In the face of widespread public disapproval of one of the proposals submitted, the process of re-imagining Red Bank’s Marine Park has come to a screeching halt.
According to Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer, the committee that reviewed the three proposals submitted will recommend that the Borough Council reject all proposals for redeveloping the area of the historic red clay courts at the park.
“The formal recommendation will be to reject all three proposals,” confirmed Schwabenbauer, council liaison to the Parks and Recreation Committee.
“The reason being for that is under the terms of the Request For Proposals process, Jetsun [Enterprises] won, but no one wants it. We will have to reject all three proposals.”
She added it’s not likely the council would repeat the same process.
Schwabenbauer, along with Councilman Ed Zipprich and Councilwoman Kathleen Horgan, initially scored the proposals in a private meeting on July 27. Judging criteria included access to the waterfront, accessibility for all borough residents and uniqueness to the town, with Jetsun coming out on top.
“It was by a pretty wide margin, it was the only one that really hit all the criteria,” she said.
However, public opinion was against the proposal for Red Bank Harbor, which residents criticized at public meetings.
“There is no way to build in a scoring criteria for public opinion,” Schwabenbauer said, noting the widespread negative feedback on the Jetsun proposal.
Anthony Setaro, one of the three principals in Jetsun, did not respond to requests for comment.
For months, the Red Bank Parks and Recreation Committee has pondered which of the three proposals to choose to replace the deteriorated tennis courts, which were damaged by superstorm Sandy. The proposal submitted by Jetsun Enterprises would replace the courts with a family friendly area encompassing a miniature golf course and artificial ice rink along with a paddleboat station.
Anther proposal, submitted by a local resident, would rebuild the historic clay courts with private funding.
The third proposal for the Marine Park Activity Center, focuses on activities that would connect residents with the Navesink River.
The proposals were submitted to the Parks and Recreation Committee in April and a public hearing was held in June.
Going forward, Schwabenbauer suggested following the same process as was conducted for Riverside Gardens Park, a borough showpiece on West Front Street that overlooks the Navesink.
“I would love to go with that. At the time that wasn’t a slam-dunk either. At the end of the day I think we ended up with a park that everyone likes.”
For Riverside Gardens the borough brought in a team with experience in developing public spaces that incorporated public feedback, she said.
In comments on the proposals, the Red Bank Environmental Commission said none of the three submitted served to protect the natural environment of Marine Park. In particular, commission members expressed concerns about the environmental impacts of the Jetsun proposal.
“The RBEC specifically disapproves of the Jetsun project. Although the proposal does include the use of modern green technologies such as LEED certification and solar panels, it is a major development undertaking,” said the commission in a statement to the Parks and Recreation Committee.
“Through the use of non-permeable surfaces for the miniature golf and ice skating rinks, Red Bank can expect more pollutant runoff into the Navesink River during rain storms. Additionally, the tourist nature of the area would generate more people to the riverfront, exacerbating the need for litter and pollution maintenance efforts.”
After the Hub reported on the environmental commission comments, a principal in Jetsun requested the minutes for the entire year of the commission’s meetings, according to Borough Clerk Pam Borghi.
The group also requested a blank tort claim notice, a preliminary step in the filing of a legal action. Borghi said the notice had not been filed as of Oct. 28.
Contact Michael Nunes at firstname.lastname@example.org.