By Beth Purdy
(For one of Beth’s social work classes, she and a group of peers analyzed the problems in Red Bank through interviews and personal tours of the town. These are some of her notes.)
A few blocks away from the glitzy stores and lavish restaurants lies an simmering but all too real problem in Red Bank. There is a serious division between the town, one being the east side or the upper middle class side, and the other being the west side or the more run down, lower class side.
While it would seem that the most Red Bank police have to deal with are upper class twentysomethings stumbling out of bars, a world of gang violence (bloods, crips, ms13, CTS), a culture of drugs and prostitution secretly grows on the other side of the train tracks.
Originally the east side was pushed out to be mostly upper middle class, pushing those into the west side or neighboring towns. Now it seems that the west side is going to be pushed out as well, pushing out lower class residents and those that cannot afford a higher cost of living.
Those who have lived in Red Bank all of their lives and do not have much money may be forced to move out of their home town due to development of ritzier areas. Furthermore, even though many people on the east side are wealthy, even they don’t seem to be rich enough anymore. Shops that surround the area increasingly cater towards very wealthy people. It seems as if Red Bank is trying to adapt to a wealthier life style and push out everyone else in the process.
When going to the west side, it was like going from day to night. The road that the Lunch Break soup kitchen was placed also had a bunch of boarded, abandoned houses along with many houses with what looked like eviction notices on doors. As two of my group members were driving around the residential area of the west side, they were tailed by a police officer for four blocks, as if they were up to something suspicious.
Whereas the east side had fancy and upbeat restaurants and bistros for sit down meals, the west side had a large amount of fast food chain restaurants. The one thing that was very noticeably was the vast amount of liquor stores on the west side.
Additionally, there are a lot of Laundromats; we noticed that many people were walking with bags of clothing, probably bringing them to be cleaned. We also saw a lot of diverse groups walking in big groups and gathered on street corners.
Surprisingly, there were some women walking with baby strollers, even though there was snow on the ground from the snow storm the day before. Compared to the east side, there was a lot of garbage laying around and overflowing dumpsters.
We also picked up a magazine in Red Bank called “Red Bank Red Hot.” Many of the ads in it were very ritzy almost aiming more towards the east side. At the end of the magazine there was a Red Bank town map, and looking at it closely, only the east side was put in, as if the west side was not even part of Red Bank.
It is as if the east side of Red Bank is ashamed of the west side and does not want to be included or associated with them.
INTERVIEW WITH RED BANK POLICE OFFICER
- Red Bank’s mayor is Pasquale Menna.
- Ethnic groups: a lot of different ethnicities live around the train station, especially Hispanic. They live in Red Bank, but take the train to commute south to work in restaurants. Eastside: mostly white.
- Housing: there are a lot of high rise apartments on the eastside (Maple Ave is the divider for eastside and Westside), some going for $10,000 a month, and houses, mostly on Front Street and behind the business district. The Westside has housing projects (on Locust Ave).
- Many people are moving to Westside or Tinton Falls, or their houses are being passed on through their family.
Problems seen in Red Bank:
There are two sides to Red Bank:
Eastside, A lot of people coming from the bars at night being drunk and disorderly. Sometimes the town can get very over crowded, because of its location (between NYC and Atlantic City), for example, there are 100,000 people who come for 4th of July fireworks.
Westside: Mostly Hispanic and African American population, a lot of drugs and violence.
Westside: prostitution, gangs (bloods, crips, ms13, CTS) generally keep a low profile, drugs. Eastside: underage drinking in bars, bar fights in streets. Want to try to keep problems away from business district because businesses will get unhappy and take their business somewhere else.
Very diverse, in the past it was mostly African American, but then the business district, on the eastside, started to develop and become more upper-class, white families started to move it, because it was good from commuting to the city (train station, buses, parkway entrance), so the lower class African American families got pushed over to the Westside and into other towns, like Tinton Falls and Eatontown. Now the eastside is mostly White and the Westside a mix of white, African American and Hispanic.
Issues people in town are talking/concerned about:
Once a month the town board meets. Anyone can go to meetings, voicing their concerns and issues. Most of the time people complain about the bars and drunken people, loud music, disorderly conduct, kids getting into bars underage and then getting into fights on the streets. West side is underrepresented.
DYFS has many programs, there is the Salvation Army on Navesink River Road, the police department held a charity drive during Thanksgiving, collecting food for local families, if a homeless person comes to the station and their most recent address was in Red Bank, they will take them over to Fort Monmouth to a homeless shelter there, and they work with Animal Control and will also help other townships with animal control problems, learning centers, YMCA, and Social Services
How did Red Bank get this way? Do you agree? What can we do about it? Think! Disagree! Discuss! Care!