Rising tide of expectations at new River’s Edge

Robert Guido moving restaurant from one small place to two large ones

By gloria stravelli
Staff Writer

By gloria stravelli
Staff Writer

CHRIS KELLY Robert Guido and his wife, Christine, are relocating their business, the River’s Edge Cafe, to Broad Street in Red Bank. The move will make more space available to accommodate the growing number of patrons.CHRIS KELLY Robert Guido and his wife, Christine, are relocating their business, the River’s Edge Cafe, to Broad Street in Red Bank. The move will make more space available to accommodate the growing number of patrons.

After 13 years in Red Bank, Robert Guido knew River’s Edge Cafe had outgrown its small space on West Front Street.

"We were at the point, especially on Sunday mornings, when we had so many regulars that people would come in and there’d be no place to wait. They had to stand there, and they were frustrated," said the proprietor of the popular eatery, which has a devoted following for its casual American menu, particularly its homestyle breakfasts.

"Also, I lost a lot of opportunities to have private parties because I didn’t have the space."

While Guido knew it was time to expand, he didn’t anticipate moving to two separate locations, which is the scenario that has developed.

If the move went according to plan this week, patrons of River’s Edge Café could have eaten breakfast at the West Front Street eatery Thursday morning and later in the day strolled a short distance south for dinner at the café’s new Broad Street location.

That’s what proprietor/chief omelet maker Guido had in mind when he planned the same-day move of his restaurant from 38 W. Front St. — within view of the Navesink — to 35 Broad St., the former home of Mulberry Street Ristorante at Mamma Lucia’s Restaurant.

What’s more, on July 3 patrons can enjoy River’s Edge al fresco — Guido’s expansion plans include an open-air eatery at Irwin’s Marine for the summer season.

When summer kicks off, The Deck at River’s Edge will begin serving lunch and dinner, Thursday-Sunday, in the 85-seat eatery perched dockside overlooking the Navesink.

Guido didn’t set out to double his venues; things just worked out that way. His original plan was to add the outdoor dining spot at the marina formerly occupied by The Navesink Café as a seasonal location.

"Everything happened at once," he explained. "I was talking to Chan [Irwin, owner of Irwin Marine] about taking over the café at the marina when I saw an ad for a restaurant for sale on Broad Street.

"I wanted to be on Broad for a long time. I realized I was reaching the point when I needed more room. The cafe was limited by the small space it occupied."

At 1,100 square feet, River’s Edge Café had room to seat only 50 diners. Even though an efficient staff managed to maximize the space, serving up to 350 patrons for breakfast, Guido said customers would often be forced to wait for seating, but the small space provided no room for waiting.

Guido purchased the Broad Street restaurant business, negotiated a 10-year lease and more than doubled his restaurant’s seating while gaining space for waiting customers and private parties. In its new location River’s Edge Café will be open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Mulberry Street proprietor Joseph Barbarino said he decided to sell the Red Bank location and concentrate on expanding his other Mulberry Street Restaurant in Matawan. Barbarino will add 25 seats to that location and is currently in negotiations for a banquet facility in that borough.

At the same time as he is upgrading the kitchen and hiring staff for the new Broad Street location, Guido is installing a new kitchen at The Deck at River’s Edge, which he has leased for a year.

"He’ll do great there," said John Sharp, who operated the Navesink Cafe since it was added to the marina in 1991.

Sharp said not having a year-round restaurant to offset the effects of inclement weather made it difficult for the outdoor cafe to succeed financially — a problem Guido won’t have, he noted.

"We were at the whim of the weather, and it kicked our butt," said Sharp, who will focus on festivals and off-premises catering in the future.

Channing Irwin, owner of Irwin Marine, said he and Sharp parted ways at the end of last summer, adding The Deck at River’s Edge will give the marina-based eatery a much-needed new format.

The dockside eatery will be open for lunch and dinner Thursday through Sunday, Memorial Day through Labor Day and will serve a casual menu focused on salads and sandwiches.

A retired teacher, Guido decided to satisfy a lifelong passion for cooking by opening his own restaurant in Red Bank in 1990.

"I had a couple of places — I was always dabbling in it. It was something I always wanted — to have my own place," explained the Monmouth College grad.

The spot he found on West Front Street had been vacant, and he credits his wife, Christine, for giving River’s Edge a welcoming persona.

"My wife was responsible for making it homey," said Guido of the handmade tablecloths in homey prints like calico and tartan and the Tiffany-style light fix­tures that characterized the cafe.

