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The general area of central New Jersey was once occupied by the LenapeNative Americans. According to a 1677 bill of sale now in the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton, New Jersey, Thomas Lawrence, a New York baker, purchased thousands of acres of land from local Native Americans named Querameck, Kesyacs, Isarick, Metapis, Peckawan, and Turantecas. In this document, the area is called Piscopeek, which later become known as Lawrence Brook, after its purchaser. Around the late 17th century, settlers began arriving in the northern part of East Brunswick, and by the mid-19th century, a small village had formed in the southeastern part, known as the Old Bridge section of the town, an area that was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.
The area today known as East Brunswick was incorporated in 1860 from parts of North Brunswick and Monroe townships, including the community of Old Bridge. Originally a farming community, suburban settlement started in the 1930s with improved road access. Large scale housing and road construction, especially after World War II, transformed East Brunswick into a more suburban community. The extension of the New Jersey Turnpike to East Brunswick in 1952 led to a sharp spike in population growth, with the 1950 Census population of 5,699 more than tripling to 19,965 as of the 1960 enumeration.
In the early 1970s a citizens group Concerned Citizens of East Brunswick sued the New Jersey Turnpike Authority over a proposed major widening project. The citizens group effectively won this case gaining concessions in turnpike design, scale and mitigation measures for noise and air quality. The citizens group presented technical data from their own experts and prevailed in what was one of the earliest technical confrontations regarding urban highway design related to environmental factors in U.S. history.
East Brunswick was also the site of the gunfight at Turnpike exit 9 shortly after midnight on May 2, 1973, in which a car being driven by Zayd Malik Shakur (born James F. Costan), with Assata Shakur (formerly JoAnne Chesimard) and Sundiata Acoli (born Clark Squire) as passengers, was stopped on the New Jersey Turnpike State Trooper James Harper, backed up by Trooper Werner Foerster in a second patrol vehicle. After Zayd Shakur was asked to step out of the car to address a discrepancy in his identification, a shootout ensued in which Trooper Foerster was shot twice in the head with his own gun and killed, Zayd Shakur was killed, and both Assata Shakur and Trooper Harper were wounded.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the township had a total area of 22.270 square miles (57.679 km2), including 21.699 square miles (56.200 km2) of land and 0.571 square miles (1.479 km2) of water (2.56%).
The township lies on exit 9 of the New Jersey Turnpike. Its Municipal Building, named for 1970s Mayor Jean Walling, is located 31 miles (50 km) southwest of New York City's Times Square and 49 miles (79 km) northeast of Center City, Philadelphia. It takes approximately 45-60 minutes to reach Midtown Manhattan or Center City, Philadelphia, depending on traffic and destination.Route 18 runs through the eastern part of the township.
There were 16,810 households out of which 37.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 65.8% were married couples living together, 9.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 21.6% were non-families. 19.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.81 and the average family size was 3.23.
In the township, the population was spread out with 24.1% under the age of 18, 7.3% from 18 to 24, 23.0% from 25 to 44, 32.1% from 45 to 64, and 13.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42.5 years. For every 100 females there were 93.6 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 90.4 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $100,655 (with a margin of error of +/- $3,929) and the median family income was $110,948 (+/- $3,838). Males had a median income of $80,527 (+/- $3,109) versus $54,162 (+/- $2,066) for females. The per capita income for the township was $41,518 (+/- $1,366). About 3.0% of families and 3.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.4% of those under age 18 and 6.4% of those age 65 or over.
Of the 16,372 households, 40.5% included children under the age of 18, 68.6% were married couples living together, 8.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 20.1% were non-families. 17.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.84 and the average family size was 3.23.
In the township the population was spread out with 26.0% under the age of 18, 6.2% from 18 to 24, 29.3% from 25 to 44, 26.9% from 45 to 64, and 11.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.1 males.
The median income for a household in the township was $75,956, and the median income for a family was $86,863. Males had a median income of $60,790 versus $38,534 for females. The per capita income for the township was $33,286. 2.8% of the population and 2.1% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 3.1% of those under the age of 18 and 5.4% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.
The Township of East Brunswick was established in 1860. Since January 1, 1965, the Township has operated under the Mayor-Council Plan E form of government pursuant to the Faulkner Act, Chapter 69A of Title 40 of the New Jersey Statutes.
The governing body consists of a mayor and a five-member Township Council, with all members elected at-large as part of the November general election in even-numbered years. The mayor and two council seats are up for vote together during Presidential election years, with the other seats up for vote two years later. Serving on a part-time basis as the chief executive of the community, the Mayor votes only in the case of a tie on a vote by the Township Council and can veto ordinances, but vetoes can be overridden by a two-thirds vote of the Council. The Township Council adopts ordinances; adopts a budget after review and revisions; makes appropriations; sets taxes and bond issues; creates and abolishes jobs via ordinance; sets salaries and establishes municipal policy. The Council has the authority to initiate hearings for the purposes of gathering information for ordinance making, airing public problems and supervising the spending of its appropriations.
