By JOANNE L. PAPAIANNI
The case of the copper panels removed from the top facade of Convention Hall and stolen from their boardwalk storage facility still confounds some concerned citizens.
At this week’s City Council Jerry Scarano, who owns property in the city, asked about the panels, as well as a copper ship that used to adorn the roof of the building, but has recently been removed.
“We don’t have such a good history with copper,” he said before asking, “When are we going to get our panels back?”
Carrie Turner, General Manager of Real Estate Services for Madison Marquette said last week, “We remain committed to replacing the panels, but they are a finishing element of a much larger repair project to the envelope of Convention Hall that is currently in the process of being scheduled.
“Thus, I am unable to tell you exactly when they will be back on the building.”
Madison Marquette owns Convention Hall.
Turner said in recent months that the condition of the building is fragile and officials are afraid the facade of the building would not be able to hold and sustain the heavy panels.
The 27 panels which lined the top perimeter of the building went missing in August of 2011 from the Sunset Avenue Pavilion where they had been taken for storage and safe keeping.
The fact that the panels had been stolen was not made public for several months when a city official started asking questions about them at a Technical Review Committee meeting.
It was then that Madison Marquette made the theft of the panels public. The company said the panels were removed and taken for storage and safe keeping to the vacant Sunset Avenue pavilion.
The 5.5 feet by 16 feet ornate panels, which were installed when the hall was built in 1929, were taken down to check the structural integrity of Convention Hall.
Architect Keith Johnson, who lives on Sixth Avenue and owns Urban Architecture, Inc., based in Brooklyn, said in a previous Coaster article, that he believes Madison Marquette should have sought permission and approval from the state and federal agencies that govern landmark buildings.
Convention Hall is on both the state and national Register of Historic Places.
Johnson also said he would have told them never to remove or disturb hermetically sealed decorative panels.
The 27 panels are about 450 pounds each, for a total weight of more than six tons. The estimated scrap metal value was at the time of the investigation was about $60,000.
Two investigations took place, by the Asbury Park Police Department and the state police, both of which investigated the theft twice but came up with no viable leads and closed the case. At a councl meeting two years ago Madison Marquette aid they were committed to replacing the panels.