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Lacey Township, New Jersey
Township
Township of Lacey
Lacey Schoolhouse Museum
Lacey Schoolhouse Museum
Map of Lacey Township in Ocean County. Inset: Location of Ocean County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Map of Lacey Township in Ocean County. Inset: Location of Ocean County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Census Bureau map of Lacey Township, New Jersey
Census Bureau map of Lacey Township, New Jersey
Coordinates: 39°51′19″N 74°16′02″W / 39.855153°N 74.267152°W / 39.855153; -74.267152Coordinates: 39°51′19″N 74°16′02″W / 39.855153°N 74.267152°W / 39.855153; -74.267152
Country  United States
state  New Jersey
County Ocean
Incorporated March 23, 1871
Named for John Lacey
Government
 • Type Township
 • Body Township Committee
Area
 • Total 99.81 sq mi (258.49 km2)
 • Land 83.25 sq mi (215.62 km2)
 • Water 16.55 sq mi (42.87 km2)  16.58%
Area rank 5th of 565 in state
2nd of 33 in county
Elevation
72 ft (22 m)
Population
 • Total 27,644
 • Estimate 
(2019)
29,295
 • Rank 83rd of 566 in state
7th of 33 in county
 • Density 332.0/sq mi (128.2/km2)
 • Density rank 470th of 566 in state
31st of 33 in county
Time zone UTC−05:00 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−04:00 (Eastern (EDT))
ZIP Codes
08731 - Forked River
08734 - Lanoka Harbor
Area code(s) 609 exchanges: 242, 693, 971
FIPS code 3402937380
GNIS feature ID 0882072

Lacey Township is a township in Ocean County, New Jersey and is considered part of the Jersey Shore and South Jersey regions. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township's population was 27,644, reflecting an increase of 2,298 (+9.1%) from the 25,346 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 3,205 (+14.5%) from the 22,141 counted in the 1990 Census. The 2010 population was the highest recorded in any decennial census. It was named for Continental Army General John Lacey.

Lacey Township was incorporated as a township by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 23, 1871, from portions of Dover Township (now known as Toms River Township) and Union Township (now Barnegat Township). Portions of the township were taken on June 23, 1933, to form the borough of Island Beach (which is now Island Beach State Park, part of Berkeley Township). The township was named for Revolutionary War brigadier general John Lacey, who developed Ferrago Forge in 1809.

The Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station is located in the southern part of the township. The single-unit 636 MWe boiling water reactor power plant adjoins the Oyster Creek and is owned and operated by Exelon Corporation. It produced 9% of the state's electricity and is the nation's oldest operating nuclear power plant, having first been brought online on December 1, 1969, and is licensed to operate until April 9, 2029. In 2010, Exelon announced that it would close the facility in 2019 as part of an agreement with the State of New Jersey under which the plant would be allowed to operate without cooling towers. The plant, which had contributed a third of the township's budget through taxes, was closed in September 2018, after which a decommissioning process estimated to take eight years and cost $1.4 billion was to be undertaken.

Murray Grove is a Unitarian-Universalist retreat and conference center in Lanoka Harbor, traditionally considered the site where Universalism in America began.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough had a total area of 98.530 square miles (255.191 km2), including 83.256 square miles (215.631 km2) of land and 15.274 square miles (39.560 km2) of water (15.50%).

Forked River (with a 2010 Census population of 5,244) is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) located within Lacey Township. Other unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the township include Aserdaten, Bamber Lake, Barnegat Pines, Batuber, Cedar Creek, Cedar Crest, Deer Head Lake, Good Luck, Lake Barnegat, Lanoka Harbor, Osteam, Red Oak Grove, Union Clay Works and Webbs Mill. The township's fire stations are named after the various areas of Lacey Township.

The township borders the Ocean County municipalities of Barnegat Township, Berkeley Township, Manchester Township an Ocean Township, as well as Woodland Township in Burlington County.

The north-south track of the Garden State Parkway serves as an informal use divider under the 1979 Pinelands Act and the subsequent Comprehensive Management Plan. To the east of the Parkway are more than 95% of Lacey's residential dwellings, located in the unincorporated areas of Lanoka Harbor and Forked River. To the Parkway's west is a mostly undisturbed pine and cedar forest, part of New Jersey's vast Pine Barrens. The forest is interspersed with a scattered few farms, houses and ranches, the tiny community of Bamber Lakes and open pit gravel quarries - all of which predate passage of the Pinelands Act or were developed under its tight zoning rules. The conditions of grandfathering vary - the mines' exceptions are to expire upon the deaths of their owners whereas the farms' exceptions are indefinite. Development west of the parkway, covering two-thirds of the township's area, is strictly controlled by the New Jersey Pinelands Commission.

