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Willingboro Township is a township in Burlington County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township's population was 31,629 reflecting a decline of 1,379 (-4.2%) from the 33,008 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn declined by 3,283 (-9.0%) from the 36,291 counted in the 1990 Census.
Abraham Levitt and Sons purchased and developed Willingboro land in the 1950s and 1960s as a planned community in their Levittown model. With residential development, the 1950 population of 852 rapidly climbed to 11,861 in 1960; and 43,386 in 1970. The community used the name "Levittown, New Jersey" in 1958, and "Levittown Township" from 1959 to 1963.
Willingboro was one of the original nine divisions in the organization of Burlington County within West Jersey, and was originally formed as the "Constabulary of Wellingborrow" on November 6, 1688. At the time, it included present day Delanco Township, New Jersey. The original name of Wellingborough was after the community in England, which was the hometown of Thomas Ollive, who led the original settlers into what would become Willingboro Township. Other spellings were used at different times.
After the establishment of the United States and the State of New Jersey, the community was formally incorporated as "Willingborough Township", one of New Jersey's initial group of 104 townships, on February 21, 1798, by the New Jersey Legislature when it enacted "An Act incorporating the Inhabitants of Townships, designating their Powers, and regulating their Meetings", P.L. 1798, p. 289. This makes Willingboro one of the oldest townships in the State.
Portions of the township were taken to form Beverly borough (March 5, 1850, now Beverly city) and Beverly Township (March 1, 1859, now known as Delanco Township).
In the 1950s and 1960s, Willingboro was the location for a massive residential development by Levitt & Sons. The town was to be Levitt & Sons' third and largest Levittown development, following similar projects in New York and Pennsylvania. Levitt acquired the great majority of the land in Willingboro; the historic community of Rancocas, in the southeast portion of the township, was annexed to Westampton Township to keep it from being bulldozed, as Levitt wished to keep the development within the boundaries of a single municipality. The first Levittown homes were sold in June 1958, at which time the community was already known as Levittown, New Jersey.
The town's name was changed from the original Willingboro to "Levittown Township" by a referendum of township residents held on November 3, 1959. Willingboro was less than 12 miles (19 km) from Levittown, Pennsylvania and this occasionally caused confusion. A referendum held on the issue on November 5, 1963, changed the name back to Willingboro. The name change was passed by a narrow margin of 3,123 to 3,003. In retaliation, Levitt refused to donate any more schools to the fast-growing community.
When homes for the new Levittown were first being sold in 1958, Levitt and Sons had a policy against sales to African Americans. W. R. James, an African-American officer in the Army's Criminal Investigation Division, was stationed at nearby Fort Dix and applied to purchase a Levittown home. On June 29, 1958, an agent of Levitt and Sons told him that the new Levittown development would be an all-white community. James filed suit against the company challenging their policy. A friend of his, who worked at the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights, said that it was illegal in New Jersey to discriminate in federally-subsidized housing. At the time, de facto racial segregation in housing existed in many areas in the United States. Levittown was receiving mortgage insurance from the Federal Housing Administration. But as of 1958, the law had not been tested.
James sued Levitt in a case that ultimately went to the New Jersey Supreme Court, which upheld lower court rulings in favor of James. James was not the first African American to move into Willingboro. Given James' success in his suit, Charles and Vera Williams purchased a house and moved into the community in 1960, the first African-American family in Willingboro. James eventually moved into Millbrook Park in 1960. He served as head of the local chapter of the NAACP and eventually became a minister. An elementary school in Willingboro was named in his honor.
Following the court case, Levitt developed a thorough integration program. The company set up an integration committee headed by Howard Lett, an African American. Lett created a five-point program, which included the announcement by community leaders of Levitt's plan to desegregate housing, and a thorough briefing program for Levitt employees, government officials, the police and the press. Lett recommended an attempt to discourage anti-integration activities known as "Operation Hothead". Lett created a Human Relations Council to oversee possible disputes in community. James served as a member of that committee. The committee tried to solve problems of juvenile delinquency in the township. It opposed a curfew passed by the Township Council in the early 1970s. The curfew was later dropped, but reintroduced later. One area that the committee oversaw was the practice of blockbusting.
