SOUTH ORANGE, NJ -- The plan to renovate and add art elements to the South Orange Train Station took a step forward after a meeting with NJ Transit officials.

According to Mark Packer, executive director of the South Orange Performing Arts Center and member of the South Orange Train Station Coalition, the meeting earlier this month went “very well.”

Attending the meeting were representatives from village government, SOPAC and the South Orange Village Center Alliance. They met with John C. Leon, senior director, government and community relations for NJ Transit, and about 14 of Mr. Leon’s staff, according to Packer.

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“There was a commitment for us to continue meeting with NJ Transit following the Super Bowl," Packer said. "They have asked us to go back and triage our priorities for the station."

Although there is no official start date for the project, the South Orange Train Station Coalition hopes to have a majority of the proposed projects and renovations completed before the 100th anniversary of the South Orange Train Station in 2016, Packer said.

The coalition presented a master plan to NJ Transit, which included a proposal for artwork for the walls and columns of the train trestle.

“We want to put out a (request for proposals) to local artists and have them design and adorn these columns with town mosaic or paint, and really make the arcade an outdoor museum," Packer said. "It will in effect become its own destination."

Packer said he hopes that the public, both adults and children, will volunteer to help with the process as well. “We want the public to participate in the creation of the art," he said."This is going to be a monumental artwork."  

Packer said the coalition is hoping to meet again February so members can begin to prioritize the different aspects of the project before their next meeting with NJ Transit.

“If the Village of South Orange is about excellence and NJ Transit embraces that as a value, then there is synergy between the two organizations and we can make the train station something really excellent,” he said.

The reporter is a student participating in hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts.