[Open letter to the mayor and council of Red Bank]


rowing up in Monmouth County, I was witness to the rise and fall of Red Bank. As an adolescent, Red Bank was the only place to be on a Saturday afternoon; it was considered cool to take the bus without your parents and meet your friends in front of McDonald’s. During my teen-age years, once The Grove was built and the McDonald’s torn down, the town became a dump, a place my parents did not want me to go to after dark. After attending college out of state I moved back to the area and have seen the rebirth of what is the greatest place, once again, to spend your Saturday afternoons. In fact, it was quite easy to entice my fiancé to move here. The commute to New York City is not bad. There is easy access to train and bus stations and the river, ocean, and beach access is ideal. The influx of new restaurants, bars and shopping leave us with overwhelming choices for entertainment just steps from our home. We love it here so much we thought we could brave all the negatives.

Those of us living in Red Bank have learned to deal with the constant construction, weekend and rush hour traffic, parking, and the onslaught of tourists. We have all muddled through because we see an end in sight, and because these are all town improvements. Construction will end, eventually. The dirt will settle. The red clay from the constant brick cutting will eventually leave my deck for good. Again, these are all improvements for the town. We see an end in sight, but I simply cannot tolerate the excessive pollution.

At first I assumed the pollution was caused by all the construction going on around town; kicking up dirt and dust, and did I mention my favorite, the red clay from the brick cutting. But as I began to look more closely I noticed that White and Monmouth streets are both lined with cigarette butts, bottles, cans, Dunkin’ Donuts napkins and Starbucks coffee cups. I am not finger pointing, just telling it like it is.

Many, but not all, businesses in Red Bank maintain a front sidewalk caked in dirt. Why aren’t these businesses sweeping up? Are they not responsible for pollution at their doorways? And not only is this littering affecting the aesthetics of the town, it is also affecting our health and environment.

The Navesink River is one of the greatest assets of Red Bank and there have been quite a few strides recently to clean up our waters. Yet we continue to leave trash on the streets only to be washed down the drain and into the rivers. Many of the storm drains are lined with waste just waiting for the right storm to whisk it all away into the Navesink.

A study of Red Bank was conducted by T&M Associates and prepared for the Red Bank Environmental Commission as an Environmental Resources Inventory. I cannot find anything in this study that even relates to the street pollution, although it does acknowledge a past and present problem with the water pollution; and the fact that the drains empty directly into the Navesink River. The loose trash on the streets and in the parks and hiding in the bushes will eventually find these storm drains.

I was also extremely surprised to find the property upon which Red Bank Catholic and St. James sit to be loaded with garbage. I saw everything from candy bar wrappers to cigarette butts. Where is the janitorial service? Where is the student government? Where are the church parishioners?

It seems no one wants to take responsibility. Everyone wants to push it off on the next person, group or organization. But the fact of the matter is, it is up to all of us: the residents, the visitors, the businesses and the town, to clean up. We have seen what Red Bank has been, what it is at present and the possibilities of what it might be if we take care of it this time.

Renee Verdon

Red Bank