Peeling paint and rotting wood at the Red Bank train station have preservationists worried about “demolition by neglect.” (Click to enlarge)

Red Bank’s Historic Preservation Commission has gone on the offensive against New Jersey Transit, owner of the borough train station, for what it calls apparently “intentional” lack of maintenance.

The agency’s failure to replace a failing asphalt shingle roof or do basic painting on the circa 1875 structure constitutes “demolition by neglect,” leaving the building in “such a deteriorated state that Transit will insist they have no other option other than to demolish the structure,” the commission says in a letter presented to the borough council Monday night.

The roof itself was to have been a “temporary” replacement of the original slate roof after it failed. That was 15 years ago, HPC chairman George Bowden told the governing body.

Reading from a letter over the name of the commission’s other members — Michaela Ferrigine, Mary Gilligan, Edward Poplawski, Mark Fitzsimmons and David Pascale — Bowden said failure of the exterior wood due to water infiltration “is causing structural issues, with cracks in the interior walls which in turn are fostering vermin infestation.”

The commission, which has no governmental authority and serves as an advisory and watchdog body, asked the council to form a committee of “public and private individuals” to analyze the condition of the building and recommend preservation measures.

But Mayor Pasquale Menna said that step was unnecessary, and that the building was NJT’s responsibility. He recommended a resolution be drafted for consideration at the August 24 council meeting and sent to NJT officials and its board of directors.

At the urging of Councilman Mike DuPont, who wanted the resolution immediately, Menna dictated one, which the council unanimously approved. It noted that the station was the site of a visit in 1939 by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth and its inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, and called on NJT to act.

A request for comment left by redbankgreen with NJT’s media relations office was not returned Tuesday.

The dire condition of the building has also been called out by Preservation Red Bank, a non-governmental body of which Bowden is also a member.

Here’s the HPC leter: hpc-letter1