Design consultant unveils concept plan for improvements to Marine Park

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RED BANK – A “flexible and programmable” concept plan to redesign Marine Park is on the Borough Council’s table in Red Bank.

During a workshop meeting on Feb. 6, municipal officials commended a concept plan, which includes the removal of a parking lot at Marine Park, a grand entrance to the park and a seawall around the scenic promenade at the park. No formal action was taken at the meeting.

In 2018, Kimley Horn, a planning and design consultant firm, was hired to redevelop Marine Park, Union Street and Wharf Avenue. The firm sought stakeholder input by holding public meetings and encouraging residents to participate in surveys.

On Feb. 6, landscape architect Scott Scarfone, representing the firm, said the concept plan unveiled that evening included feedback provided by stakeholders. The plan includes features and amenities the stakeholders said they want to see at Marine Park.

Scarfone said that according to the plan, existing parking near the riverfront would be removed. He called that area “incredibly valuable real estate” and said it would be better suited as open space.

Scarfone said parking would be relocated to the area of Marine Park, which houses tennis courts. The tennis courts will be eliminated and 64 parking spots will be created.

A grand entrance to Marine Park is proposed, Scarfone said, noting that “a formal plaza space is important to introduce visitors to the park.”

A veterans wall has been proposed near the grand entrance, although “the exact nuances (of the wall) are still evolving,” he said. 

Scarfone said a playground near the Navesink River would be relocated to a space near the park’s entrance.

He told Red Bank officials a significant amount of the park would be preserved as open green space near the water and serve multiple purposes. Scarfone said the “flexible and programmable space” is large enough to accommodate an ice rink in the winter or concerts in the summer.

A 2-foot-tall seawall – an embankment that prevents water from causing the erosion of land – is proposed around the perimeter of the park’s promenade. The seawall could also serve as a seating area for visitors, Scarfone said.

A pavilion, artwork and a kayak launch along the promenade are proposed. A stand where kayaks can be stored or rented would be available. Some trees would be lost to  accommodate development, he said.

“This next idea was (Business Administrator) Ziad (Shehady’s), get an old steamboat or a feature that would draw people (to the park). Whether it’s functional, or serves as a dining area, or goes out on tours, this would be another element that could draw people down to the park.”

If officials approve a concept plan for Marine Park, the next steps would be to examine regulatory issues surrounding the proposed development and to come up with cost estimates for the work, Scarfone said.

Councilwoman Kathy Horgan asked when construction at the park could begin. Scarfone estimated the process leading to construction would take about two years.

Mayor Pasquale Menna suggested council members move forward with the proposed plan to redevelop Marine Park after noting minor changes that could be made to the concept plan.

Shehady gave Scarfone the OK to submit a formal report outlining the plan. The report may be voted on as a resolution at the next council meeting.

During public comment, resident Pat Honeywell said, “I would like to congratulate Kimley Horn for the conceptual design. Having been present at the meetings, (Scarfone) really took in our comments. I think this is a very good attempt at trying to conceptualize the thoughts of the community. (The plan) may not be perfect for everyone’s taste, but (stakeholders) knew there would be limitations.”

Honeywell did not state the “limitations” he was referring to.

Cindy Burnham, a former member of the Borough Council, asked if employees and visitors at Riverview Medical Center would be able to purchase permits for the new parking area at Marine Park.

Menna said parking permits are not anticipated.

“We used to have a pavilion (in Marine Park) and we had to take that out because of vandalism. You are now putting two pavilions in very secluded areas with trees around them,” Burnham said, noting that vandalism could one again become an issue.

Shehady said Burnham’s valid concern would be “kept in mind.”