Former Asbury Park City Historian Werner Baumgartner was reappointed to his old position on July 8 by City Manager Jack Kelly.
“I think Werner has a really good grasp on the history of Asbury Park and those things that were designed by (city founder James A.) Bradley and others for a reason. He is well-written and I think he has an unbridled honestly about local historic issues.
“Sometimes you just need to hear from someone who has no other interest than these pure beliefs. I enjoy his unbridled honestly,” he said.
The city manager is the sole person responsible for appointing someone to fill the position. Baumgartner’s term expires when another city historian is appointed to replace him.
Baumgartner said he appreciates the faith Kelly has in him in making the appointment.
“I appreciate his confidence in me and his understanding for the need of an official city historian to represent the city,” he said.
As far as his first actions, Baumgartner said he wants to step back and review the city’s attempts at historic preservation.
“I am going to review where the city is currently in terms of historical preservation processes,” he said.
The position of the city historian was created by the state legislature in 1979 and Baumgartner was first appointed around 1999. Former City Manager Terrance Weldon later wanted to abolish the position but never formally did. The position is voluntary.
“That basically left me a city historian in exile,” Baumgartner said.
Baumgartner is charged with carrying out an historical program, including, but not restricted to, collecting, preserving and making available materials relating to the history of Asbury Park, Kelly said.
In order to insure the preservations of these artifacts and materials, Baumgartner must report the items he has collected to the New Jersey State Archivist, the state Historical Commission and other county and local officials.
If Baumgartner loses the position, then he must turn over all of the items to his successor, Kelly said in a July 8 letter to Baumgartner.
Baumgartner may also assist a landmark commission, as well as the City Council, concerning the acquisition, administration, use and deposition of any landmark, or historic site.
Baumgartner has been active in Asbury Park, often speaking at City Council meetings on zoning and planning issues. Over the years his own home on Fifth Avenue has been a topic of controversy due to the numerous code violations. He was jailed for a brief time several years ago for unresolved code violations at his home.