Guido spelled out the philosophy that made River’s Edge a thriving business.

"Make it as if it’s your home and your mother is in the kitchen cooking," advised Guido, whose mother, Mildred, recently retired from River’s Edge after working there for years.

"Everything is homemade. I make sure everything is always fresh and serv­ings are copious. We crack our own eggs, cook our own potatoes for home fries. I cook as I go, I don’t precook. It’s more work, but people appreciate your taking care, and that’s very important to me.

"Part of me wanted to stay there, but what would I say to customers? ‘You can’t come in because there’s no room?’ "

But stepping up is a challenge, he acknowledged.

"It’s a tough spot to be in," he said. "It will be more work. I’m raising the bar a lot. But I have an experienced staff. You need the people behind you, and most have worked for me for five, six and eight years."

With 125 seats at the cafe’s new quarters on Broad, Guido said he could up the number of people served at breakfast to 500 and accommodate pri­vate parties of up to 75 people.

Guido said he will keep the River’s Edge menu and prices the same and hope the increased seating capacity will offset the higher overhead.

He has expanded the cafe’s classic American dinner menu, while keeping entrées in the $15-$25 range and his wife is again tweaking the décor, adding garden elements like lattice to the restaurant interior.

In its new location, the café will be open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Guido is selling the business at his former location so that site is likely to remain a restaurant, he said.

According to Guido, his greatest business asset is one that transports well.

"My philosophy has always been to give people consistent quality," he said. "You will get the best I can give. I’m not going to cut corners.

"The best comment I can get is if someone says, ‘The food was as good as always,’ " he noted.

"It’s been a love relationship with the food and with the people. I have real loyal, steady people.

"I’m not worried. I know my break­fast and lunch people will come. I’m try­ing to tap into a diverse market," he added.

"It won’t be easy; it’s a big step, but I know I can make it. We’re going to make it as comfortable over here as it was there."

Potential conflict of interest dismissed; bank’s plan denied

Synergy Bank

By gloria stravelli
Staff Writer

Potential conflict of interest dismissed; bank’s plan denied

Synergy Bank’s plan for Monmouth St. office deemed wrong for site

By gloria stravelli

Staff Writer

Should a Red Bank Planning Board member have recused himself during hearings on Synergy Bank’s application for a branch in Red Bank because the realty firm he works for represents a competing bank?

Planning Board member Daniel Mancuso doesn’t think so.

"The firm has represented Commerce Bank in the past, but I don’t personally," said Mancuso, a broker and executive vice president with Murphy Realty Preferred Homes, Rumson.

Mancuso confirmed that the realty firm has represented Commerce Bank for local site development on three or four occasions.

Mancuso sat through two hearings on an application by Cranford-based Synergy Bank to build a branch and drive-through facility on Monmouth Street and, along with five other board members, voted to deny the application on March 24.

According to Mancuso, his position with Murphy Realty doesn’t represent a conflict of interest. "Commerce is already open in Red Bank," he explained. "I think if Commerce and Synergy were competing for a location then it could appear as a conflict. But Commerce is already open in Red Bank and is not seeking any more sites in Red Bank.

"We get involved in only a tiny percentage of Commerce real estate," Mancuso added. "We’ve done three or four deals in Monmouth County; we don’t even handle all their Monmouth County real estate. I’ve never personally been involved."

Planning Board Attorney Michael Leckstein said he doesn’t think the fact that Mancuso’s realty firm scouts locations for a competing bank represents a conflict of interest in the matter of the Synergy application.

"It appears his company at one time represented Commerce Bank, but I don’t see that currently there would be a conflict," he said. "If somebody eats in a restaurant does that mean when the restaurant comes in for a change that they have to disqualify themselves?"

Not present at the Synergy hearings was Red Bank Mayor Edward J.McKenna Jr., who said Tuesday he skipped the proceedings because his law firm once represented Synergy.

"I recused myself because my law firm represented Synergy when it was a federal credit union. They were my client," McKenna explained. "In Dan’s case, does that mean I can’t vote on any application involving a law office or that Dr. Guy Maratta can’t vote on an application involving a chiropractor?

"To say that because Murphy Realty did work for Commerce Bank, which happens to be one of the banks in town, that he has to recuse himself from any other application involving a bank — that’s absurd," McKenna continued. Kevin Wenthen, senior vice president and chief administrative officer of the $500 million-asset Synergy, said he wasn’t aware of Mancuso’s professional affiliation and declined further comment on the issue or on the question of whether Synergy would appeal the board’s denial.

