Thursday, November 12, 2009

Red Bank, N.J., train station awaits repair

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The battle of the borough train station continues as historians voiced concerns that the Victorian-style NJ Transit station will go through the winter with peeling paint and rotting holes in the wooden walls and window sills, the Asbury Park Press reports. NJ Transit officials confirmed there are no plans for work on the station until after next summer when contracts are scheduled to be awarded for repairs and painting. However, they insist the station is structurally sound.

Borough Historic Preservation Committee members reiterated concerns raised last August, noting cold weather will soon prevent any work from being done to the historic station. Historians even volunteered to paint the building themselves.

Mayor Pasquale "Pat" Menna offered to set up a meeting with NJ Transit.

"We welcome a meeting with the mayor. Our engineers checked the building and it is structurally sound," said Richard Sarles, NJ Transit executive director. "Plans are under way to do the work. Advertisement (for bids) is scheduled next summer."

Historians are concerned about the station going through a winter season with peeling paint and holes in wooden clapboard exterior walls and around some window sills.

"That meeting should be on the track two platform, so they can get the best view of the deterioration," said Mary Gilligan, Historic Preservation Committee member. "I'm very disappointed. They could be doing something in the interim to protect the building from the winter."

Councilman Edward Zipprich, Historic Preservation Committee liaison, said he would like to sit in on the NJ Transit meeting with other committee members to hear plans for its repair and maintenance.

"A sit-down would be a good thing . . . since it (the station) is on the National Register of Historic Places and had a number of dignitaries come through it," Zipprich said. "It warrants being maintained."

Gilligan blamed an "obvious lack of routine maintenance," which she said has become a crisis that will be more expensive to repair.

Zipprich said it has been at least 12 years since the station was last painted.

Councilman Michael DuPont suggested getting NJ Transit's permission to allow the borough's Public Works Department to fill in holes in the outside walls.

"We have volunteers ready to paint it if it was Red Bank's and not NJ Transit's," said George Bowden, committee chairman.

But the rotted holes in the wooden siding is the main concern, Gilligan said.

"Painting it without repairing it doesn't make a whole lot of sense," she said.

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