Group Hopes to Create New Image for Downtown Eatontown

Project would improve aesthetics and traffic through Route 35 and surrounding streets


The Pride in Eatontown Committee is looking to improve the aesthetics and traffic flow of downtown Eatontown and also help preserve the history of the area.

The committee is looking to secure a transportation enhancement grant that would fund the project and is looking to get support from local groups to assist in the process

Pride In Eatontown members Judy Bretzger and Barbara Olsavsky presented their plans during an Eatontown Economic Advisory Committee meeting on Aug. 7.

Bretzger said the scope of the project includes the Route 35 corridor, West Street, the plaza between Broad Street and Lewis Street and the Main Street bridge over the Wampum Pond spillway.

"We are looking to improve landscaping, scenic beauty, preserve and showcase the railway corridor and emphasize our existing historic attractions," Bretzger said. "It would beautify the transportation throughfare, local business parking areas and would help reduce Route 35 South congestion."

Bretzger said the committee wants to incorporate a trolley theme into the project to pay homage to the Monmouth Electric Company's trolley that used to take travelers from Red Bank through Eatontown and into Long Branch. The trolley was in operation form 1898 to 1923 and its route was replaced by buses.

Olsavsky said one way to incorporate the trolley theme is to create a trolley-themed walkway along the sidewalks in the West Street lot with historic lighting, signage and landscaping.

"We also hope to continue the unification of the trolley them into the Lewis Street and West Stree parking area," Olsavsky said.

Another possibility is to move the Route 35 bus stop onto Lewis Street or to create a cutaway on Route 35 sou the bus could pull over instead of stopping traffic as it drops off and picks up riders.

Bretzger said a "trolley-themed bus shelter" could also be built at that bus stop.

Another major area of the project would be to emphasize the abandoned railway corridor near West Street and give it a historic distinction, according to Bretzger.

Olsavsky said she would also like to establish the original location of the Eatontown Lockup, which was located along the railway corridor. She said she hoped to mark the location with a free-standing door in the style of the original jail door.

The lockup was the site where, On March 5, 1886, a riotous crowd gathered and lynched Samuel “Mingo Jack” Johnson. Mingo Jack was an African American and former slave, was locked up in the building, and was accused of raping Angeline Herbert, a white woman, earlier in the day.

Olsavsky said the area could incorporate historic material about Mingo Jack.

"It's history and we need to bring it to everyone's attention in a nice, elegant way," Olsavsky said.

Bretzger said she also hopes to replace the guard rail on Main Street bridge over the Wampum Pond spillway with "something more attractive."

Councilman Dennis Connelly was in attendance at Tuesday's meeting and said he supports the project.

"I love the historic value and I think the theme could spark some interest in the project," Councilman Connelly said. "We want people to look to their right or left when driving through the downtown area."

Mayor Gerald Tarantolo said the area of the project, which lies in the borough's redevelopment zone, is in need of help.

"I think you are on to something that can be developed into an overall plan," Mayor Tarantolo said.

The mayor said the borough also has $100,000 earmarked for a traffic light  project that would synchronize all the lights from the Eatontown-Red Bank border to the newly-completed Route 35/36 intersection. The main area of the proposed project lies in the middle of that area, and the synchronization would help improve the traffic flow on Route 35 through Eatontown.

Bretzger said she hopes to speak to more borough groups before the Pride in Eatontown Committee applies for the grant next year.

Carly Taylor August 08, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Are you kidding with this? Why don't you put this money toward easing all the congestion over there. Between Route 35 and Route 36, it's a nightmare. The heck with "beautifying" "historic" blah, blah, blah - fix the traffic!
Bob English August 09, 2012 at 03:30 AM
All of these ideas would be good improvements to the downtown area.
Gerri Hopkins August 09, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Sure Carly the state just spent millions and millions of $'s to revamp the 35/36 intersection with the intent to provide for a better traffic flow and now you want us to fix it!? How many of those planning sessions did you attend or are you aware that because both 35 and 36 are State roads, we don't get to say what they do or don't do to them?! Whatever is decided regarding beautification/improvements to the proposed Lewis and West Street project any changes that directly involve routes 35 & 36 will have to be approved by the state. Thanks to the committee for coming up with a plan to not only beautify our downtown area but to also show, in part, the history attached to our town.
Judy Bretzger August 09, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Carly, apparently you did not realize this proposal is for a grant from the DOT. The grant, if we received it, is for "scenic enhancement." Actually, our plan would speed the flow of traffic on 35, although other factors in it are primarily historic and scenic. W at the Pride in Eatontown Committee would love to hear your ideas on improving traffic and improving downtown commercial appeal. We meet at Borough Hall the first Tuesday of each month and the public is very welcome.
ArmyBrat August 09, 2012 at 06:37 PM
I would love to see the area fixed up, right now it is a sight for sore eyes. Currently, It doesn't represent the people who live and love the town.


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