By Jaimie Julia Winters
A historian attempting to debunk the validity of the historic nature of the Lackawanna train sheds, and two residents with a vision of using the train sheds as a supermarket and dine-in food market are expected to testify at tonight’s Lackawanna Redevelopment meeting.
Plans call for the historic Lackawanna railroad station property to be built into a multi-use development including 154 units of housing with a roof-top pool and garden, and could include a supermarket. Most of the historic buildings would be re-purposed into the design, but developers contend the train sheds, now part of glass-enclosed mall, need to be razed to make way for more parking for a supermarket.
Residents of the Fourth Ward, who have been without a supermarket since November 2015 when the Pathmark at Lackawanna closed its doors, contend a new supermarket, and the entire project before the planning board for four years, have been delayed too long.
Historic preservationists, who seek to incorporate the train sheds into the plans, are expected to present their vision tonight. They envision a grocery store and dining area using the architecture, light and space of the sheds, which were enclosed in a glass atrium in the 1980s.
“[These plans are] not limited to any single neighborhood or ward, but for the greater good of all Montclairions and our close neighbors and guests,” states the presentation by David Greenbaum and John Reimnitz AIA.
Both are Montclair Historic Preservation commissioners, but Greenbaum said the presentation was conceived and prepared separate and apart from the commission and represents views independent from (but not wholly inconsistent with) their work on the HPC.
On behalf of the applicant, Steven Bedford is expected to give testimony claiming the train platforms do not meet historical criteria to be saved from demolition. Bedford has a Ph.D. in Architectural History from the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University and a professional degree in architecture from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
“The train platforms have lost their integrity and the resulting conclusion is that demolition of the interior mall is not inconsistent with historic preservation principals or requirements. And, based upon: (1) the aforementioned losses of integrity; and (2) the fact that the platform canopies were common (as opposed to being rare or unique “Lincoln Bush Train Sheds”), I disagree with the Montclair Historic Preservation Commission’s recommendation that the proposed demolition of the interior mall is inconsistent with Section 347-137(D) of the Montclair Code,” Bedford wrote in his report.
Residents have started a petition to save the train sheds on PlanetCivic.org.
The council, contending the project needs to move along and that Fourth Ward is in need of a supermarket “sooner than later,” passed a resolution in May giving its support of the project.
The meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. in township hall.