"We’re still very interested in the Red Bank area and intend to continue to pursue having a location in that market area," he said.

Established in 1954, Synergy currently operates 18 branches in the state, four of which are located in Monmouth County.

In a unanimous vote, the Planning Board denied Synergy’s application to locate a branch at 163-165 Monmouth St./80 Oakland St. near the Red Bank Train Station.

Members cited factors including traffic flow onto surrounding streets, problematic circulation within the bank parking lot, and inadequate front setback as reasons for the vote. In general, there was an unwillingness to approve new construction that would require numerous variances.

Synergy’s application sought approval to demolish an existing residence and an auto body shop to permit construction of a 3,550-square-foot branch with a remote drive-through canopy and 16 parking spots on a 25,000-square-foot site fronting Monmouth, West and Oakland streets. The bank is contract purchaser of the site.

A permitted use in the BR-2 and BR-1 zones in which the three lots involved are located, the branch bank application sought variances including front-yard setback, 25 feet required by ordinance while 11 feet was proposed; front-yard setback for accessory structures (the drive-through), 20 feet required while 5 feet was proposed; and size of the accessory structure, 500 square feet maximum allowed and 800 square feet proposed. Design waivers included minimum width of a two-way driveway with 24 feet required and 21.8 feet proposed, and minimum clearance to adjacent property lines with 1 foot proposed while 3 feet are required.

The proposed branch would have driveways on Monmouth, West and Oakland streets. In reviewing the application, Planning Board Engineer George Whelan, of T&M Associates, Middletown, told the board circulation within the parking lot and drive-through was not acceptable.

Located 200 feet to the rear of the branch, the proposed drive-through facility would have three drive-up windows, including an ATM lane, and no bypass lane.

According to Whelan, cars stacked in the drive-through lanes could block ingress and egress at the West Street driveway and force traffic to circulate on borough streets to enter at the Monmouth Street driveway. In addition, he said vehicles might be forced to stack on West Street while waiting to use the drive-through, and vehicles that entered the parking lot and could not find a spot had no room to turn around and exit the lot.

Synergy came to the March 24 hearing with a modified plan for the parking lot, including converting one drive-through lane to a bypass lane, eliminating parking spots to provide room for turning around, reducing the size of the drive-through canopy, and making the Monmouth Street driveway two-way, with right-turn-only egress.

The 21.8-foot width of the two-way drive from the branch to the remote drive-through facility remained, with traffic engineer John Harder noting that industry standards allow a 20-foot-wide aisle for two-way traffic. Large vehicles, he acknowledged, would have to pass through the aisle single file.

"Any development would be faced with this challenge," Harder said.

"We don’t want to create problems with new construction," replied board member Borough Administrator Stanley Sickels.

"We made changes because of the board’s concerns," Synergy attorney Peter Liska said, but board members continued to have reservations about the application, including concerns that traffic exiting onto Monmouth Street would add to existing traffic buildup that occurs when the railroad gates are down.

Harder revealed that two on-street parking spots would have to be eliminated to accommodate the West Street access.

Councilman John Curley observed that traffic problems would be worsened by a condominium development proposed for the corner of Monmouth and West streets.

"My concern is when you have a buildup coming from the railroad, the potential is for vehicles cutting through and dispersing on Oakland and Monmouth streets. It could create a safety issue," he said.

"I’m still not comfortable with the front-yard setback or the aisle width," Mancuso said.

"I’m concerned with queuing and with an ATM that’s 200 feet from the building," said Sickels, who made a motion to deny the application.

Liska intervened. "Before you say no," he said, "can we hear what the feeling of board members is?"

"You’re starting with a clean slate," Mancuso offered. "I’m not comfortable. You’ll tear a building down to build one without front-yard setback. I’m not comfortable with the 21.8-foot aisle. I’m concerned about the West Street entrance, although you need it, and I think the drive-through being there at all is a problem."

Sickels said his concern centered on the narrow width of the two-way aisle and the difficulties it would pose for emergency vehicles.

"We’re wiping this property clean. The configuration is what it is. I’m not in favor of a variance for the setback," he said. "With a clean slate, you should be able to eliminate the setback variance. I’m opposed to West Street access; it’s too short a block and will impact parking and traffic.

