LINDEN, NJ — The Linden Train Station, along NJ Transit’s Northeast Corridor line, has fallen into disrepair, one city councilman says, but there is pushback from NJ Transit as to who should pay for necessary fixes.
Linden 3rd Ward Councilman Peter Brown wants NJ Transit to pay for what he says are major repairs. But officials from the transportation authority say the city is responsible for minor maintenance. And therein lies the discrepancy: What constitutes a repair and what is basic maintenance?
Brown gave LocalSource a tour of the station Oct. 18, to point out the facility’s state of disrepair. Issues include a stairway to the platform that was closed off due to a crumbling foundation, eroded and rusted metal frames, missing sheets of glass for protecting ticket machines and large gaps in the pavement on a ramp leading to the platform.
“The reason that this is such a priority to us is that we’re getting all this development around town,” Brown said during the tour. “Wouldn’t you want your train station looking presentable?”
The city is nearly finished with the first phase of a streetscape project along Wood Avenue from Blancke Street to Penn Railroad Avenue, which includes three blocks leading up to the station.
Capodagli Property Company, meanwhile, also has developed a new apartment complex about a block away from the station on Linden Avenue and plans to build more across the street soon, Brown said.
According to the councilman, the city has used grant money to fix the indoor waiting room at the station, but contends that NJ Transit should pick up the tab for major repairs.
On Monday, he collected 135 signatures on a petition calling for NJ Transit to make “necessary repairs” to the station.
“Per an existing agreement the town is responsible for maintaining the station,” NJ Transit spokesman Jim Smith said in an Oct. 19 statement.
NJ Transit provided LocalSource with a copy of the operating agreement and its lease to the city, which began in 2004, and initially ran for five years.
According to the agreement, the city is responsible for removing and replacing broken glass or mirrors and the “repair” of concrete, including sidewalks, concrete decks and more due to chipping, cracking or spallings, according to the agreement. However, repairs to to any columns should be directed to NJ Transit.
But Brown said in some cases, it would be impossible to replace the glass since the metal frames are eroded, something the councilman says is not the responsibility of the city to repair.
A large metal lamp post also lies in a small patch of grass near in the parking lot closest to Linden Avenue, something for which the city is not accountable, Brown said.
Maintenance of all stairways and minor resurfacing of the parking lots are also the responsibility of the city, the agreement states. Additionally, the city must repair masonry, including brick, concrete and granite blocks, as well as the general daily upkeep of its parcels, which include most of the parking lots and platforms on both sides of the station.
NJ Transit is generally responsible for the train tracks. In addition, all major capital improvements to the parking lots and station building owned by NJ Transit are the responsibility of the agency, the lease states.
The city keeps 60 percent of the revenue generated from subleases and parking permits, while NJ Transit keeps 40 percent. If Linden wants to make “alterations or improvements,” the city must cover those costs after first getting approval from NJ Transit.
The city tabled an ordinance in August to finance capital improvements at the train station with $950,000 in bonds from the city. Brown said the ordinance was tabled pending approval by NJ Transit.
“The city will bond and do the repairs, and to pay back that bond, we’ll take it out of the 40 percent we give (NJ Transit),” Brown said of his proposal.
“NJ TRANSIT is reviewing Linden’s bonding proposal to pay for these improvements,” Smith said in his statement. “We expect to provide a formal response to the city, once our review is completed in the near future.”