train sheds
The Lackawanna Train Station in the 1920s.

By Jaimie Julia Winters

A petition to save the Lackawanna Train Station train sheds to be re-purposed as a supermarket has been started on PlanetCivic.

The mixed-use project, almost four years in the making, would transform the historic Lackawanna railroad station property into a multi-use development with 154 units of housing and a roof-top pool and garden, and could include a supermarket. Most of the historic buildings would be re-purposed in the design, but plans call for razing the sheds to make way for more parking for the supermarket.

Some residents have suggested the sheds, made into a mall with a glass atrium covering in the 1980s, instead be kept intact and re-purposed as a food court-type market, an art/antique market or an amenity space with outdoor seating.

Read: Council: Get moving on the supermarket

Read: Could saving Lackawanna train sheds derail supermarket?

Contending the project needs to move along and that Fourth Ward is in need of a supermarket sooner than later, the council passed a resolution in May giving its support of the project. However, historic preservationists believe more time is needed to come up with a better plan for the historic property in order to save the 1913 train sheds.

“The train sheds should be preserved and used to house a new supermarket. The train track sheds are integral to the site’s historical identity. The historic character and architectural quality of the space will lend itself to a superior shopping experience, a more attractive destination and an opportunity to activate and bring vibrancy to the important cross roads of Bloomfield/Glen Ridge Avenue and Grove Street,” the petition launched on Friday reads.

The train sheds were designed by the engineer Lincoln Bush, whose design allowed passengers to be protected from the elements while allowing the exhaust gases from locomotives to escape. Bush train sheds were built at five stations, Montclair station being the only one in a smaller town.

Last month, the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) stated in a memo to the planning board that it found the developer’s plans for demolition of the Lackawanna train sheds to make way for parking inconsistent with Montclair’s code on demolition of historic properties and that the sheds met the criteria for retaining due to their historical significance.

Montclair resident David Greenbaum posted the petition. He is also a member of the HPC. By Saturday, June 9, the petition had garnered 21 in favor, five against votes.