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Byram Township was created by an act by the New Jersey General Assembly on February 5, 1798, from portions of the now-defunct Newton Township, and was incorporated on February 21, 1798, as one of New Jersey's initial group of 104 townships. The township was named for the Byram family, who were early settlers in the area. Byram Township was named in honor of patriarch Jephthah Byram and his family, who are believed to have emigrated to the area after the American Revolutionary War. Before being named Byram, the community had been called Lockwood. In fact, the Lockwood Tavern continued to hold this name until its demolition in 2015, to make room for a CVS Pharmacy. In 1829, a section of Green Township was incorporated into the township. Portions of the township have been taken to form Sparta Township (April 14, 1845), Brooklyn borough (March 24, 1898, now called Hopatcong) and Stanhope borough (March 24, 1904).
There are many historical sites located in Byram. The town's oldest structure, the 1802 Leport House, stands by the Byram General Store on Sparta-Stanhope Road. The Lockwood Cemetery, established around 1818, consists of about 30 gravestones and the remnants of a church's foundation. The 1853 Roseville Schoolhouse was recently moved from its original location on Lackawanna Drive to Mansfield Drive.
In 1911, the Lackawanna Cut-Off rail line opened through Byram Township, with a station stop near the current Forest Lakes neighborhood. The Cut-Off was part of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad's mainline from Hoboken, New Jersey to Buffalo, New York. The railroad was important in providing transportation for mines in Northern Jersey. It passes through Byram for a long distance. It runs mainly along Roseville, but as Roseville veers north, the tracks continue west. The line was abandoned in 1980 and the tracks were removed four years later. There is a proposal to reactivate passenger service via NJ Transit in the future, with work underway at the Roseville Tunnel.
In 2001, then-mayor Richard Bowe called for an investigation of weather forecasters due to a snowstorm that had been forecast but never materialized, arguing that forecasters should be held responsible for the "excessive overtime costs" that the township experienced and for losses of local businesses shut in advance of the predicted snowfall.
Byram Township had a very large mining industry in the past. There are so many mineral mines in Byram that there is one almost walking distance from anywhere. The biggest mine, The Roseville Mine, is located on the current Roseville Road. The mine is in a quadrilateral plot of land, with the southwestern corner created by Roseville Road and Amity Road. The southeastern corner is created by an intersection between Roseville Road and the Lackawanna Cut-off. The Roseville Mine was first excavated in the early 1850s. It was well worked during its life, with production in 1880 alone documented as 67,000 tons. Most of the work was done via a large open cut. This cut as it exists today, is water filled, however its massive size was impressive, its vertical walls being probably over 80 to 90 feet high. Another popular mine is the Charlotte Uranium mine. The mine extracted uranium from the rocks of southwestern Byram. The mine closed in the 1950s, but many remnants are still visible.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the township had a total area of 22.262 square miles (57.659 km2), including 21.073 square miles (54.579 km2) of land and 1.189 square miles (3.080 km2) of water (5.34%). It is divided into several sections. They include the neighborhoods of Forest West, East and West Brookwood, Forest Lakes, Lackawanna, Cranberry Lake, and the Lake Mohawk area.
The township is known as the "Township of Lakes" because of the community's nearly two dozen lakes and ponds.
Other unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the township include Brookwood East, Brookwood West, Cage Hill, Cranberry Lake, Forest Lakes, Jefferson Lake, Lake Lackawanna, Lockwood, Panther Pond, Roseville, Stag Pond, Tomahawk Lane, Waterloo, Wolf Lake and Wrights Pond.
Lubbers Run runs through the township, intersecting Mansfield Drive. The run is monitored monthly by the Byram Intermediate School's Environmental Club.
Punkhorn Creek runs through the township, flowing southwest from Lake Bottom, on the north side of and parallel with Amity Road, to Roseville Pond.
There were 2,926 households out of which 37.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 69.3% were married couples living together, 8.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 19.3% were non-families. 14.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 4.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.85 and the average family size was 3.19.