"Three driveway accesses in the area will aggravate problems of traffic due to the train," he continued. "This is the application on this site, and I am not comfortable with it given the existing conditions," he said.

"It’s zoned for it," observed Leckstein, "but not every parcel in a zone has to be adaptable for every use in the zone."

Red Bank architect named N.J. architect of the year

Red Bank architect named N.J. architect of the year

Robert F. DeSantisRobert F. DeSantis

Red Bank architect Robert F. DeSantis, of Kaplan Gaunt DeSantis Architects, is the recipient of the AIA New Jersey Society of Architects Architect of the Year Award for 2002.

DeSantis was also recognized by the Jersey Shore Chapter, a preliminary step to receiving the state award.

DeSantis has served on the boards of the Community YMCA and the Rumson Country Day School. He is past president of the AIA New Jersey Shore Chapter and the Red Bank Rotary, and past chair of the Rotary Foundation. He is a past member of the Board of Directors of AIA New Jersey and serves on the legislative and government affairs committees.

DeSantis, who interned under local architect Noberu Kobayashi, was the second member of Kaplan Gaunt DeSantis to be recognized at the Shore Chapter meeting. Gary Y. Kaplan received the Distinguished Service Award for 2002.

Some of the organizations Kaplan has contributed to include Monmouth County Boy Scouts, New Jersey Easter Seal Society, New Jersey Arts Task Force, Pathways Rehabilitation Center, New Jersey Barrier Free Sub-Code Committee, and the Monmouth County Arts Council.

After 34 years in partnership, Kaplan recently retired from full-time practice but will continue as a consultant.

Chamber’s ‘Expo 2003’ slated for April 24

The Eastern Monmouth Area Chamber of Commerce, Red Bank, will hold its 18th annual trade show, "Expo 2003," April 24 from 4-7:30 p.m. Admission is free with attendee’s business card. The event will include more than 50 exhibitors, cash bar, refreshments, networking, and door prizes.

Area sponsors include Branches, Atlantic Security Fire, Ocean Township; Commerce Bank; the Community YMCA, Red Bank; eIS Technology Partners, Eatontown; First Atlantic Federal Credit Union, Tinton Falls; Omega Promotional Products, Middletown; Press Communications, Tinton Falls; WHTG 106.3 FM and Great Gold 1410 AM, Wayside section of Ocean Township; Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer, Eatontown; Holiday Inn, Tinton Falls; Seabrook Village, Tinton Falls; and Smolin, Lupin and Co., West Long Branch.

For more information, call the chamber at (732) 741-0055.

Breathing new life into Red Bank’s west side

By gloria stravelli
Staff Writer

By gloria stravelli
Staff Writer

An artist’s rendering of the renovated and expanded British Cottage Antiques store. The plans call for the addition of living space above the expanded retail floor space which would be occupied by the owners.An artist’s rendering of the renovated and expanded British Cottage Antiques store. The plans call for the addition of living space above the expanded retail floor space which would be occupied by the owners.

Signs of a west-side renaissance continue to appear. Change is coming to the culturally and ethnically diverse sector of Red Bank that is unofficially delineated by Maple Avenue, but more accurately partitioned off from the borough’s downtown and east side by the NJ Transit railroad tracks.

Major projects planned for the west side that have gained the approval of the borough within the past year include a $3.5 million state-of-the-art theater on the Blais­dell Lumber site on Bridge Avenue, a decidedly upscale microbrewery and res­taurant which will occupy the vacant Anderson Ware­house near the railroad station and two major office complexes which will in­clude the world headquarters of home buil­der K. Hovnanian.

Perhaps more significant are projects that will bring an influx of new residents to the area, including a proposed 35-unit condominium/townhouse development at the corner of Monmouth and West streets that is controversial because it received variances to more than double the permitted density of development on the property.

Developers are already lined up to bid on a 2-acre parcel of the Blaisdell tract on Bridge Avenue which developers of the new theater complex will sell off for mixed use, expected to include a multi-unit residential development.

After a yearlong negotiation with the borough, construction will begin in late spring on a 16-unit townhouse development with units priced in the mid-$300,000 range on the site of the former Belle Haven estate on Locust Avenue, in the heart of the west side where additional high-density residential development is likely to take place.

There are many signs of a willingness to reinvest in the west side.

The Red Bank Charter School last week announced plans to acquire the former Oakland Street School building and consolidate K-8 classes there that are now housed at two separate locations.

