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Lakewood Township is a township in Ocean County, New Jersey, United States.
As of 2016 the town had a population of approximately 100,758 residents. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township had a total population of 92,843, representing an increase of 32,491 (+53.8%) from the 60,352 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 15,304 (+34.0%) from the 45,048 counted in the 1990 Census. The township ranked as the seventh-most-populous municipality in the state in 2010 after having been ranked 22nd in 2000. The sharp increase in population from 2000 to 2010 was led by increases in the township's Orthodox Jewish and Latino communities.
Lakewood is a hub of Orthodox Judaism, and is home to one of the largest yeshivas in the world, the 6,500-student Beth Medrash Govoha, which was founded by Rabbi Aharon Kotler. The large Orthodox population, which comprises more than half the township's population, wields considerable political clout in the township as a voting bloc.
The earliest documented European settlement of the present Lakewood area was by operators of sawmills, from about 1750 forward. One such sawmill – located at the east end of the present Lake Carasaljo – was known as Three Partners Mill from at least 1789 until at least 1814. From 1815 until 1818, in the same area, Jesse Richards had an iron-smelting operation known as Washington Furnace, using the local bog iron ore. The ironworks were revived in 1833 by Joseph W. Brick, who named the business Bergen Iron Works, which also became the name of the accompanying town. In 1865, the town was renamed Bricksburg in 1865, and in 1880, it was renamed Lakewood and became a fashionable winter resort.
Lakewood's developers thought that "Bricksburg" didn't capture their vision for the community, and the names "Brightwood" and "Lakewood" were proposed. After reaching out to area residents, "Lakewood" was chosen, and the United States Postal Service approved the name in March 1880. The name "Lakewood" was intended to focus on the location near lakes and pine forests.
Lakewood was incorporated as a township by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 23, 1892, from portions of Brick Township. Portions of Howell Township in Monmouth County were annexed to Lakewood Township in 1929.
Lakewood's three greatest hotels were the Laurel House (opened in 1880; closed in 1932), the Lakewood Hotel (opened January 1891, closed in 1925), and the Laurel-in-the-Pines (opened December 1891, burned down in 1967). Lakewood's promoters claimed that its winter temperature was usually about ten degrees warmer than that of New York City and were warmer than points located further south, but this claim is not substantiated by official records of the United States Weather Bureau. During the 1890s, Lakewood was a resort for the rich and famous, and The New York Times devoted a weekly column to the activities of Lakewood society. Grover Cleveland spent the winters of 1891-92 and 1892-93 in a cottage near the Lakewood Hotel, commuting to his business in New York City. Mark Twain also enjoyed vacationing in Lakewood. George Jay Gould I acquired an estate at Lakewood in 1896, which is now Georgian Court University. John D. Rockefeller bought a property in 1902 which later became Ocean County Park. Lakewood's hotel business remained strong in the 1920s and 1950s, but went into severe decline in the 1960s. In the 1960s, much of the woods and cranberry bogs in the township were replaced by large housing developments. Leisure Village, a condominium retirement development on the south side of Route 70, opened for sale in 1963.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the township has a total area of 24.982 square miles (64.703 km2), including 24.577 square miles (63.653 km2) of land and 0.405 square miles (1.050 km2) of water (1.62%). Lakewood is a fairly flat place, being as it is on the Coastal Plain; three-quarters of its area is between 20–80 feet above sea level, and its highest point is about 150 feet.
The North Branch of the Metedeconk River forms the northern boundary and part of the eastern boundary of the township, while the South Branch runs through the township. A southern portion of the township is drained by the north branch of Kettle Creek. The township has four man-made lakes; three of them - Lake Carasaljo, Manetta, and Shenandoah - are on the South Branch of the Metedeconk River, whereas the fourth - Lake Waddill - is on Kettle Creek.
Lakewood CDP (2010 Census population of 53,805), Leisure Village (4,400 as of 2010) and Leisure Village East (4,217 as of 2010) are unincorporated communities and census-designated places (CDPs) located within Lakewood Township.
Other unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the township include Greenville, Lake Carasaljo, Seven Stars and South Lakewood.
The township borders the municipalities of Brick Township, Jackson Township, and Toms River Township in Ocean County; and Howell Township in Monmouth County.
Portions of Lakewood Township are part of an urban enterprise zone, one of 27 zones in the state. In addition to other benefits to encourage employment within the zone, shoppers can take advantage of a reduced 3.3125% sales tax rate (versus the 6.625% rate charged statewide, effective January 1, 2018) at eligible merchants. Established in 1994, the township's Urban Enterprise Zone status expires in October 2025.