The African-American population of Willingboro increased throughout the 1960s; by 1964 there were 50 African-American families. By 1970, African Americans represented about 11% of the population. During the early 1970s, several homeowners said they were approached by local real estate agents and told that their neighborhood was becoming increasingly African-American and home values could decline if they did not sell quickly; a practice known as blockbusting. While the Human Relations Council could not prove these claims, it made recommendations to help foster better relations between ethnic communities in the township and calm concerns.
The township in 1974 enacted an ordinance that prohibited the posting of "for sale" or "sold" signs on real estate. Proponents of the ordinance alleged the purpose was to maintain integration. Many other communities had enacted similar laws in reaction to the practice of blockbusting in the 1960s and 1970s. The Supreme Court in the 1977 case of Linmark Associates, Inc. v. Willingboro ruled that the ordinance violated the First Amendment protections for free speech, which applied to commercial needs.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Willingboro township had a total area of 8.150 square miles (21.108 km2), including 7.738 square miles (20.042 km2) of land and 0.412 square miles (1.066 km2) of water (5.05%).
The township borders the Burlington County municipalities of Edgewater Park Township, Burlington Township, Westampton Township, Mount Laurel Township, Moorestown Township, Delran Township, and Delanco Township.
Unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the township include Bortons Landing, Charleston and Cooperstown.
Willingboro is divided into several sections, each section's street names beginning with the same letter as the corresponding section name. For example, streets in Pennypacker Park all begin with the letter "P". This is the case with all parks, excluding Martin's Beach and certain streets in Rittenhouse Park. Some streets that predate Levittown retained their original names, such as Charleston Road.
Originally, each Park or section had its own swimming pool for residents' use. Residents' families would receive free swim tags after showing applicable IDs at each section's school or the community office. However, some swimming pools, such as Hawthorne Park, have been inactive for years. Free lessons and other events were focused on these "park" pools during the summer months. By the 1990s, only Pennypacker Park and Country Club Park had operating summer pools. Finally, Country Club Park has been denoted the "community pool" at this time.
A section without a name is located near Olympia Lakes. This is the only part of the town with the area code 856. The rest of Willingboro is in area code 609.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 31,629 people, 10,884 households, and 8,283 families residing in the township. The population density was 4,087.3 per square mile (1,578.1/km2). There were 11,442 housing units at an average density of 1,478.6 per square mile (570.9/km2). The racial makeup of the township was 17.31% (5,475) White, 72.74% (23,007) Black or African American, 0.37% (117) Native American, 2.01% (635) Asian, 0.03% (10) Pacific Islander, 3.12% (988) from other races, and 4.42% (1,397) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.65% (2,737) of the population.
There were 10,884 households out of which 27.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.3% were married couples living together, 21.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.9% were non-families. 20.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.90 and the average family size was 3.32.
In the township, the population was spread out with 23.5% under the age of 18, 9.0% from 18 to 24, 22.8% from 25 to 44, 28.7% from 45 to 64, and 15.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41.0 years. For every 100 females there were 85.5 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 81.2 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $66,479 (with a margin of error of +/- $4,323) and the median family income was $73,968 (+/- $2,888). Males had a median income of $48,323 (+/- $2,553) versus $40,313 (+/- $3,074) for females. The per capita income for the township was $25,989 (+/- $1,048). About 6.9% of families and 8.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.5% of those under age 18 and 3.8% of those age 65 or over.
As of the 2000 United States Census there were 33,008 people, 10,713 households, and 8,784 families residing in the township. The population density was 4,292.7 people per square mile (1,657.3/km²). There were 11,124 housing units at an average density of 1,446.7 per square mile (558.5/km²). The racial makeup of the township was 66.71% African American, 24.67% White, 0.30% Native American, 1.70% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 2.62% from other races, and 3.95% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.05% of the population.
There were 10,713 households out of which 33.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.1% were married couples living together, 18.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 18.0% were non-families. 15.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.07 and the average family size was 3.36.
In the township the population was spread out with 27.5% under the age of 18, 7.5% from 18 to 24, 26.1% from 25 to 44, 26.0% from 45 to 64, and 12.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 90.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.4 males.
The median income for a household in the township was $60,869, and the median income for a family was $64,338. Males had a median income of $39,963 versus $31,554 for females. The per capita income for the township was $21,799. About 3.5% of families and 5.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.3% of those under age 18 and 5.1% of those age 65 or over.
