Friday, October 12, 2007

Move the Aberdeen-Matawan Train Station Back to Matawan

There’s a 14-year waiting list to get a parking space near the train station. There’s a huge undeveloped lot at the corner of Aberdeen Rd. and Main St. that runs alongside the train tracks. The location has easy access to the Garden State Parkway, Rt. 35, and Rt. 36. The plan is simple: Build a Matawan-Aberdeen transportation hub that includes a train station, bus stops, small shops, and a multiple level parking garage.

The site presently has a taxi station, dry cleaner, dog grooming salon, and a small diner. The town has the authority to condemn the properties through eminent domain but I would strongly prefer to offer the owners above market prices on the properties.

The town could build and manage a 5-level parking garage with an approximate 500 car capacity. The ground floor would have a train station, bus stops, and some shops, including a café and a convenience store. An overpass would run from Aberdeen Rd. over the train tracks and directly to the new station. Main St. would be widened to accommodate buses and cars turning into the station.

Additionally, land being used for the current train station and commuter parking could be converted for commercial uses, such as office space, medical clinics, or incubators for new businesses. By extending Station Plaza across Atlantic Avenue alongside the present train station and then looping back to Main St., we can open several acres of land to development. We can also allow (not force), the homes in that area to rezone for commercial.

To constrain costs, the parking garage would be available to permit holders only. An officer could go through the garage twice a day to ensure the garage is being used for permit holders only or we could use cameras that simply read the license plates.

The public parking garage would, satisfy the demand for commuter parking, open up land for commercial development, and be the first step towards revitalizing Main St.

The problem is cost. My guesstimate is that it would cost $6 million to acquire the land, overcome legal challenges, construct the building, widen the roads, and build an overpass from Aberdeen Rd. Assuming we could get a million dollars in assistance from the state, New Jersey Transit, and Monmouth County, that still leaves us with a $5 million price tag. A two-tiered pricing system ($20/month for residents and $50/month for non-residents) and rental income should more than offset the estimated $200,000 in annual operating costs.

Is it worth the money? I believe it is.

The property would be jointly owned by Aberdeen and Matawan. Homeowners in both towns would equally share the burden. Paying off $5 million over 30 years through municipal bonds would cost the average household about $30 per year.

Is it worth $30 per year to have a mini transportation hub, satisfy the demand for commuter parking, open up land to commercial development, and take the first step towards revitalizing Main St.? I say yes.
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Anonymous said...

you must not have a view of this lovely 5 level parking garage. How attractive it will be to the historical homes that are in the area. MOVE BACK TO NY and leave this area alone!

Aberdeener said...

Current plans for the transit village propose a 10-story building, additional smaller buildings, and massive parking garages to accommodate 9,000 new parking spaces. By contrast, I consider my proposal to be quite modest.

Truth In Matawan said...

Anonymous, thanks for your constructive feedback. Can you share with us your fine ideas for revitalizing downtown Matawan, remedying our tax situation, ameliorating the parking problem at the train station, and turning around our failing school district?

Anonymous said...

"MOVE BACK TO NY and leave this area alone!"

I think many high-income households absolutely find Aberdeen/Matawan unattractive and have stayed away from this area. The lack of attractive retail, the lack of good job opportunities, the lack of demand in housing... keep it up... let's see how fast you can catch up to Detroit.

Anonymous said...

When you have some time Aberdeener, what do you suggest for world peace? Or a cure for cancer. Seems like you know everything.