A few days prior, David Prown disclosed that he had signed a lease for showroom space for Prown’s Home Improve­ments at 135 Monmouth St.

Prown recently shuttered the 77-year-old Prown’s Has Everything retail store on Broad Street.

In the fall, the borough and Red Bank RiverCenter inaugurated the Red Bank Vis­i­tors Center within the historic Red Bank Train Station building. Just a few steps away, Preservation Red Bank restored the original gatekeepers cottage to the train station plaza.

Within walking distance of the train station, Cranford-based Synergy Bank is proposing a branch on property running from Monmouth Street to Oakland Street that is now the site of an auto repair shop.

Within this context, the Red Bank Planning Board recently heard two applications for expansion of west side business properties.

The board approved an application to expand the site of an established west side antiques business into a mixed-use property by adding retail floor space and an apartment for the owners.

The board approved the application of Keith and Tricia Nelson, Rumson, to construct a two-story addition to the existing building currently housing British Cottage Antiques at 126 Shrewsbury Ave.

The appli­cation sought approval for variances including side-yard setback — a setback of 10 feet is required by ordinance while one of 7 feet is proposed in the application — and parking, with 10 spaces required and two provided.

Architect Matthew Cronin told the board that by expanding the commercial area and adding an upstairs apartment they will occupy, the Nelsons "are doing exactly what the intent of the [NB] zone is."

The Nelsons gained the space for the expansion by acquiring the adjacent private residence at 128 Shrewsbury Ave., which Cronin described as a "public nuisance" with numerous violations.

The structure was demolished to make way for the addition.

Tricia Nelson told the board she and her husband had paid up $25,000 in back taxes owed on the property, which Cronin said was in foreclosure.

The application calls for the addition to increase the display area for the antique pine furniture that the store specializes in to 1,996 square feet, and an 1,800-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment above.

The entrance of the store will be relocated to the front of the new addition, and a separate entrance will provide access to the apartment.

The design of the addition will repeat design elements of the building where the business has been located for 17 years, including the gabled roof and covered entrance, Cronin said.

"I commend the Nelsons for taking over the property. Just demolishing it improves the neighborhood," remarked Borough Ad­minis­trator Stanley Sickels, a board member.

According to Sickels, conditions in the demolished house were so onerous that code enforcement officials had to enter the premises wearing protective gear, including respiratory apparatus.

At the same hearing, the board put off a decision on a proposed expansion at Walt Street Pub, 180 Monmouth St.

The proposal would add a two-story, 650-square-foot addition onto the rear of the structure, but because public notice of the hearing failed to specify the eight variances being sought, the application had to be held. The matter was rescheduled for April 14.

The application by pub owner Louis Mustillo seeks major site plan approval; variances for lot coverage and minimum unoccupied open space, parking, lot fron­tage, front and side-yard setback; and a design waiver for parking in a front yard area in the BR-1 zone.

Rumson architect Jack Cain told the board the proposal would expand the pub kitchen on the first floor and provide office and storage space upstairs.

According to Mustillo, the expanded kitchen will make the 35-seat pub a full-service restaurant able to capitalize on the spate of projects planned for the area around the Red Bank Train Station.

"There’s a lot going on in the area," he noted. "I want to make it look nice."

The kitchen expansion would add storage space and make it possible to serve an expanded menu.

A lifelong Red Bank resident, Mustillo noted that the pub has been a Monmouth Street fixture for 20 years and was the first in the area to offer live music.

But neighboring property owner Sylvia Harte told the board the expansion would have a negative impact on her properties, which include a building that houses a dry cleaner. Harte complained that the project would eliminate parking spaces at the rear of the property and block access by customers and tenants.

Cty. grants $20M assessment decrease for Lucent property


By maura dowgin
Staff Writer

Cty. grants $20M assessment
decrease for Lucent property
Company’s tax bill
on Holmdel property
will drop $560,000
By maura dowgin
Staff Writer

The county has ap­proved a tax decrease for Lucent Technologies Inc.

The Monmouth County Board of Taxation agreed March 12 to reduce the assessed value of Lucent’s Holmdel property on Crawfords Corner and Roberts roads by $20 million, said Matthew S. Clark, Monmouth County tax administrator.

Based on last year’s tax rate, the re­duction in property taxes Lucent will experience as a result of the reassess­ment is about $560,000, Holmdel Tax Assessor Eldo Magnani said.