In the township, the population was spread out with 25.7% under the age of 18, 7.1% from 18 to 24, 24.3% from 25 to 44, 32.8% from 45 to 64, and 10.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41.2 years. For every 100 females there were 101.1 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 99.1 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $103,519 (with a margin of error of +/- $5,758) and the median family income was $113,555 (+/- $12,281). Males had a median income of $78,347 (+/- $7,621) versus $54,504 (+/- $5,146) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $43,160 (+/- $3,087). About 0.8% of families and 1.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.5% of those under age 18 and 2.6% of those age 65 or over.
There were 2,833 households out of which 43.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 72.9% were married couples living together, 6.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 18.2% were non-families. 13.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.91 and the average family size was 3.24.
In the township the population was spread out with 28.8% under the age of 18, 5.8% from 18 to 24, 32.4% from 25 to 44, 26.9% from 45 to 64, and 6.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.4 males.
The median income for a household in the township was $81,532, and the median income for a family was $89,500. Males had a median income of $59,722 versus $40,396 for females. The per capita income for the township was $30,710. About 0.9% of families and 1.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.0% of those under age 18 and 1.1% of those age 65 or over.
Parks and recreation
Trails and hiking
Byram Township is known as the "Gateway to New Jersey Trails".
Sussex Branch Trail extends 21.2 miles from Netcong to Branchville, following the route of the old Sussex Branch Railroad. This line was in service under various ownerships from 1848 - 1966. Today trail users can explore the route once used by steam locomotives and long freight trains.
C.O. Johnson Park, named for a former Byram mayor of about 25 years' tenure, has a football field, baseball field, tennis court, skateboard park, bocce court, and a track for walking. It has restrooms, a refreshment/snack area, and a picnic area with five tables with attached benches and two handicapped-accessible tables.
Riverside Park is at the intersection of River Road and Waterloo Road in Byram Township. Opened in late summer 2001, it is Byram's newest park. The park has the Musconetcong River running right behind it and features walking paths, fishing and canoeing. The park has a playground, picnic tables, a gazebo and basketball courts.
Tomahawk Park is a small park located on Tomahawk Trail in Byram Township. It is across from Tomahawk Lake.
Neil Gylling Memorial Park has two softball fields. A soccer field is also set up between the softball fields during the fall season. There are also two tennis courts. This is the traditional location for Byram Day which is celebrated the 2nd Saturday in September of every year.
Brookwood Park is a small park that contains a basketball court in East Brookwood.
Waterloo Village used to exhibit many time periods from a 400-year-old Lenape (Delaware) Native American village to a bustling port along the once prosperous Morris Canal. The early 19th-century village contained a working mill with gristmills and sawmills, a general store, a blacksmith shop and restored houses. Classical and popular music programs are available to the public during the summer months. Waterloo Village was shut down to preserve the artifacts inside, though plans have been made to restore the buildings on the site.
The Township of Byram is chartered under the Faulkner ActCouncil-Manager plan. Byram Township has a Mayor and four Council Members. The Mayor and all Township Council members are elected on an at-large basis in nonpartisan elections for four-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with either two seats (including the mayoral seat) or three seats up for election in odd-numbered years as part of the November general election, with terms beginning on January 1. In August 2010, the township became the first in the state to shift its non-partisan elections from May to November as part of an effort to raise turnout and cut costs by combining the municipal election with the November general election; the first election under the new cycle took place in November 2011.
As of 2019[update], the Mayor of Byram Township is Alexander Rubenstein, whose term of office ends on December 31, 2021. Members of the Byram Township Council are David E. Gray (2019), Nisha Kash (2019), Scott Olson (2019) and Harvey Roseff (2021).
Federal, state and county representation
Byram Township is located in the 11th Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 24th state legislative district.
