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Buildings at Parker Homestead Unsafe, Officials Say

Little Silver Mayor Suzanne S. Castleman calls it "a precarious situation"

When volunteers entered the cow barn at the historic Parker Homestead April 9 to clean it up they received an unwelcome surprise. The structure was in much worse shape than they anticipated, too unstable for people to risk remaining inside it, Little Silver Mayor Suzanne S. Castleman said at the Borough Council meeting Monday.

"There was a beam on a jack and the jack was bent over," Castleman said, relaying what volunteers told her about that Saturday visit. "In other words, it's a precarious situation."

So precarious that the volunteers immediately abandoned the cleanup, a preliminary step in the borough's efforts to restore the 11-acre property off Rumson Road, which dates back to 1667 and the borough's founding Parker family.

At least some of the buildings on the site need to be inspected by an engineer and shored up so people can enter and work on them, Castleman said.

In the meantime, the council decided Monday to order the Department of Public Works to place signs on the property warning the public of the possible danger.

"God forbid anybody gets hurt," the mayor said.

Councilman Jonathan H. Bitman, liason to the department, said he would contact employees Tuesday to get that done as soon as possible.

The council has instensified efforts this year to restore the property with an eye toward getting it included in the National Register of Historic Places. Such registry would help get grants to pay for renovation and restoration.

The council organized a presentation for the public last month on the project which included discussions by the mayor, historian Richard Veit of Monmouth University, the architects for the restoration, Farewell Mills Gatsch Architects of Princeton, and cultural planner Nancy Moses.

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