Even with the $20 million reduction in Lucent’s assessment, the township has an additional $63 million in ratables this year because of the new Holmdel Towne Center, the Holmdel Commons and other construction projects around town, Magnani said.

"That basically absorbs this reduc­tion and the homeowner picks up no lia­bility," Magnani said.

With no additional spending in the new budget, which has not been intro­duced, there would be a decrease in property taxes, even though Lucent was reassessed, Magnani said.

Lucent’s property was assessed last year at $130 million. The township asked the county, at Lucent’s request, to reassess the property at $110 million, Clark said.

The assessed value of the property next year is expected to go down again by another $5 million to $105 million, Magnani said.

The $5 million assessment reduction for 2004 has only been approved by the township. The county tax board did not even discuss the possibility of reducing Lucent’s assessment for 2004, Clark said.

The assessment was agreed to by the Township Committee and Lucent at the end of January, Magnani said.

The committee discussed the reduc­tion in Lucent’s assessment in closed session and not at a public meeting be­cause of possible litigation, Mayor Larry Fink said.

"We [Lucent] want to make sure we pay our fair share of taxes and make sure the amount we pay is fair," said John Skalko, spokesman for Lucent.

The township came to the agreement after the company said it would file a tax appeal, which would possibly have cost taxpayers more money, Fink said.

"In 2002, Lucent Technologies told the township that it would be appealing its Crawfords Corner Road property tax assessment by up to 50 percent, which would result in an assessment of [the property at] $65 million," Fink said.

Lucent calculates the 2004 tax re­duction may be about $170,000, Skalko said.

The figures are based on last year’s tax rate because this year’s has not yet been determined.

Every dollar collected through prop­erty taxes is split up three ways: for the township, for the school, and for the county. In Holmdel, 14 cents of every dollar goes to the township and township open space, 64 cents goes to the school district, and 22 cents goes to the county, the county library system and county open space, Magnani said.

The increase of ratable property will increase the amount of money the school receives from taxes by $1.1 mil­lion. If Lucent had not been reassessed, the schools’ share of the property taxes would have been $361,400 more, Magnani said.

The expense to the taxpayers would have been much greater if the township had not come to an agreement and Lucent had decided to file a tax appeal, Magnani added.

"A tax court ruling lowering Lucent’s assessment would have required the township to pay back – out of its own budget – not only its share of excess tax revenue, but also the excess tax revenue collected on behalf of the schools and the county," Fink said.

"Because the township’s share of to­tal tax revenue collected is less than 14 percent, having to pay back 100 percent of Lucent’s tax overpayment would have been devastating to the town’s budget," Fink said.

Corporate business properties are go­ing down in value all over the tri-state area, Magnani said.

The Lucent building is a "combination of research facilities and administrative offices," Skalko said.

"The demand for this type of space is not high right now," Magnani said. The market is flooded with these types of buildings, he added.

"We were faced with the potential of a much bigger hit on our budget and our taxpayers," Fink said.

In the best case scenario for a tax appeal, $700,000 of the township’s rev­enue would have been be put aside this year and $800,000 next year. This would have been used to pay the expenses of a tax appeal by Lucent, Magnani said.

"The advice of our professionals (special tax attorney Maryann Nergaard and Magnani) was that the town was not in a good position and the appeal could have resulted in the town being charged, not only for the municipal portion, but for the school portion and county por­tion," said Christopher Schultz, town­ship administrator.

"Professionals are very important as a tool, but they are just that, a tool," Committeeman Terence Wall said.

Fink is a former employee of Lucent and should not have voted on the agreement because of a conflict of in­terest, Wall said.

"I used to work for Lucent but I haven’t worked for them in over three years. My understanding of the ethics law is that my former employment does not constitute a conflict. Neither does a miniscule investment," Fink said.

There was not enough information to enter into this agreement because Lucent never revealed information about when it sold the property to itself and leased the property to itself as a cost-saving measure, Wall said.

"[The sale-leaseback information] would give us the most current, up-to-date value on the property," Wall said.

"My understanding is that the sale-leaseback information was taken into account and was used in arriving at a settlement that was to the town’s advan­tage," Fink said.

The county did feel the evidence presented was sufficient to reduce the assessment, Clark said.

"Many people in the industry are aware of that sale-leaseback. The board members are aware of that sale-lease­back," Clark said.

At least one member of the commit­tee did not believe there was adequate proof that Lucent planned to appeal its taxes.

"There is no tax appeal on file or filed [from Lucent]," Wall said. "As an elected official, you don’t act on a phone call. You act on documentation."