The Township of Willingboro is governed within the Faulkner Act, formally known as the Optional Municipal Charter Law, under the Council-Manager form of government (Plan E), enacted by direct petition and implemented as of January 1, 1962. The current Council-Manager form of government was adopted by referendum in November 1960 based on the recommendations of a Charter Study Commission. The elections for the first council to operate under the new Council-Manager form of government took place in November 1961, with the new council taking office as of January 1, 1962, under the new form. The five-member Township Council is elected in partisan elections to serve four-year terms in office on a staggered basis, with two or three seats coming up for election as part of the November general election during odd-numbered years. At a reorganization held during the first week of January after each election, the council selects a Mayor and Deputy Mayor from among its members.
As of 2017, the members of the Willingboro Township Council are Mayor Davis Holley (D, term on council ends December 31, 2019; term as mayor ends 2017), Deputy Mayor Martin Nock (D, term on council ends 2019; term as deputy mayor ends 2017), Nathaniel Anderson (D, 2017), Jacqueline Jennings (D, 2019) and Rebecca Perrone (D, 2019; appointed to serve an unexpired term).
In July 2017, the council selected Rebecca Perone from a list of three candidates nominated by the Democratic municipal committee to fill the seat that had been held by Christopher "Chris" Walker expiring in December 2019 until he resigned from his post as mayor in June 2017.
The Township Council appointed Chris Walker in October 2013 to fill the vacant seat of Ken Gordon, after a New Jersey Superior Court judge ruled that Gordon's seat was vacant based on his having missed a series of council meetings. Eddie Campbell was named to fill Gordon's former position as deputy mayor. Darvis Holley was appointed in April 2014 to fill the vacant seat of Jim Ayrer, who had resigned after serving on the council for 34 years.
Willingboro Township is located in the 3rd Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 7th state legislative district.
New Jersey's 3rd Congressional District is represented by Tom MacArthur (R, Toms River). 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 7th Legislative District of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the State Senate by Troy Singleton (D, Palmyra) and in the General Assembly by Herb Conaway (D, Moorestown) and Carol A. Murphy (D, Mount Laurel). The Governor of New Jersey is Phil Murphy (D, Middletown Township). The Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey is Sheila Oliver (D, East Orange).
Burlington County is governed by a Board of chosen freeholders, whose five members are elected at-large in partisan elections to three-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with either one or two seats coming up for election each year; at an annual reorganization meeting, the board selects a director and deputy director from among its members. As of 2017, Burlington County's Freeholders are Director Bruce Garganio (R, Florence Township, term as freeholder and as director ends December 31, 2017), Deputy Director Kate Gibbs (R, Lumberton Township, term as freeholder ends 2018; term as deputy director ends 2017), Linda Hughes (R, Evesham Township, 2017), Ryan Peters (R, Hainesport Township, 2018) and Latham Tiver (R, Southampton Township, 2019) Burlington County's Constitutional Officers are County Clerk Tim Tyler (R, Fieldsboro, 2018), Sheriff Jean E. Stanfield (R, Westampton, 2019) and Surrogate Mary Ann O'Brien (R, Medford, 2021)
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 20,713 registered voters in Willingboro Township, of which 12,117 (58.5% vs. 33.3% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 1,268 (6.1% vs. 23.9%) were registered as Republicans and 7,322 (35.3% vs. 42.8%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 6 voters registered to other parties. Among the township's 2010 Census population, 65.5% (vs. 61.7% in Burlington County) were registered to vote, including 85.7% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 80.3% countywide).
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 15,635 votes here (91.4% vs. 58.1% countywide), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 1,300 votes (7.6% vs. 40.2%) and other candidates with 63 votes (0.4% vs. 1.0%), among the 17,101 ballots cast by the township's 22,031 registered voters, for a turnout of 77.6% (vs. 74.5% in Burlington County). In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 16,104 votes here (90.0% vs. 58.4% countywide), ahead of Republican John McCain with 1,616 votes (9.0% vs. 39.9%) and other candidates with 75 votes (0.4% vs. 1.0%), among the 17,899 ballots cast by the township's 21,755 registered voters, for a turnout of 82.3% (vs. 80.0% in Burlington County). In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 12,226 votes here (81.1% vs. 52.9% countywide), ahead of Republican George W. Bush with 2,701 votes (17.9% vs. 46.0%) and other candidates with 85 votes (0.6% vs. 0.8%), among the 15,067 ballots cast by the township's 20,197 registered voters, for a turnout of 74.6% (vs. 78.8% in the whole county).
