The Heart of Red Bank
By: Daniel Murphy
Our town is a living thing; it has a body comprised of the land, the river, the buildings and homes and a heart and pulse generated by the people that live here. We generate the way in with our town stays healthy and vibrant. Like any living organism, to stay healthy, it needs to grow with the climate, be it social or economic change. There have been times over the past forty years that our towns’ health and vibrancy has faded almost on a cyclical base. We are in that time frame again.
Red Bank’s heart has never stopped, as opposed to us mortals, our town can be ageless. All it needs is an infusion of new blood, new directions and new venues to become strong again. The heart of the town lies with us and from over sixty years of living here, we have a great heart. The Mind of Red Bank lies within the mayor and council, the residents and all the business and charity organizations that we created within our town. It is up to us to recognize what needs to be done or changed to keep our town healthy economically, socially and emotionally.
After heart and Mind, we need new muscle to drive us. From what I have read and/or experienced from our recent history, 1930’s to the 1950’s were driven by the muscle of downtown merchants and the employment of 40% of our population by the Eisner family and factories. As we hit the 1960’s to 1970’s the factories closed and the advent of malls turned Red Bank into Dead Bank. We became strong from 1994 again until 2008 as “Hip Town.” The muscle came from the Borough Council, Rivercenter, Restaurants and retailers. From 2008 on the recession, competition from Asbury Park and Long Branch, high rents and retail losing out to the Internet sales has put a toll on our strengths.
So, where is the new muscle coming from? The cycle comes back to the Arts and Antique District starting with the Eisner Building now the Galleria. Add to that the Count Basie Theater, the Two River Theater, the art gallerias, service businesses and new restaurants. Niche stores like Novel Teas, A Step in Stone, The Spa at the Galleria, four new hair salons and a litany of service businesses.
Call it the new Soho or the Left Bank, here is where the new muscle will come from. There is also the possibility of a 200 space parking area that can generate monies to the town and to the Two River Theater. Put that altogether with advertising, social media, promotions and the heart and mind we already have and we are back in business. We need to generate people coming for the theatres, dinning, antiques, art and shopping in Red Bank. Hopefully, in a short time the need to concentrate on “what to do with all the people coming to Red Bank” will be the problem to deal with.
And for the residents in town, take Heart. All of the above will help to stabilize our forever raising tax rates.