There was "more than a whisper" about the fact that Lucent was going to appeal if there was no deal, said Janet Berk, deputy mayor and committee­woman.

Township professionals "told us point blank that they (Lucent) are going to appeal," Fink said.

When asked if he believed Lucent would have filed an appeal, Wall said, "Hard to say. If they were passionate in their appeal process, I imagine they would have sent a letter."

This sends a message to corporations that it is not necessary for them to file a tax appeal before the township reduces the assessment of property, Wall said.

In the deal, Lucent agreed not to ap­peal its 2003 or 2004 taxes.

The company could be back in 2005 to appeal its taxes, Fink said.

Lucent will not appeal its taxes in 2005 if the county orders the township to revaluate, Magnani said.

Not only firemen shop here

Specialty shop at 24 Broad St is about to change

By linda denicola
The Hub

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Chuck Henderson and the Babe are making room in the storefront of the Firehouse Specialty Shop, Red Bank, for a new cooperative venture and a new name.


RED BANK — It’s a family affair, the Firehouse Specialty Shop at 24 Broad St. It belongs to Chuck Henderson, his wife Eileen, and their two sons, David and Teddy.

Eileen works in the embroidery shop stitching custom-embroidery orders. They also do silk screening and engraving.

The name, Firehouse Specialty Shop, is somewhat misleading because as Chuck Henderson says, "You don’t have to be a fireman to shop here."

But it does seem as though you have to be a man, or buying for a man, in order to fully appreciate the ambiance of the store which is a man’s man kind of place, replete with a 6-foot tall plaster statue of Yankee baseball legend Babe Ruth.

The Babe stands sentinel in front of the store alongside a sign that says "Danger Men Working," a case full of hot sauces and another long case full of baseball caps embroidered with the name of just about every athletic team there is in the country.

"Most of the hats came from the Clayton McGee store when it closed," Henderson explained.

The look of the store is about to change though and so is the name. Henderson is looking for artists, crafters and antique dealers to help him set up a concession-type area in the front of his store.

"The vendors would not have to be present, but they would have to maintain their booths," he said.

He also plans to change the name to "24 Broad" by the end of June.

The Hendersons purchased the large building three years ago. The two-story building used to house Vogel’s Department Store. Henderson said he did not need that much retail space, so he built two apartments on the second floor, leaving a small area for his retail products which include T-shirts, silk-screened clothing, plaques and samples.

He will continue to provide a smaller sports section and a Jersey Shore souvenir section, in the back of the 2,500-square-foot first floor, he said.

Born in Rumson, raised in Middletown’s River Plaza section, Henderson now lives in Rumson again, with his family. A Vietnam vet who spent 1969 in Nam, he was drafted in 1968 and became a chaplain’s assistant at a Medical Evacuation Unit.

For 14 years he worked in the county Traffic Department. In 1979, while still working, he opened the business on Canal Street across from the parking lot of what is now The Bon Ton department store.

He focused on firemen’s needs, embroidered T-shirts, mugs and gifts. "My theory was to provide one-stop shopping for fire departments. Now business is 90 percent not fire related. We do work for organizations, beach clubs, restaurants and other businesses. All of it is done in-house with the help of computers," he said.

Three years ago he gave up his county job to focus on the business full time.

"Now it’s a lot bigger than I had planned so I’m making these changes," he said. "With arts, crafts and antiques in the front of the store it will have more of the look Red Bank seems to be going for."

Henderson’s location on Broad Street is working out very well, he said. "There’s a lot of foot traffic and a lot of them seem to be tourists," he noted. "I don’t know where they come from, but I remember when I knew just about everyone that came into the store. That’s not the case anymore."

The Broad Street Journal


Meridian Health System Affiliated Foundations will host the 2000 Healthcare Perspectives Luncheon on May 12 at the Ocean Place Conference Resort in Long Branch. Proceeds from the Healthcare Perspectives Luncheon will equally benefit Meridian’s three foundations, Jersey Shore Medical Center, Medical Center of Ocean County, and Riverview, and the hospitals they support. This year the keynote speaker will be Dr. Frank Field, a well-known TV personality and leading speaker in the field of health care.


Shrewsbury Bancorp, the parent company of Shrewsbury State Bank, reported first quarter earnings of $1,293,000 for 2000, an increase of $183,000 or 16 percent over 1999 earnings for the same period. Return on assets amounted to 1.80 percent, which compared with 1.68 percent for 1999.

