Update: This article was updated at 12:50 p.m. with reaction from FBAC members.
The Freehold Borough Arts Council (FBAC) mural completed two months ago has been painted over.
The property, 63 E. Main St., is the site of a proposed 7-Eleven. The application by the property owner, HRS Investments LLC, is currently before the Freehold Borough Planning Board. HRS Investments received approval by the Freehold Borough Code Enforcement Office in late December to reopen the site as a gas station.
The sections of the mural are removable and portions were taken down last week. The remainder of the mural was not removed prior to the building being painted gray on Friday, Jan. 6.
In an interview with Freehold Patch after sections of the mural were removed on Friday, Dec. 30, FBAC President Neal Girandola said the arts council's main priority was the preservation of the artwork.
"I did hear from [HRS Investments' Rakesh Kumar] that he has every intention of preserving the remaining artwork," he said. "This guy's a businessman. This is his property. We were just hoping for a little bit more control over the artwork."
Girandola said the FBAC had a contract with HRS Investments that indicated the arts council was to receive 30 days notice before sections of the mural were removed from the site.
Watching the mural being painted over on Friday, Girandola was taken back.
"We had no warning of this and we don't understand it," said Girandola. "I am devastated and frustrated, it is absolutely maddening. There was no reason to do this."
Girandola continued by saying, "I think he [HRS Investments' Rakesh Kumar] made a crucial mistake by doing this. What he is doing is graffiti, it's criminal."
Other FBAC members and passersby were also upset by the painting over of the mural.
Christine Gregory, FBAC member and a Freehold resident said, "I will never buy gas at this station and if it becomes a 7-Eleven I will refuse to give it my business."
According to Girandola, the mural took about six months to paint and was completed in October. It had only been up in the borough for two months.
A call to HRS Investments' attorney for comment was not immediately returned.
The FBAC is scheduled to meet with the property owner at the site at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 7, according to Girandola. He recommended any community members who wish to share any concerns about the painting over of the mural come to the meeting.
This is a developing storyline. Freehold Patch will have more information as it becomes available.