The Strand, a local theater established in 1922, was designed by architect Thomas W. Lamb.
FirstEnergy Park, home of the Lakewood BlueClaws, is a 6,588-seat stadium constructed at a cost of $22 million through funds raised from the township's Urban Enterprise Zone.
The Lakewood BlueClaws of the South Atlantic League, the Single-A minor league baseball affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, play at FirstEnergy Park. The BlueClaws have led the league in attendance every year since its formation in 2001 up until 2011, with more than 380,000 fans in the 2001 season, representing an average attendance of more than 6,200 fans per game.
Sister Mary Grace Burns Arboretum, on the campus of Georgian Court University.
The percentage of Jewish people in Lakewood is one of the highest for incorporated areas in the U.S., at an estimated 59%.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 92,843 people, 24,283 households, and 17,362 families residing in the township. The population density was 3,777.7 per square mile (1,458.6/km2). There were 26,337 housing units at an average density of 1,071.6 per square mile (413.7/km2). The racial makeup of the township was 84.33% (78,290) White, 6.35% (5,898) Black or African American, 0.30% (276) Native American, 0.84% (777) Asian, 0.02% (14) Pacific Islander, 6.68% (6,199) from other races, and 1.50% (1,389) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 17.30% (16,062) of the population.
There were 24,283 households out of which 43.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.5% were married couples living together, 9.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.5% were non-families. 24.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 16.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.73 and the average family size was 4.49.
In the township, the population was spread out with 41.8% under the age of 18, 10.3% from 18 to 24, 24.6% from 25 to 44, 11.1% from 45 to 64, and 12.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 23.9 years. For every 100 females there were 98.7 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 94.0 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $41,527 (with a margin of error of +/- $1,797) and the median family income was $45,420 (+/- $2,296). Males had a median income of $39,857 (+/- $4,206) versus $32,699 (+/- $2,365) for females. The per capita income for the township was $16,430 (+/- $565). About 21.9% of families and 26.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 36.0% of those under age 18 and 5.7% of those age 65 or over.
As of the 2000 United States Census there were 60,352 people, 19,876 households, and 13,356 families residing in the township. The population density was 2,431.8 people per square mile (938.8/km²). There were 21,214 housing units at an average density of 854.8 per square mile (330.0/km²). The racial makeup of the township was 78.77% White, 12.05% African American, 0.17% Native American, 1.39% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 4.61% from other races, and 2.98% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 14.80% of the population.
There were 19,876 households out of which 32.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.3% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.8% were non-families. 28.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 19.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.92 and the average family size was 3.64.
In the township the population was spread out with 31.8% under the age of 18, 10.1% from 18 to 24, 23.5% from 25 to 44, 15.7% from 45 to 64, and 18.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 91.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.5 males.
The median income for a household in the township was $35,634, and the median income for a family was $43,806. Males had a median income of $38,967 versus $26,645 for females. The per capita income for the township was $16,700. About 15.7% of families and 19.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 28.9% of those under age 18 and 7.7% of those age 65 or over.
Lakewood Township is governed under the township form of government. The five-member Township Committee is elected directly by the voters at-large in partisan elections to serve three-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with either one or two seats coming up for election each year as part of the November general election in a three-year cycle. At an annual reorganization meeting, the Township Committee selects one of its members to serve as Mayor and another as Deputy Mayor.
The Township Committee controls all legislative powers of the Township except for health matters, which are controlled by the Board of Health. In addition, the Committee appoints members to boards, commissions, and committees. Each member of the township committee serves as a liaison to different divisions, departments, and committees.
The mayor, elected from among members of the committee, presides at meetings and performs other duties as the Township Committee may prescribe. The mayor has the power to appoint subcommittees with the consent of the committee. When authorized, he or she may execute documents on behalf of the township, makes proclamations concerning holidays and events of interest, and exercises ceremonial power of the Township and other powers conferred upon him by law.
As of 2018, the members of the Lakewood Township Committee are Mayor Ray Coles (D, term on committee ends December 31, 2020; term as mayor ends 2019), Deputy mayor Menashe Miller (R, term on committee and as deputy mayor ends 2018), Albert Akerman (R, 2019), Michael J. D'Elia Sr. (R, 2020) and Meir Lichtenstein (D, 2018).
Miller also receives a salary from the New Jersey General Assembly where he works as a legislative aide. Coles serves as Treasurer of the Lakewood Municipal Utilities Authority.
