Red Bank officials consider updates for Marine Park

Staff Writer

RED BANK — Some of the borough’s waterfront real estate may soon be getting a facelift.

The Borough Council and Parks and Recreation Committee are considering how to renovate Marine Park in the wake of damage from superstorm Sandy and ensure it meets the needs of both town residents and visitors.

“Marine Park is not just one kind of issue,” said Councilman Mark Taylor, the Borough Council’s representative to the Parks and Recreation Committee.

He elaborated, saying that renovation plans must address necessary repairs brought on by storm damage and aging facilities while also modernizing the park, potentially by adding new attractions and activities that are not currently available in Red Bank.

He noted that the renovations will, hopefully, proceed in less of a piecemeal fashion than they have in the past.

“What we’ve decided to do as a council and a committee is look at the park more holistically” rather than addressing one section at a time, Taylor said.

Both the Borough Council and Parks and Recreation Committee intend to begin soliciting proposals from park design firms about possible ideas for Marine Park.

The council has already started accepting requests for proposals (RFPs) for boat cruises that would launch onto the Navesink River out of Marine Park.

Borough Administrator Stanley Sickels, however, said that further bidding has been postponed so that he can respond to questions from agents who have submitted proposals.

The Big Kahuna, a river cruise, formerly sailed out of Red Bank and enjoyed success until its owners sold the vessel.

In November 2015, the Borough Council rejected three proposals to renovate Marine Park. One proposal, submitted by Jetsun Enterprises, suggested constructing a visitor’s center, miniature golf course, ice rink, boathouse and access to the river in the park, and while it was favored by some members of the council, it was denied in response to negative public opinion that deemed the $3.5 million project too ambitious.

Jim Cullen, who submitted another of the rejected proposals, offered to donate $500,000 to renovate Marine Park’s red clay tennis courts that were destroyed as a result of superstorm Sandy. Taylor noted that while the offer is still on the table and being considered, members of the council and Parks and Recreation Committee must weigh whether or not renovating the tennis courts would be the best approach and if it would satisfy the interests of all of Red Bank’s residents and visitors.

For now, borough officials are evaluating all possible options.

“We’ve kind of gone back to the drawing board,” Taylor said.