RUMSON TO REPLACE RIVERFRONT HOUSE

victory-park-house-092511A derelict house next door to Victory Park will be razed and replaced with a boathouse for RFH Rowing, the mayor says. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rumson officials expect this week to advance a plan to demolish a vacant riverfront home the town bought for $875,000 three years ago.

In its place, says Mayor John Ekdahl, will likely rise a new structure expected to serve as home to the borough’s nascent rowing program.

What the new facility will look like – and how much it will cost – remain to be determined, Ekdahl tells redbankgreen. But the bill, which could easily approach $1 million, will be be borne by donors, not taxpayers, he said.

“Certainly the borough can’t be building a boathouse,” he said. “It’s probably going to be 100-percent fundariser” supported.

The borough bought the property, an overgrown lot adjoining Victory Park, in October, 2008, with about half the purchase price covered by state and county grants, including state Green Acres funding, Ekdahl said.

The acquisition covered only the half of the lot fronting on the Navesink River, with the portion on West River Road remaining in private hands. An easement allows access to the site from the road.

The borough intends to make the property an extension of Victory Park, which entails removing some trees and undergrowth as well a deteriorated bulkhead.

In coming weeks, the town plans to demolish the decrepit house, which Ekdahl refers to as “the haunted house.”

“It’s a real hazard, and an attractive nuisance,” he said.

Alterations to ease the slope of the ground are expected to occur soon.

But first, officials need to formalize a waiver from the state Department of Environmental Protection allowing the town to rebuild on the existing footprint of the structure, something that would not otherwise be allowed.

Discussion of the matter is on the borough council’s agenda for Tuesday night, and Ekdahl said officials have been assured by the state that the waiver will be granted.

What will replace the house is an open question, though.

Ekdahl said he has to temper expectations for a lavish “ultra” boathouse of the kind that line the Schuykill River in Philadelphia. He said he envisions a two-story structure, with the lower level used to store boats and other equipment, and the upper level containing a meeting room that could be used by anyone in the community.

The process of coming up with potential designs for the building is expected to begin next year, Ekdahl said. Having a design plan in hand will make fundraising easier, he said.