Sussex County is governed by a Board of Chosen Freeholders whose five members are elected at-large in partisan elections on a staggered basis, with either one or two seats coming up for election each year. At an annual reorganization meeting held in the beginning of January, the board selects a Freeholder Director and Deputy Director from among its members, with day-to-day supervision of the operation of the county delegated to a County Administrator. As of 2014[update], Sussex County's Freeholders are
Freeholder Director Richard Vohden (R, Green Township, 2016),
Deputy Director Dennis J. Mudrick (R, Sparta Township, 2015),
Phillip R. Crabb (R, Franklin, 2014),
George Graham (R, Stanhope, 2016) and
Gail Phoebus (R, Andover Township, 2015). Graham was chosen in April 2013 to fill the seat vacated by Parker Space, who had been chosen to fill a vacancy in the New Jersey General Assembly.
Constitutional officers elected on a countywide basis are
County Clerk Jeff Parrott (R, 2016),
Sheriff Michael F. Strada (R, 2016) and
Surrogate Gary R. Chiusano (R, filling the vacancy after the resignation of Nancy Fitzgibbons). The County Administrator is John Eskilson.
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 5,805 registered voters in Byram Township, of which 1,128 (19.4% vs. 16.5% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 1,957 (33.7% vs. 39.3%) were registered as Republicans and 2,714 (46.8% vs. 44.1%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 6 voters registered to other parties. Among the township's 2010 Census population, 69.5% (vs. 65.8% in Sussex County) were registered to vote, including 93.6% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 86.5% countywide).
In the 2012 presidential election, Republican Mitt Romney received 2,373 votes (60.5% vs. 59.4% countywide), ahead of Democrat Barack Obama with 1,464 votes (37.3% vs. 38.2%) and other candidates with 78 votes (2.0% vs. 2.1%), among the 3,923 ballots cast by the township's 5,883 registered voters, for a turnout of 66.7% (vs. 68.3% in Sussex County). In the 2008 presidential election, Republican John McCain received 2,693 votes (59.6% vs. 59.2% countywide), ahead of Democrat Barack Obama with 1,728 votes (38.3% vs. 38.7%) and other candidates with 76 votes (1.7% vs. 1.5%), among the 4,517 ballots cast by the township's 5,735 registered voters, for a turnout of 78.8% (vs. 76.9% in Sussex County). In the 2004 presidential election, Republican George W. Bush received 2,727 votes (62.6% vs. 63.9% countywide), ahead of Democrat John Kerry with 1,558 votes (35.8% vs. 34.4%) and other candidates with 56 votes (1.3% vs. 1.3%), among the 4,353 ballots cast by the township's 5,371 registered voters, for a turnout of 81.0% (vs. 77.7% in the whole county).
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 70.0% of the vote (1,948 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 26.2% (729 votes), and other candidates with 3.8% (105 votes), among the 2,814 ballots cast by the township's 5,975 registered voters (32 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 47.1%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 1,971 votes (65.4% vs. 63.3% countywide), ahead of Democrat Jon Corzine with 715 votes (23.7% vs. 25.7%), Independent Chris Daggett with 286 votes (9.5% vs. 9.1%) and other candidates with 35 votes (1.2% vs. 1.3%), among the 3,016 ballots cast by the township's 5,708 registered voters, yielding a 52.8% turnout (vs. 52.3% in the county).
The Consolidated School, a former public school building that had previously been used by the school district for students in Kindergarten through second grade, has been leased to a private special needs school named Celebrate the Children.
Private schools in the area include Reverend Brown in Sparta for grades K-8. Hilltop Country Day School, which also serves K-8, also has students from Byram. Byram has students in various private high schools, but all but one school are located outside of Sussex County. Pope John XXIII Regional High School, in Sparta Township, is the location of the only private high school in Sussex County, which has around 10 students from Byram.
I-80 eastbound in Byram Township
Roads and highways
As of May 2010[update], the township had a total of 62.35 miles (100.34 km) of roadways, of which 45.40 miles (73.06 km) were maintained by the municipality, 12.34 miles (19.86 km) by Sussex County and 4.61 miles (7.42 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
The township is bisected by U.S. Route 206. A small portion of Interstate 80 passes through the southern tip of Byram Township but without any interchanges.
^ abcFAQ, Byram Township. Accessed July 1, 2011. "Byram Township is located in Northern New Jersey in Sussex County. Byram is known as The Township of Lakes, having more than two dozen lakes and ponds. Several large communities have grown around the larger lakes."
