WESTFIELD, NJ — Westfield residents took issue with the proposed demolition of a Victorian home at 403 Prospect Street at Tuesday night’s regular town council and council conference meetings.
The home was built circa 1860 and is in excellent condition, according to Sharon Stockwell, who lives in the neighborhood. She said the interior of the house was completely renovated eight years ago. She and other neighbors realized that the house would be demolished when a chain-link was placed around it on Friday.
“It would be a real shame to lose that house, and once it’s gone it’s gone,” Stockwell told TAP into Westfield.
She told the council that she believed that the home, which has a mansard roof, a matching twin house next to it and a detached two-car garage, would be replaced by a duplex.
“This type of structure does not go with the rest of the neighborhood,” said Stockwell.
Resident Debby Burslem told the council at its conference meeting that evening that there are more than 1,200 properties in Westfield that could potentially be considered “historic.”
“They’re getting picked off one-by-one,” said Burslem. She argued that historic homes are important to the fabric of the community and add value to the neighborhoods.
“I’m all for progress and everything, but there are some things you just can’t replace,” said Burslem.
Both Burlsem and Stockwell expressed a wish to see more done by the town to preserve Westfield’s historic structures.
The council approved the demolition of this and four other homes during the town council meeting. Members of the council explained that it is not within their legal authority to deny the demolition.
“I love old houses myself,” said Councilman Sam Della Fera. But, he said, “Nothing under the law prevents a property owner from tearing down a house.”
He encouraged residents to pursue historic designation for their neighborhoods, as residents on Walnut Street are currently doing, which could legally prevent historic homes from being demolished.