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PHOTOS: Freehold Mural Painted Over (Update)

The Freehold Borough Arts Council mural at 63 E. Main St. has been painted gray.

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 , 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 .

The sections of the mural are removable and portions were . 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.

Progress January 08, 2012 at 09:00 PM
A shame indeed! A business owner wants to bring a long-time eyesore back to life. He has a vision to re-energize a dilapidated property into a thriving, job-producing, local economy-boosting business. He ALLOWED a group of citizens to "beautify" his property while waiting for the wheels of our local government to turn. HE was slapped in the face by the town! What is he supposed to do? Keep allowing the local citizens and government to dictate what he SHOULD do with his business? We see how well that has worked over the years. His gas station, the place next to Cafe 360, the old Silvert's building, the old Freehold High School property, etc. Freehold has stated its anti-business stance loud and clear, "If you are a GREEDY business owner who only worries about making a living, creating jobs, and re-vitalizing blighted properties, FREEHOLD IS NOT FOR YOU!" If the murals meant that much to you, I have a suggestion. Contact the FBAC and volunteer YOUR OWN HOUSE! A town full of mural covered houses! But watch out! If someday you paint over it, the angry mob will be on its way! This man is a business owner. He is not "greedy". For some to suggest this is the real travesty. Maybe the town should shut down ALL of the GREEDY business owners. Then we could board every business up and the FBAC could have the entire Borough as their canvas!
Kathy Mulholland January 09, 2012 at 01:19 AM
Progress (if that's really your name :) ), I generally agree with your concepts. If fact, if you look at my post above, I've summarized my views. And I wouldn't try to demonize or offer hearsay to speculate on Mr. Kumar's business practices. However, he certainly knew his actions in destroying the murals were in bad faith. The murals (or at least substantial elements of it) SHOULD have been placed on removable panels; that's what I understood was the original plan. Without the removal panels, the artwork's days were numbered anyway. There's no way a franchise operation (gas station or anything else) would tolerate the visual impact of the murals; a mom&pop operation might, but such a business would not likely succeed there. But this sneak-attack approach, perhaps (depending on if there were any contractual obligations to FBAC) within his rights, isn't earning him any good-will in Freehold. It's a shame the art wasn't on removable panels that were owned by FBAC, and granted host & display license by Kumar.
Richard Berger January 09, 2012 at 03:13 AM
@Progress. The owner had a contract with FBAC, which allowed for the mural and stipulated a 30 day period in which the FBAC would have an opportunity to remove the mural (it was intentional painted on removeable boards for this purpose.) Furthermore, I believe the property owner was beneficiary of a tax deduction because he allowed his property to be used by a non profit organization. So for the months that the mural was there, and worked on, it is also a financial plus for Mr. Kumar. It was a win/win. Now the FBAC was very much in favor of working with him in whatever way possible, if he would like to conitue using the mural, or if he thought it best, the FBAC would again remove the panels. The issue here is that he broke his contract with FBAC by not only allowing them to remove the panels (which his lawyer even states in the APP article), but also by destroying the property which he allowed the FBAC to put on his property for his tax deduction. One last point, the FBAC is not in anyway a government organization and is not sponsered financially, legally or by any other means by Freehold Borough. It is non political. It is a non profit organization comprised of residents. So whatever the government does regarding greedy or non greedy business owners should not be taked out on the organization, its property, or as a statement to the borough's residents who support the group.
Jeanine January 01, 2013 at 03:24 PM
just to go on record i have not and will not get gas there no matter what the price. they made it ugly gray and with no meaning. i hope they leave for this 2013 if they have not planned to already. i try to pretend its not even there.
Carol January 01, 2013 at 03:31 PM
Yesterday, Dec 31st, 2012, I rode by that gas station. There was 1 car getting gas. Does anyone know how well ( or not ) that station is doing? There isn't a day I ride by and don't see those murals in my mind. Personally, I don't believe there is a person in Freehold who buys gas there, but I could be wrong. I know I won't!

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