James W. Harkness Jr., president and chief executive officer of Shrewsbury Bancorp, attributed the earnings improvement to increased net interest income resulting, in part, from continued loan and demand deposit growth.

As of March 31, the total assets of Shrewsbury State Bank amounted to $300 million, an increase in $31 million, or 12 percent, over the comparable period in 1999. Harkness also announced that the board of directors of Shrewsbury Bancorp declared a stock dividend of 4 percent payable to shareholders on record May 5, with a payment date of May 26.


To encourage the continuing education and professional growth of its members, the Education Committee of the Monmouth County Association of Real-tors will present a "Roundtable Confer-ence for Present and Future Brokers and Managers" May 8 at the Sheraton Eatontown Hotel and Conference Center. The conference will cover an array of topics, including general office management, recruiting, survival training for the single office, controlling overhead, increasing market share, motivating agents, laws regarding representation of buyers and sellers, and developing marketing programs. Seminars will be moderated by top MCAR members from Johnson and Johnson Realty, Crossroads Realty Inc., C21 Action Plus Realty, Woodward Realty Group, Coldwell Banker Res. Brokerage, Weichert Realtors, Jeff Klein Realty and Weidel Realtors.

Registration and a continental breakfast will begin at 8:30 a.m. Programs will be held from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Cost is $10 per person and must be received by MCAR by May 5. To register, call Jennifer at (732) 946-3001.


Karen M. Vodarsik, certified public accountant, recently joined Cowan, Gunteski & Co., P.A. Ms. Vodarsik graduated cum laude from Monmouth University, Long Branch, with a bachelor of science degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting. Vodarsik has three years of public accounting experience which includes the preparation of corporate, individual and partnership tax returns. Additionally, she is experienced in audit reviews and compilation services.

Karen M. Vodarsik, certified public accountant, recently joined Cowan, Gunteski & Co., P.A. Ms. Vodarsik graduated cum laude from Monmouth University, Long Branch, with a bachelor of science degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting. Vodarsik has three years of public accounting experience which includes the preparation of corporate, individual and partnership tax returns. Additionally, she is experienced in audit reviews and compilation services.

The Arc to honor outstanding businesses, employees


he Arc of Monmouth and its Business Advisory Council will hold an Employer Appreciation Breakfast at Lane Hall, Fort Monmouth, May 18 from 8:30-10:30 a.m. to honor employers who believe in the abilities of people with disabilities.

Five awards will be given to employers who have hired people with mental retardation or supplied subcontract work to be performed at The Arc’s Work Opportunity Center (WOC), Long Branch, and by students in the Dorothy B. Hersh High School at the Arc Center. An award also will be presented for Employee of the Year.

Employer of the Year will go to Eatontown Public Works Department which has employed three people with developmental disabilities for the past 12 years. The Most Supportive Employer of the Year Award will go to J.C. Penney in Freehold Raceway Mall for not only employing individuals with developmental disabilities, but instituting measures to make it easier for them to learn their tasks.

The Outstanding Contractor of the Year Award will be presented to St. Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick. For nine years, the WOC has provided operating-room suction canister kits to St. Peter’s.

The Subcontractor of the Year Award will go to BUCA Inc., Neptune. A wholesaler in the rapidly growing wireless industry, BUCA has provided the WOC with a range of packaging and assembly work. In the past year, WOC has assembled or packaged 75,787 units for the company.

Pathmark, Freehold Township, will receive the Most Accommodating Employer of the Year Award for consistently hiring people with developmental disabilities for many areas of the store and for going out of its way to see that these workers are successful.

Employee of the Year is Bill Hindman, who works at Foodtown in Wall collecting shopping carts. He will receive the award for making the transition from a sheltered workshop to a competitive job in the community and for successfully holding that job for 13 years.

According to Arc executive Mary E. Scott, the Employer Appreciation Breakfast each year serves as an excellent opportunity for the local business community to network and learn the benefits of a diversified workforce.

"We urge everyone to call upon Arc if they have any employment needs in which we can assist," Scott said. "We have a team of experienced job coaches, some of whom have been with us since we began these programs 15 years ago.

"Persons with disabilities may be just the answer to an employer’s hiring problems. They take great pride in their work and often have outstanding attendance records."

Employers and potential employers are invited to attend the breakfast. For further information, call Isis McDonald at (732) 493-1919, ext. 555.