Township Council Votes To Replace Hageman Roof With Synthetic Material


The Hageman House on South Middlebush Road.
Photo: The Meadows Foundation.

Despite a continued objection emailed from a member of the township’s historic preservation commission, the Township Council Nov. 10 voted to replace the Hageman House roof with a synthetic material.

Tom Gale, vice chairman of the Historic Preservation Advisory Commission, had argued in September that the roof should be replaced with natural slate.

He renewed that objection Nov. 10, via email.

The Hageman House and barns on South Middlebush Road were built in the early 1860s, and were lived in by members of the township’s early Dutch settler families.

The council had planned on voting on awarding the $73,000 roof replacement contract to Toms River-based Lighton Industries at the Sept. 29 meeting, but was persuaded by Gale to table the resolution and look into replacing the roof with natural slate.

Gale argued that the natural material is more fitting for an historic house and that while it might be  little more expansive than synthetic slate, it will last at least 100 years, as opposed to synthetic slate’s 20-year lifetime.

Township manager Robert Vornlocker told the council at the Nov. 10 meeting that five other contractors were contacted for bids for natural slate, but none responded. He said one of those contractors was recommended by Gale.

“It’s not easy to get a quote for a natural slate roof,” he said.

He said Lighton estimated the cost to replace the roof with natural slate at $137,275, with an additional; $15,000 to $20,000 for a structural soundness study to see if the structure could support a slate roof.

Vornlocker said the synthetic slate roof had been approved by the historic preservation commission, the Meadows Foundation – which maintains the township’s historic homes – and the State Historic Preservation Office.

During the course of the discussion, Gale, who had apparently been watching the meeting’s live broadcast, emailed Vornlocker and the council, saying that he objected to the last-minute inclusion of the resolution to award the contract because there was no opportunity for the public to comment on it.

Vornlocker said he just received the updated information on Nov. 9 and 10, and presented it to the council that night because he wanted to get the work started before winter.

Township Councilman James Vassanella (D-Ward 5) sided with Gale on the issue. Vassanella said that synthetic materials should not be used on historic homes.

Vassanella said a renovation project could use nothing but synthetic parts, “and then you end up with a replica” of an historic home.

“There are a lot of reasons why we should be taking a different look at this,” Vassanella said. “I don’t think we have to spend $20,000 to see if the building is strong enough” to hold the slate roof.

Vassanella cast the sole “no” vote for the synthetic roof.

The contract was awarded through the Middlesex Regional Education Services Commission’s Cooperative Purchasing Program.

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