^ abcdeSnyder, John P. The Story of New Jersey's Civil Boundaries: 1606-1968, Bureau of Geology and Topography; Trenton, New Jersey; 1969. p. 229. Accessed October 25, 2012. A date of April 9, 1798, is shown as the date the township was formed, which appears to be incorrect, as the township was incorporated some six weeks earlier.
^ abByram Township HistoryArchived 2007-08-22 at the Wayback Machine, Byram Township. Accessed June 13, 2007. "Byram Township was established on February 5, 1798, having been separated from the vast area that was then Newton. The name honored the Byram Family, surveyors who had settled in the area before the Revolution. In 1798, the head of the family was Jephthah Byram, who is buried in the Sparta Cemetery."
^Higgs, Larry. "Construction underway on commuter rail line to Sussex County", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, January 14, 2015. Accessed October 31, 2016. "This spring, NJ Transit plans to take bids to build a station and high level platforms in Andover, and to do more track construction and work on the Roseville Tunnel, Smith said. Passenger service could start in four years, depending on factors such as how weather conditions affect construction, he said."
^via Associated Press. "N.J. mayor wants investigation into snowstorm", USA Today, March 8, 2001. Accessed April 9, 2013. "Byram Township Mayor Richard Bowe, who is an attorney, is calling for a federal or state investigation in an attempt to determine if the forecasts of heavy snow and blizzard conditions were mistakes or a deliberate attempt to generate ratings."
^Paulinskill & Sussex Branch Trails, Liberty Water Gap Trail. Accessed July 2, 2011. "The Sussex Branch Trail follows a section of the route of the former Sussex Branch line of the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad that extends through Sussex County from Byram Township in the south to Branchville Borough.... Located in Sussex County, the trail follows a 20-mile route beginning from the north at the Frankford Township-Branchville Borough boundary, and continues south through Lafayette Township, Andover Township, and Andover Borough to its southern terminus in Byram Township at Waterloo Road."
^Gail Phoebus, Sussex County, New Jersey. Accessed July 28, 2014.
^ abMiller, Jennifer Jean. "George Graham Chosen as Freeholder at Sussex County Republican Convention", TheAlternativePress.com, April 13, 2013. Accessed April 25, 2013. "Graham will fill the freeholder seat that New Jersey Assemblyman Parker Space left to take his new position. Space recently took the seat, which formerly belonged to Gary Chiusano, who in turn, was appointed to the spot of Sussex County Surrogate, following the retirement of Surrogate Nancy Fitzgibbons."
^Home Page, Sussex County Clerk's Office. Accessed July 28, 2014.
^Gansberg, Martin. "Netcong Links Its Problems to I-80", The New York Times, September 29, 1974. Accessed December 14, 2016. "And taxes have taken a big jump because of the need for joining with adjacent Stanhope in operating a regional high school, Lenape Valley, which opened last week.... The reason for the increase is because Netcong had to join with Stanhope, which is in Sussex County, to construct the regional high school."
^Staff. "New Jersey Sports Lenape Start Fast", The New York Times, October 26, 1974. Accessed December 14, 2016. "Snyder is the 36-year-old head football coach at new Lenape Valley Regional High School, which opened its doors last month to students who formerly attended Sparta High and defunct Netcong High."
^Carlson, Joe. "Christmas star is subject of planetarium show", New Jersey Herald, November 15, 2013. Accessed December 14, 2016. "The 53-seat planetarium, the only one in Sussex County, has been teaching students about the universe since Netcong, Byram and Stanhope combined to form Lenape Valley Regional High School in 1974."
^Stewart, Amy. "Seats open on Bryam Steering Committee"Archived 2012-03-19 at the Wayback Machine, The Township Journal, February 15, 2008. Accessed July 2, 2011. "Looking at the municipal buildings that already exist will be part of the process. These include the civic center, formally the consolidated school. The use of that building on Lackawanna Drive periodically comes into question since a large portion of the building is rented to Celebrate the Children, a school run privately for children with educational disabilities, mainly autism."