RED BANK – After reviewing a consulting firm’s report that described the borough’s parking situation as “broken,” elected officials say they will adopt its recommendation to hire a full-time parking manager.
They are also considering the suggestion to implement “pay-by-plate” parking technology in Red Bank, which enables visitors to purchase parking time by using their license plate number, now in use in Asbury Park. The system gives visitors the freedom to move about different zones within the borough, rather than being committed to a single numbered parking stall.
“My colleagues realize that this is not the sleepy borough it was in the 1960s. We are a major center of the region,” Red Bank Mayor Pat Menna said Monday. “We are focused on bringing our parking implementation up to modern standards. What we did years ago, what then was considered to be state-of-the-art, is no longer.”
Menna expects the Red Bank Borough Council to move forward with recommendations for both a parking director and technology upgrades within the next 90 days.
Still on the table, though, is whether to follow another one of Walker Consultants’ recommendations: to discontinue the practice of siphoning funds from the parking utility surplus.
The study pointed out that over the last three years the borough has used approximately $3 million from the parking utility to buoy the general fund. It recommended establishing a three-year program to wean the borough from accessing those revenues.
“Any action taken will be a formal action and we’re still in the process of discussing the matter. Nothing is official yet,” Menna said Monday.
Red Bank RiverCenter, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the downtown shopping and business areas of the town, paid for nearly half of the $52,350 study, with the borough.
Board chairman and local merchant Stephen Catania said RiverCenter would like the governing body to accept the study in its entirety.
“The authors of this study clearly stated that this is not a matter of picking and choosing recommendations, but choosing and implementing all of them – starting with hiring an experienced person, or a parking authority, and empowering that person to manage our parking situation and implement those recommendations,” said Catania.
Other recommendations included in the report by Walker Consultants Brian J. Bartholomew and Carolyn H. Krasnow include extending parking enforcement from a 6 p.m. end time to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday in order to maximize revenue opportunities; transition permit parking from the White Street lot to other lots around the borough; invest in improved signage that clearly directs patrons to the borough’s various lots when the White Street lot is at capacity; and designate locations in town as “convenience parking” and up-charge patrons for settling in those coveted premium spaces.
Catania said the remaining question is how to fund these recommendations, including the hiring of a parking director, which the Walker Consultants team estimated should come with an annual salary of $85,000 to $120,000.
“(The parking utility) certainly generates a significant amount of money and the borough, along with the council need to figure out what monies should go toward parking improvements. Even Walker (Consultants) recognized that immediately stopping the siphoning of all funds is a bit much to ask of any municipality. But we hope a parking director will help guide the pace of that process,” Catania said.
According to the prepared statement from the office of the mayor and borough council, Red Bank’s Parking Committee scheduled a meeting immediately following the Jan. 10 publication of the report to start the process of evaluating the report recommendations from their respective focus areas.
The committee is due to meet several times over the coming weeks to carefully analyze the implementation tasks in order to develop an execution plan for consideration by the governing body.
This article was first published in the Feb.7-14, 2019 print edition of The Two River Times.