Lakewood Township is served by the Lakewood Police Department (LPD), which provides police protection for the township. It has several specialized units: Traffic and Safety, School Resource Officers, Special Response Team (SWAT), Dive Team, and a Motorcycle Patrol and Bicycle Patrol unit in the spring and summer. The current Chief of Police is Greg Meyers.
Lakewood Township is served by the Lakewood Fire Department (LFD), a unified combination consisting of five volunteer fire companies; one fire police unit; and two career fire stations which provide fire protection for the township.
The fire department was founded in October 1888. The Board of Fire Commissioners was created in 1896. The first motorized equipment was purchased in 1915. The largest fire in township history occurred on April 20, 1940, when a forest fire destroyed over 50 structures and burned down most of the southern half of town. The largest loss of life caused by fire occurred on February 12, 1936 when the Victoria Mansion Hotel (valued at $100,000) located on the southeast corner of Lexington Avenue and Seventh Street, was destroyed in a fire and 16 people died. The largest structure fire in department history occurred on March 29, 1967, when the block-long Laurel in the Pines Hotel was leveled by a suspicious fire that also killed three people. The last fire hose was picked up a week later when the fire was finally declared out.
There are approximately 75 volunteer firefighters with increasing membership over the last 2 years.
The Chief of the Lakewood Fire Department is Mike D'Elia Jr.
Lakewood Township is served by three emergency medical services (EMS) entities, which include Lakewood EMS (LEMS), Lakewood First Aid & Emergency Squad (LFAS) and Hatzolah EMS. The squads are all independently operated, but work together to provide emergency medical services for the township. Lakewood First Aid & Emergency Squad and Hatzolah EMS are volunteer organizations, while Lakewood EMS is a career municipal service under the direction of EMS Chief Crystal Van de Zilver. In the event of a motor vehicle accident, Lakewood First Aid & Emergency Squad are the primary providers of vehicle extrication services for the township and Hatzolah EMS serves as backup.
The three organizations collectively have approximately 150 volunteer and paid EMTs. Hatzolah also has a paramedic unit by special arrangement with Monmouth Ocean Hospital Service Corporation (MONOC).
Lakewood Township is located in the 4th Congressional District, and is part of New Jersey's 30th state legislative district.
New Jersey's Fourth Congressional District is represented by Christopher Smith (R). New Jersey is represented in the United States Senate by Democrats Cory Booker (Newark, term ends 2021) and Bob Menendez (Paramus, 2019).
For the 2018–2019 session (Senate, General Assembly), the 30th Legislative District of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the State Senate by Robert Singer (R, Lakewood Township) and in the General Assembly by Sean T. Kean (R, Wall Township) and Ned Thomson (R, Wall Township). The Governor of New Jersey is Phil Murphy (D, Middletown Township). The Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey is Sheila Oliver (D, East Orange).
Ocean County is governed by a Board of Chosen Freeholders consisting of five members, elected on an at-large basis in partisan elections and serving staggered three-year terms of office, with either one or two seats coming up for election each year as part of the November general election. At an annual reorganization held in the beginning of January, the board chooses a Director and a Deputy Director from among its members. As of 2015, Ocean County's Freeholders (with party affiliation, term-end year, residence and department directorship listed in parentheses) are Freeholder Director John C. Bartlett, Jr. (R, term ends December 31, 2015, Pine Beach; Finance, Parks and Recreation), Freeholder Deputy Director Gerry P. Little (R, 2015, Surf City; Human Services), John P. Kelly (R, 2016, Eagleswood Township; Law and Public Safety), James F. Lacey (R, 2016, Brick Township; Transportation) and Joseph H. Vicari (R, 2017, Toms River; Senior Services and County Operations). Constitutional officers elected on a countywide basis are County Clerk Scott M. Colabella (R, 2015, Barnegat Light), Sheriff Michael Mastronardy (R, 2016; Toms River) and Surrogate Jeffrey Moran (R, 2018, Beachwood).
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 37,925 registered voters in Lakewood Township, of which 6,417 (16.9%) were registered as Democrats, 13,287 (35.0%) were registered as Republicans, and 18,202 (48.0%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 19 voters registered to other parties. Among the township's 2010 Census population, 40.8% (vs. 63.2% in Ocean County) were registered to vote, including 70.2% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 82.6% countywide).
The Vaad in Lakewood is an 11-member council of elders from the Orthodox community, which greatly influences the way the community will vote, often after interviewing political candidates.
