Raising the roof over Little Silver project

With no advance notice to the local residents, construction of a new roof over the existing one of the Little Silver Woman’s Club began on Jan. 22.

The residents learned soon after the construction began that the roof should have been built at a height of six feet above the old. The new roof, however, ended up being built 12 feet above the old, at a total height of 34 feet. This was due to numerous errors by the borough planning board and borough engineer.

The Woman’s Club quickly became know as the Little Silver Chalet or The Red Roof Inn due to the oversized roof that was inappropriate for the residential area, consisting primarily of 19th and early 20th century homes.

In the March 2007 Little Silver newsletter, Mayor Suzanne Castleman recognized the controversy surrounding the construction and stated: “While there is no law requiring capital improvements of the borough to be referred to the planning board and have immediate property owners notified, I believe in the future the borough will make every effort to follow small-town tradition of attempting to avoid misunderstandings and controversy by notifying immediate neighbors of any capital projects and seek suggestions and inputs prior to construction.”

Having said that, the borough, after continued complaints by the residents in January and February, and the mayor’s earlier verbal promise to keep residents informed of future borough improvements to the Woman’s Club, proceeded with adding three roof dormers and a portico over the main entrance without, again, seeking input and suggestions from the local residents.

Following rejection by the residents of a “Proposed Dormer” solution on Jan. 29 by the borough (simply added to the already massive structure) and after a resident solution had been vetted by both parties, an announcement was made on Feb. 3 by the Borough Attorney John Bennett that the borough rejected the resident offer because they didn’t feel it was aesthetically pleasing, and would proceed with the installation of dormers and landscaping to lower the impact of the new roof.

Since that date, no approved “Dormer As-Built” drawing was ever presented to the residents for their suggestions or input prior to the start of the new work. In fact, the required Building Code requirement to have a new dormer/portico engineering drawing and revised permit approved by the Red Bank Building Department was never obtained.

The borough simply proceeded with the work on about March 1, and it was not until a resident discussed this fact with the Red Bank Building Office that they became aware of the new construction. Once again, the borough made no attempt to notify immediate neighbors or other agencies of any capital projects nor seek suggestions, input or approval prior to construction.

The arrogance of the Little Silver mayor and Borough Council is appalling. Numerous calls to the mayor and several council members, asking what is going on in Little Silver (in reference to the Woman’s Club) are being responded to by saying “We are sorry, we made a mistake.”

Had work been stopped on day one of construction when the mayor was notified that a problem existed, this eyesore could have been rectified at a cost less than that which is now being expended to add dormers, a portico and landscaping.

The mayor and the borough council believe they don’t need to be held accountable to the borough residents because a state law excludes them from having to keep them informed of capital improvements on borough property, which, by the way, belongs to the borough residents, not the mayor and the borough council.

When the Woman’s Club was deeded to the borough in May 2002, Mayor Castleman stated over and over that they, the administration, wanted to be good neighbors. There has been nothing “good neighborly” in the actions of the mayor and the Little Silver Borough Council.

Bob Oswandel

Little Silver