out over the Navesink River.

“It was supposed to be the jewel in the crown,” Menna said, who referred to the park as the project of his former running mate Betty Thompson. “We finished this park about 20 years ago and it’s gotten a lot of use, and it’s in need of upgrades to ensure that it remains the jewel in the crown.”

Additionally, there are plans to post a U.S. flagpole at the park that would add to commemorative ceremonies and events the borough hosts. Shehady said the U.S. flagpole would have been an appropriate addition for the most recent Sept. 11 ceremony.

Riverside Gardens Park, Red Bank

He also noted that the borough doesn’t have any budget or funds currently in place to pay for its share of the cost of proposed improvements and that residents have not voiced any objections to the proposed plans.

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The borough is still crafting its grant application and, if accepted it will move to contract a firm to make the improvements.

Each year the Board of Chosen Freeholders allocates money from the annual Monmouth County Open Space Trust Fund for cooperative programs and improvement projects.

Two million dollars was set aside for projects in 2018, including $190,000 to Little Silver, $250,000 for Colts Neck and $110,000 to Monmouth Beach.

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