No timetable set for Linden train station repairs

Boards block entrances at the bottom and top of a stairway that is closed due to a crumbling foundation.

LINDEN, NJ — NJ Transit has met with Linden officials to discuss fixes to the city’s train station after a councilman last month raised concerns about who should pay for the restorations.

Councilman Peter Brown showed LocalSource a number of issues at the station in October, including a stairway to the platform that was barricaded due to a crumbling foundation, missing sheets of glass protecting ticket machines and large gaps in the pavement on a ramp leading to the platform.

Brown, along with Councilman Barry Javick and Mayor Derek Armstead, met with NJ Transit’s government relations and real estate departments Nov. 13.

“I highlighted as far as what are some of the repairs that need to be done right away,” Brown said. “We cannot wait a year for repairs to be done and (NJ Transit) acknowledged that.”

A broken lamp post lies in a patch of grass along a fence near one of the parking lots at the train station.

Brown previously contended that the city should not be responsible for what he considered to be major repairs. But the contract between NJ Transit and the city specifies that the municipality is responsible for maintenance. The decision as to what is a repair and what is maintenance will determine who pays for the fixes.

“Under the agreement, the city is responsible for certain aspects of station maintenance,” NJ Transit spokesman Jim Smith said. “It was agreed the terms of the agreement would be clarified in regards to the city’s maintenance responsibilities.”

A timetable was not provided about the repairs to the station, which could pose a problem for the city’s proposed $950,000 bond ordinance to finance capital improvements. The proposed ordinance, which was tabled in August pending NJ Transit’s approval, will expire by January, Brown said.

Under the current agreement, the city keeps 60 percent of the revenue generated from subleases and parking permits at the station, with 40 percent going to NJ Transit. The city’s proposal would pay back the bond using NJ Transit’s 40 percent share, Brown said last month.

The transit agency agreed to “review” capital improvements at the station, Smith said. The contract between the city and the agency makes NJ Transit responsible for all major capital improvements to the parking lots and station building it owns.

Some city maintenance relies upon NJ Transit’s repairs, Brown said. For example, it would be impossible to replace the glass since the metal frames are eroded, a repair that is not the responsibility of the city, he said.

Last month, Brown collected more than 130 signatures on a petition asking for NJ Transit to make “necessary” repairs to the station.
The repairs are a priority for Brown since new residential developments have cropped up about a block from the station, including the Capodagli Property Company’s new apartment complex. There are also plans to build across the street from that new development.

Linden recently put finishing touches to the first phase of a streetscape project along Wood Avenue from Blancke Street to Penn Railroad Avenue leading to the station, too.