• Sparta Station Status

  • Discussion related to New York, Susquehanna & Western operations past and present. Also includes some discussion related to Deleware Otsego owned and operated shortlines. Official web site can be found here: NYSW.COM.
Discussion related to New York, Susquehanna & Western operations past and present. Also includes some discussion related to Deleware Otsego owned and operated shortlines. Official web site can be found here: NYSW.COM.

Moderators: GOLDEN-ARM, NJ Vike

  by NJ Vike

From the 12/15/06 edition of the New Jersey Herald...

"The historic Sparta Railroad Station has been sitting unused for more than 70 years, and it may need to wait a few more months more. Though township officials have expressed a tepid interest in purchasing the four-acre Station Road property, a former Superfund site, they are frustrated by the lack of information coming from the federal government about the future auction.

"Despite repeated calls (to various government agencies), I do not have a date or a minimum bid price," Township Attorney Tom Ryan said at a recent council meeting. "All (funding options) are contingent on the feds moving on the auction."

Ryan said the property's assessed value was about $237,000, but the minimum bid in auction could be driven up by more than $1 million in tax liens accrued on the property by the federal and state government, an amount that continues to grow the longer the property is held.

"Unfortunately, that's kind of typical of bureaucracy," Mayor Manny Goldberg said in a conversation Thursday, expressing some concern that the longer the government holds the site, the higher the minimum bid price may be. "I don't think they would try to make back everything they are losing, but they are certainly going to try to get back as much as they can."

Ben Barry, a Superfund press officer, said it is tough for the Environmental Protection Agency to set a date right now.

"There are several departments involved in this and we don't know who will be leading the auction," Barry said, indicating the EPA does not commonly handle bids. "We will be able to better determine the auction situation after the new year."

The A.O. Polymer company, which used to own the site, abandoned the property 12 years ago after receiving several violation notices from the EPA. Through the Superfund clean-up program, the government organization treated polluted groundwater in the area and removed the property from its National Priority List in 2000.

The township's interest in the property came earlier this year when several railroad and historical organizations — including the Tri-State Railroad Historical Society and the Sparta Historical Society — requested the town consider purchasing the site so the groups could refurbish the 124-year-old station.

Local historian and author Bill Truran said he has been trying to find other people that could develop an interest for the site.

"Right now, the land is laying fallow," Truran said. "We (historical groups) want to preserve the station, but the town could use the rest of the area for soccer fields or basketball courts."

Truran's idea was endorsed by the Sparta Planning Board and passed on to the council.

"I think the council is willing to look positively on this," Goldberg said. 'We want to make sure it would be available to the public ... (but) the council has not reached any kind of decision yet."

However, if the federal government continues to "drag its feet" setting up the auction, Goldberg said, he may consider contacting district representatives in Congress to help expedite the process.

In the meantime, the council has expressed some interest in finding potential funding help. At the council meeting, Ryan suggested Green Acres or Historic Preservation funding may be available, though with only limited auction information, he could only speculate.

But, Ryan said, other groups may be eyeing the property, including at least one private party. He also indicated the New York, Susquehanna & Western Railroad, which still has freight running on those tracks, may consider taking down structures near the tracks that it deems hazardous. Town Manager Henry Underhill said the station was not likely in danger, but one of the old A.O. Polymer structures might be."
  by NJTRailfan
I remember cruising the Tri State Railway website a few times and noticed that one of their restoration projects involved the restoration of the Sparta Station. How far along are they? Do they still need donations and volunteers? I've e-mailed at the e-mail address their website gave me but received no responce. This was almost two weeks ago. I heard they wanted to turn the facility into a place for the historical society. Not sure if it was for the town or the Tri State Railway.

  by NJTRailfan
I hope it can be restored by either the Town of Sparta, Tri State or both. I'm sure they can get a grant to help preserve this station. Thanks for the pics.

  by Otto Vondrak
NJTRailfan wrote:I hope it can be restored by either the Town of Sparta, Tri State or both. I'm sure they can get a grant to help preserve this station.
Hoping won't get the job done, friend. How sure are you about this grant you speak of? You have to apply for and compete with other causes for grants. So what are your ideas?


  by cjvrr
Unfortunately if I remember correctly the site is embroiled in politics since it is part of a superfund site. I also believe the property owner let it go for taxes. The station is not in an area that is 'dirty' but it is part and parcel of a much larger tract that is dirty.