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Democrat Barbara Buono received 6,513 ballots cast (70.6% vs. 35.8% countywide), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 2,453 votes (26.6% vs. 61.4%) and other candidates with 40 votes (0.4% vs. 1.2%), among the 9,227 ballots cast by the township's 21,474 registered voters, yielding a 43.0% turnout (vs. 44.5% in the county). In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 8,235 ballots cast (83.7% vs. 44.5% countywide), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 1,296 votes (13.2% vs. 47.7%), Independent Chris Daggett with 169 votes (1.7% vs. 4.8%) and other candidates with 64 votes (0.7% vs. 1.2%), among the 9,837 ballots cast by the township's 21,588 registered voters, yielding a 45.6% turnout (vs. 44.9% in the county).
The Willingboro Township Public Schools serves students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. As of the 2014-15 school year, the district and its seven schools had an enrollment of 4,567 students and 283.5 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 16.1:1. Schools in the district (with 2014-15 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are Garfield East Elementary School (398 students; in grades PreK-5), Hawthorne Elementary School (421; PreK-5), W.R. James Sr. Elementary School (464; PreK-5), J.C. Stuart Elementary School (446; PreK-5), Twin Hills Elementary School (386; PreK-5), Memorial Middle School for grades 6, 7, and 8 (814), Willingboro High School for grades 9-12 (818) and Willingboro Alternative Education Program at Levitt serves students in grades 6-12.
During the early development of the township, all high school students attended Levittown High School for grades 9-12 (LHS was renamed "Levitt Jr. High School" when the new high school - John F. Kennedy - was opened in 1964). It was the only junior high school, grades 7 through 9, until Memorial Junior High School opened in 1968. The substantial student population at JFK HS required that the school go to split sessions and only was able to house grades 10–12, with the freshmen classes divided between Memorial and Levitt junior high schools. In 1975, Willingboro HS was opened and became the "sister" school, located only about two miles apart - both on JFK Way. This is the way the township was until JFK HS became a middle school in 1990, leaving Willingboro as the only high school. By this time, the township population fell and Levitt Junior High School was closed to become township offices and storage. Memorial Junior High School would remain open for college classes for Burlington County College. Kennedy Middle School eventually closed and became Kennedy Center, a community center for the performing arts, an additional gym for events, and classrooms for college classes.
The S.W. Bookbinder, J.A. McGinley and Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary Schools were closed at the end of the 2005-06 school year as part of an effort to save about $3.6 million, through the reduction of as many as 100 staff members and class sizes increased as large as 27 at the five remaining elementary schools. The cuts were needed to fill a two-year budget deficit of nearly $10 million.
Students from Willingboro Township, and from all of Burlington County, are eligible to attend the Burlington County Institute of Technology, a countywide public school district that serves the vocational and technical education needs of students at the high school and post-secondary level at its campuses in Medford and Westampton Township.
The Willingboro Public Library (WPL) is the municipal public library for the community. It first opened in 1960 and operates independently from the Burlington County Library System. Before 2003, the library was housed in the township's municipal building on Salem Road. The current library building is 42,000 square feet (3,900 m2). and is an anchor for the new Willingboro Town Center on Route 130.
As of May 2010, the township had a total of 122.11 miles (196.52 km) of roadways, of which 109.02 miles (175.45 km) were maintained by the municipality, 11.53 miles (18.56 km) by Burlington County and 1.56 miles (2.51 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
U.S. Route 130 straddles the township's borders with Delanco Township and Edgewater Park Township.
NJ Transit provides bus service on 409 / 417 / 418 routes between Trenton and Philadelphia.
BurLink bus service is offered on the B1 route (between Beverly and Pemberton) and on the B2 route (between Beverly and Westampton Township).
Academy Bus provides service from Willingboro and at the park-and-ride facility near Exit 5 of the New Jersey Turnpike in Westampton to the Port Authority Bus Terminal and other street service in Midtown Manhattan and to both Jersey City and the Wall Street area in Lower Manhattan.
People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Willingboro Township include:
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