ROXBURY, NJ - New Jersey Transit owns the railroad station at Lake Hopatcong, but its own representatives were surprised at the condition of the outpost during a recent visit, according to a Roxbury official.
The station needs attention, something representatives from New JerseyTransit saw in a recent meeting there, said Roxbury Councilman Bob DeFillippo last week. De Fillippo said he and other members of the township's Landing Gateway and Streetscaping Committee hosted the visit by the transit system officials
“Right now the station is in absolutely deplorable condition,” DeFillippo said at last week's meeting of the Roxbury Mayor and Council. “Literally, it’s falling apart.”
The trackside shelter at the station site smells like urine and is covered with graffitti. DeFillippo said the structure is often used by the homeless.
"It's filthy and, clearly, it's not maintained," he said in a post-meeting interview. "The whole station certainly looks as if it's been neglected."
Additionally, the driveway leading down to the property is riddled with broken pavement, and lined with weeds.
The committee has long been trying to bring New Jersey Transit officials to Landing, hoping to show both the area's good side and the parts that need improvement. The committee points out there’s a “transformation taking place in Landing,” headlined by the Landing bridge renovation project, but there are also areas that could really use some assistance, DeFillippo said.
Two things happened at the train station meeting that hammered home the latter point. The first occurred even before the meeting began, said the councilman.
“The representatives of New Jersey Transit that met us at the station couldn’t find us at the station,” DeFillippo said. “One of the things that we’re gonna be asking for is new signage.There isn’t a single sign anywhere that says there’s a New Jersey Transit station there in Lake Hopatcong.”
The next incident happened shortly after the lost transit officials found their station.
“When we invited them to come down to the platform where people get on the train, one of the engineers suggested it might not be safe.” DeFillippo said. “But that’s where the passengers have to go to get on the train. So I think we made our point.”
The two rail lines that run through the Landing station connect passengers to Newark and New York City, usually for commuting purposes. Ideally, inspired by marketing campaigns created by New Jersey Transit and the town council, visitors will eventually ride the rail to Lake Hopatcong for its attractions and help revitalize local businesses and the economy, said DeFillippo.
A hold-up on that front, however, is that there is currently no train service on Saturdays or Sundays. That means any boost in visitors will have to come at first during weekdays. Even so, DeFillippo said the transit officials seemed “very willing to want to work with” the township.
Both sides understand not much funding is available to help, “but restoring service on the weekends may not necessarily cost a whole lot of money,” he said.
DeFillippo called the meeting “very productive” and said the committee would soon create a document prioritizing what it considers “the most pressing and do-able improvements.”