A few within the Tri State and Town of Sparta have worked to get the station area removed from the tract, but the wheels of Federal government work even slower than local government. I am not sure there is any day to day activity at this point, I hope that I am wrong.

Nothing can happen with grant applications, fund raisers, etc. until the ownership and EPA issue is resolved.

A quick search yielded this recent story;

http://www.njherald.com/secure_story/30 ... 888488.php

  by Otto Vondrak
Thanks for that update, I forgot the situation with Sparta and the Superfund site. So the current appraisal is about $230K. So you're looking at almost a half million dollars to purchase, clean up and renovate the station and surrounding area...
  by Otto Vondrak
"SPARTA — The fire that completely destroyed the 130-year-old Sparta Train Station Labor Day morning is still under investigation, police said. At 3:49 a.m., a motorist traveling north on Route 15 spotted the flames from the highway and notified police. Three minutes later, Sparta patrols arrived on the scene to find the vacant building on Station Road completely engulfed. Firefighters from the Sparta and Ogdensburg fire departments battled the blaze for about an hour and a half before finally clearing from the scene at 7:20 a.m. One firefighter from Ogdensburg suffered from heat exhaustion and was treated at the scene by the Ogdensburg First Aid Squad"

http://www.njherald.com/story/19445070/ ... ire-probed
  by Otto Vondrak
"The New York, Susquehanna and Western Railroad built Sparta Station in 1882. It served numerous dairy farms including Sparta's Ideal Creamery Company. Coal, ice and cement and Sparta's mail also arrived at the station for delivery to the residents of early Sparta. Before the Labor Day fire, Sparta Station was the last station left of the 15 built by New York, Susquehanna and Western Railroad in Sussex County, according to police. The building's water tank, which is still standing, is the only one left in the county and one of the few left in the state. "

http://www.njherald.com/story/19445070/ ... ire-probed
  by Steve F45
Such a shame. It looked like it was beeing cleaned up and restored from pics i saw on flickr.
  by NYS&W142Fan
Thanks for posting Otto. Sad to see another Susie Q piece of history disappear.
  by R36 Combine Coach
It was recently designated a landmark and was pending full restoration by a local historic organization. One other NYSW station is Sussex County, Ogdensburg, still remains.

Sparta Station, June 14, 2010. August 2011
  by NJTRailfan
Unfreakin believable!!!! this is why you cant have anything nice here because there is always somone along with their ilk in the shadows willing to ruin it for the rest of us. I hope Sparta Police and NJSP will investigate this to catch the bastard(s) invovled and then they get locked up for the max in Trenton or Rahway. NO DEALS FOR THIS!!! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!! So many NYSW fans and I beleive even Tri State were trying hard to have efforts organized to help restore the station. I hope other hisotric stations are on watch by local police and have ADT or whatever to help prevent this sort of this esp the restored ones that took years to rehab by dedicated volunteers.
  by R36 Combine Coach
Any evidence of foul play yet? Anderson Street and Upper Montclair caught fire, and the causes were believed to be accidential. If so, URHS and Tri-State could offer a reward for the arrest or conviction of person(s) responsible.
  by whippany
Apparently, it was not arson.

From the Daily Record - The investigation into the fire that destroyed the historic, 130-year-old Sparta Train Station has been determined to be “not suspicious.”
Investigators have determined that an electrical panel box located on the outside of the building was a contributing factor, according to Sparta Police Sgt. John-Paul Beebe.
The joint investigation is being conducted by Sparta Police Detective Sgt. John Schanstra and Detective Jason Garrigan of the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office Arson Unit.