In the 2016 presidential election, Republican Donald Trump received 74.4% of the vote (17,914 votes), ahead of Democrat Hillary Clinton with 24.2% (5,841 votes), and other candidates with 1.4% (333 votes). In the 2012 presidential election. Republican Mitt Romney received 72.9% of the vote (19,273 cast), ahead of Democrat Barack Obama with 26.7% (7,062 votes), and other candidates with 0.3% (87 votes), among the 26,590 ballots cast by the township's 41,233 registered voters (168 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 64.5%. In the 2008 presidential election, Republican John McCain received 69.1% of the vote (19,173 cast), ahead of Democrat Barack Obama with 29.7% (8,242 votes), and other candidates with 0.5% (144 votes), among the 27,750 ballots cast by the township's 39,640 registered voters, for a turnout of 70.0%. In the 2004 presidential election, Republican George W. Bush received 66.4% of the vote (16,045 ballots cast), outpolling Democrat John Kerry with 32.5% (7,852 votes) and other candidates with 0.4% (137 votes), among the 24,152 ballots cast by the township's 35,217 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 68.6.
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 82.4% of the vote (11,850 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 16.9% (2,427 votes), and other candidates with 0.7% (107 votes), among the 14,921 ballots cast by the township's 41,567 registered voters (537 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 35.9%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 54.9% of the vote (10,528 ballots cast), ahead of Democrat Jon Corzine with 30.8% (5,910 votes), Independent Chris Daggett with 2.6% (506 votes) and other candidates with 0.7% (142 votes), among the 19,171 ballots cast by the township's 37,928 registered voters, yielding a 50.5% turnout.
The Lakewood School District serves students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade, and is broken up into three different stages of schooling. As of the 2014-2015 school year, the district and its seven schools had an enrollment of 6,208 students and 452.4 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 13.7:1. Schools in the district (with 2014-15 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are Lakewood Early Childhood Center with 274 students in PreK, Spruce Street School with 599 students in Kindergarten, Ella G. Clarke School (641; 1-5), Clifton Avenue School (919; 1-5), Oak Street School (1,156; 1-5), Piner Elementary School (grades PreK-1; no enrollment data available), Lakewood Middle School with 1,147 students in grades 6-8 and Lakewood High School with an enrollment of 1,112 students in grades 9-12.
Georgian Court University is a private, Roman Catholic university located on the shores of Lake Carasaljo. Founded in 1908 by the Sisters of Mercy as a women's college in North Plainfield, New Jersey, the school moved to the former estate of George Jay Gould I in Lakewood in 1924. Women made up 88% of the student population in Fall 2006.
There are many yeshivas and Jewish day schools serving the Orthodox Jewish community, with the school district providing busing to 18,000 students enrolled at 74 yeshivas as of 2011, and 25,000 by 2016. Beth Medrash Govoha has an enrollment in excess of 5,000, making it one of the world's largest yeshivas.
The non-denominational Calvary Academy serves students in kindergarten through twelfth grade.
The Roman Catholic-affiliated Holy Family School served youth from pre-school through 8th grade under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Trenton. In 2014, the diocese announced that the school was closing at the end of the 2014-2015 school year, as fewer students were enrolling.
As of May 2010, the township had a total of 193.15 miles (310.84 km) of roadways; of which 135.26 miles (217.68 km) were maintained by the municipality, 43.28 miles (69.65 km) by Ocean County, 11.22 miles (18.06 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation, and 3.39 miles (5.46 km) by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.
Major county routes that pass through are CR 526, CR 528, CR 547 and CR 549. The state and U.S. routes that pass through are Route 70, Route 88 and Route 9. The Garden State Parkway passes through the eastern part of the municipality, connecting Toms River in the south to Brick in the north with one major interchange serving Lakewood at exit 89. Drivers can access Route 70 from exit 89, after exit 88 was permanently closed in November 2014.
The Lakewood Bus Terminal is a regional transit hub. NJ Transit provides bus service on the 137 and 139 routes to and from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City, to Philadelphia on the 317 route, to Newark on the 67 and to Atlantic City on the 559.
The Lakewood Shuttle is a bus with two routes: one in town, and one in Industrial Park.
Ocean Ride local service is provided on the OC3 Brick / Lakewood / Toms River and OC4 Lakewood - Brick Link routes.
Lakewood Airport is a public-use airport located 3 miles (4.8 km) southeast of the township's central business district. The airport is publicly owned.
The Monmouth Ocean Middlesex Line (MOM) is a passenger rail project proposed by NJ Transit Rail Operations (NJT) to serve the Central New Jersey counties of Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex which would serve Lakewood.
People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Lakewood Township include:
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