Train station's future unclear

Published in the Asbury Park Press 7/31/01


MANASQUAN -- Six years after the Manasquan train station burned down, the future of the station is unclear to residents who say the historical significance of the 120-year-old building should be preserved.

Negotiations over the station's future have been ongoing since 1996 between the borough, which owned the station, NJ Transit, which owned the property the station stood on, and the insurance company, which insured the property.

"I'm just concerned they are going to reach a settlement without public participation," resident Alice Hemphill said.

The two-story Victorian structure served as the borough's train station from when it was built in the late 19th century until it burned down in 1995. At the time it was destroyed, the building was home to a taxi cab company, the borough Recreation Commission and the Manasquan Historical Society.  Although all three parties have said they want something built where the old train station stood, Mayor John L. Winterstella said the type of building and who will maintain the building is still being debated.  Winterstella said he is not at liberty to say whether the train station will be replaced or "what the physical results of the settlement will be." But he said it is "not necessarily monetary in nature."

"The reality is that I am not sure who would use a full-size railroad station right now," he said.

Winterstella explained that the Manasquan Historical Society has its own building and that borough hall, which will be replaced with a new building this year, provides the borough with adequate meeting space.

But he hopes the new building will provide a heated waiting area that is protected from the environment, he added. An unprotected shelter is now on the property.
As a member of the Save Our Station group, which restored the building in the mid-1980s, Rick Thomas said he is hopeful that borough officials decide to recreate at least the bottom floor of the original station.

"I would like to see a train station that reflects the ambience of the town there, not a plastic shelter like they have now," he said.

Naomi Mueller: (732) 643-4024 or [email protected]

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