Many Ocean County residents commonly refer to all of Lacey Township as Forked River with the first word pronounced with two syllables (FOR-kid or FORK-id). Pronouncing the first word with one syllable is a sign of a non-native.

In a 2015 NJ.com poll with 91,000 respondents, Lacey Township was voted as part of South Jersey. According to the poll results, Lacey Township is South Jersey's northern-most Jersey Shore community.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 814
1890 711 −12.7%
1900 718 1.0%
1910 602 −16.2%
1920 504 −16.3%
1930 692 37.3%
1940 752 8.7%
1950 966 28.5%
1960 1,940 100.8%
1970 4,616 137.9%
1980 14,161 206.8%
1990 22,141 56.4%
2000 25,346 14.5%
2010 27,644 9.1%
2019 (est.) 29,295 6.0%
Population sources:1880-2000
1880-1920 1880-1890
1890-1910 1910-1930
1930-1990 2000 2010
* = Lost territory in previous decade.

Census 2010

As of the census of 2010, there were 27,644 people, 10,183 households, and 7,607 families residing in the township. The population density was 332.0 per square mile (128.2/km2). There were 11,573 housing units at an average density of 139.0 per square mile (53.7/km2)*. The racial makeup of the township was 96.15% (26,581) White, 0.60% (167) Black or African American, 0.14% (38) Native American, 0.80% (222) Asian, 0.02% (6) Pacific Islander, 1.14% (316) from other races, and 1.14% (314) from two or more races. [[Hispanic (U.S. Census)|Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.74% (1,310) of the population.

There were 10,183 households out of which 31.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.0% were married couples living together, 10.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.3% were non-families. 20.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.71 and the average family size was 3.13.

In the township, the population was spread out with 23.1% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 24.2% from 25 to 44, 29.8% from 45 to 64, and 14.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41.3 years. For every 100 females there were 96.6 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and old there were 93.5 males.

The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $72,835 (with a margin of error of ± $3,271) and the median family income was $84,031 (± $6,930). Males had a median income of $56,748 (± $3,051) versus $40,360 (± $3,340) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $31,552 (± $1,524). About 2.2% of families and 3.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.4% of those under age 18 and 4.6% of those age 65 or over.

Census 2000

As of the 2000 United States Census there were 25,346 people, 9,336 households, and 7,244 families residing in the township. The population density was 301.7 people per square mile (116.5/km2). There were 10,580 housing units at an average density of 126.0 per square mile (48.6/km2). The racial makeup of the township was 97.85% White, 0.36% African American, 0.15% Native American, 0.55% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.41% from other races, and 0.68% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.15% of the population.

There were 9,336 households, out of which 35.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 64.5% were married couples living together, 9.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.4% were non-families. 18.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.71 and the average family size was 3.08.

In the township the population was spread out, with 25.6% under the age of 18, 6.5% from 18 to 24, 28.2% from 25 to 44, 24.5% from 45 to 64, and 15.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.4 males.

The median income for a household in the township was $55,938, and the median income for a family was $61,298. Males had a median income of $47,406 versus $30,088 for females. The per capita income for the township was $23,136. About 3.7% of families and 4.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.1% of those under age 18 and 4.5% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture

The Old Schoolhouse Museum is a small old school building that was built in the mid-19th century as the first school in Forked River, and was used as a school until 1954.

The township had an annual Night of Lights on the Forked River, which was a boat parade at night in August. Owners dressed up their boats with lights and sailed down the river at night to the Captain's Inn. This had been changed to Rock the River after the original family that supported the event withdrew from involvement. It is now sponsored by local business and organizations and known as the Lacey Lights Boat Parade.

Parks and recreation

Popcorn Park Zoo is a small 7-acre (28,000 m2) zoo that hosts a wide range of abused and exploited animals and features big cats, monkeys and black bears among the 200 animals on the site. The zoo was established in 1977 at a facility covering 7 acres (2.8 ha)

The Relay for Life had been held annually at Gille Park to raise money towards cancer research. However, in 2010, the Lacey Township Committee did not allow the walk to be held at Gille, and it was moved to Veteran's Park in Bayville.

Much of the nearly 8,500-acre (3,400 ha) Double Trouble State Park is located within the township, but its main point of access is in neighboring Berkeley Township. Robert J. Miller Air Park, also known as the Ocean County Airport, is a county-owned public-use airport partially located within Lacey Township, but also with its main point of access is located in Berkeley.

Township parks located within Lacey, include Clune, Gille, Hebrew and Huffy Wallis parks. The township is also home a number of marinas, including the Forked River State Marina, which offers 125 berths.

Tices shoal, an area located on the bay side of Island Beach State Park, is located within the township. It is a popular summer destination for boaters because of its shallow waters and proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. Island Beach State Park, as well as the Barnegat Inlet, are easily accessible from the township via boat.

Transportation

Roads and highways

As of May 2010, the township had a total of 194.40 miles (312.86 km) of roadways, of which 155.81 miles (250.75 km) were maintained by the municipality, 28.45 miles (45.79 km) by Ocean County, 4.45 miles (7.16 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation and 5.69 miles (9.16 km) by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.

The Garden State Parkway passes through the township, connecting Ocean Township in the south to Berkeley Township in the north. The Forked River Service Area is located at milepost 76 on the Parkway and Interchange 74 is signed for access to Forked River and Waretown. U.S. Route 9 also traverses the township in the eastern part. County Route 539 passes through in the western area but without any intersections to other roads in the municipality.

Public transportation

NJ Transit provides bus service between the township and Atlantic City on the 559 bus route.

Academy Bus offers Parkway Express routes from the Forked River Service Area to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan or to Wall Street in Lower Manhattan. Ocean Ride local service is provided on the OC5 Lacey route.

There is no rail service in the township. In the late nineteenth and early-to-mid twentieth centuries, the township was served by the Tuckerton Railroad, Toms River Railroad, and the Central Railroad of New Jersey (CNJ). The CNJ's former roadbed, running parallel to Route 9, has been partially converted to the Barnegat Branch Trail, a rail trail. The Tuckerton Railroad's former roadbed runs parallel to Lacey Road, ending in nearby Whiting. Today, the closest train stations are in Bay Head, with service on the North Jersey Coast Line toward New York City, and Absecon, with service on the Atlantic City Line toward Atlantic City and Philadelphia.

Surrounding communities

Economy

Lacey Township is home to many businesses, the largest employer has been the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station. The facility, which closed in 2018, generated $70 million in wages in 2010 for its 700 employees, making it one of the largest employers in the county.

In the early to late 2000s, Lacey experienced rapid growth in recent years with the addition of many new developments and new "big-box" stores being built around the township, including the opening of Home Depot, Kohl's, and Walmart stores. Previously, township residents had to travel to Stafford Township (Manahawkin) or Toms River to shop at these stores.

Recent local controversies have surrounded development and land use. In particular, a proposal to build a road on an old railroad right of way behind the ShopRite has been a major issue in the community. Other issues involve the lack of water resources to sustain the Home Depot (which opened in October 2007) and the 142,000-square-foot (13,200 m2) Walmart that opened in October 2009.

Education

The Lacey Township School District serves students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. As of the 2018–19 school year, the district, comprised of six schools, had an enrollment of 4,026 students and 332.2 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 12.1:1. Schools in the district (with 2018–19 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are Cedar Creek Elementary School with 499 students in grades K-4, Forked River Elementary School with 391 students in grades K-4, Lanoka Harbor Elementary School with 466 students in grades K-4, Mill Pond Elementary School with 766 students in grades 5–6, Lacey Township Middle School with 679 students in grades 7-8 and Lacey Township High School with 1,201 students in grades 9-12.

St. Mary Academy in Manahawkin, a K-8 school of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Trenton, is in the area. From 1997, until 2019 it operated as All Saints Regional Catholic School and was collectively managed by five churches, with one being St. Pius X Church, in the township and adjacent to the Forked River CDP. In 2019 St. Mary Church in Barnegat took entire control of the school, which remained on the same Manahawkin campus, and changed its name. The other churches no longer operate the school but still may send students there.

Notable people

People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Lacey Township include:

  • Christopher J. Connors (born 1956), represents the 9th Legislative District in the New Jersey Senate.
  • Tom DeBlass (born 1982), mixed martial artist and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner.
  • Melissa Drexler (born 1978), Prom Mom.
  • Keith Elias (born 1972), former National Football League running back for the New York Giants.
  • Chris Fleming (born 1970, class of 1988), basketball player who played at the University of Richmond before starring in Germany and becoming the head coach of Germany's men's national basketball team. He is currently an assistant coach with the Brooklyn Nets.
  • Mark Leiter Jr. (born 1991), baseball pitcher.
  • "Irish" Teddy Mann (born 1951), former world-rated middleweight boxer.
  • Scott Palguta (born 1982), professional soccer player.
  • Thomas Potter (1689–1777), farmer who in 1760 built a chapel in Good Luck for the purpose of spreading the doctrine of Universalism.
  • Jorge A. Rod (born 1947), politician who served as mayor of Lacey Township and in the New Jersey General Assembly from the 9th Legislative District from 1982 to 1986.
  • Warren Smith (born 1990), professional quarterback.
  • Alex Wojciechowicz (1915-1992), two-way football player who played at center on offense and at linebacker on defense who has been inducted into both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame.

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