As of 2017[update], the mayor of East Brunswick is Democrat Dr. Brad J. Cohen. Members of the Township Council are Council President Michael Hughes (R, 2018), Council Vice President James Wendell (D, 2018), Camille Ferraro Clark (R, 2018), Michael Spadafino (D, 2020) and Sterley Stanley (D, 2020).
Elected as a Republican, James Wendell announced in July 2017 that he was switching parties, giving Democrats control of the Township Council.
In February 2014, the Township Council appointed Michael Spadafino to fill the seat expiring in December 2016 that had been held by Nancy Pinkin, until she stepped down the previous month to take office in the New Jersey General Assembly. In the November 2014 general election, Spadafino was elected to serve the balance of the term of office.
David Stahl served as mayor from his election in 2012 until his resignation on January 14, 2016, when he left office to take on a judge position in nearby Woodbridge Township. The Township Council appointed Kevin McEvoy, a former history teacher at East Brunswick High School and trustee of the East Brunswick Public Schools, to serve the balance of Stahl's term as mayor that expires in December 2016; McEvoy has stated that he will not run to serve a full term as mayor.
Republicans took control of the Township Council for the first time in 14 years in 2010, as Camille Ferraro, Mike Hughes and James Wendell swept the three seats that were up for election, with voter sentiment focused on controversy over a redevelopment plan for a parcel of land known as the "Golden Triangle". Hughes, the youngest council member ever elected, said the stalled project was keeping property taxes disproportionately high on residents and called for revitalization of business.
Federal, state and county representation
East Brunswick Township is located in the 12th Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 18th state legislative district.
Middlesex County is governed by a Board of Chosen Freeholders, whose seven members are elected at-large on a partisan basis to serve three-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with either two or three seats coming up for election each year as part of the November general election. At an annual reorganization meeting held in January, the board selects from among its members a Freeholder Director and Deputy Director. As of 2015[update], Middlesex County's Freeholders (with party affiliation, term-end year, residence and committee chairmanship listed in parentheses) are
Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios (D, term ends December 31, 2015, Carteret; Ex-officio on all committees),
Freeholder Deputy Director Carol Barrett Bellante (D, 2017; Monmouth Junction, South Brunswick Township; County Administration),
Kenneth Armwood (D, 2016, Piscataway; Business Development and Education),
Charles Kenny ( D, 2016, Woodbridge Township; Finance),
H. James Polos (D, 2015, Highland Park; Public Safety and Health),
Charles E. Tomaro (D, 2017, Edison; Infrastructure Management) and
Blanquita B. Valenti (D, 2016, New Brunswick; Community Services). Constitutional officers are
County Clerk Elaine M. Flynn (D, Old Bridge Township),
Sheriff Mildred S. Scott (D, 2016, Piscataway) and Surrogate
Kevin J. Hoagland (D, 2017; New Brunswick).
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 31,297 registered voters in East Brunswick Township, of which 9,957 (31.8%) were registered as Democrats, 5,298 (16.9%) were registered as Republicans and 16,024 (51.2%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 18 voters registered to other parties.
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 55.9% of the vote (11,848 cast), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 42.8% (9,064 votes), and other candidates with 1.3% (275 votes), among the 21,332 ballots cast by the township's 31,870 registered voters (145 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 66.9%. In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 55.3% of the vote (12,817 cast), ahead of Republican John McCain with 43.0% (9,967 votes) and other candidates with 1.0% (238 votes), among the 23,187 ballots cast by the township's 32,144 registered voters, for a turnout of 72.1%. In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 53.8% of the vote (12,016 ballots cast), outpolling Republican George W. Bush with 45.1% (10,069 votes) and other candidates with 0.5% (163 votes), among the 22,348 ballots cast by the township's 30,364 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 73.6.
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 62.3% of the vote (7,849 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 36.4% (4,589 votes), and other candidates with 1.3% (164 votes), among the 12,731 ballots cast by the township's 31,870 registered voters (129 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 39.9%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 52.7% of the vote (7,805 ballots cast), ahead of Democrat Jon Corzine with 39.1% (5,799 votes), Independent Chris Daggett with 6.8% (1,007 votes) and other candidates with 0.9% (128 votes), among the 14,824 ballots cast by the township's 31,116 registered voters, yielding a 47.6% turnout.
Hatikvah International Academy Charter School, a Hebrew languagecharter school that offers an International Baccalaureate program opened in September 2010 for grades K-7, with plans to add a new grade each year until an eighth grade is offered. A lottery is held each year, with separate draws for residents of East Brunswick Township and non-residents, to allocate the limited number of positions available for each class. The school plans to build a permanent structure as part of the Campus for Jewish Life (formerly known as the YM-YWHA of Raritan Valley) to replace its current facility the school has rented located near Trinity Presbyterian Church. Concerns have been raised regarding the funding for the school, which will come from the East Brunswick Board of Education budget, including $1.34 million for the 2010-11 school year, and that the district will not be able to reduce expenses by the amount that will be paid to the charter school. Hatikvah school officials emphasize that charter schools can often educate students at a lower cost than traditional public schools and that "taxpayers do not pay an extra penny for having a charter school in town, period". The school received $75,000 in grants from foundations to cover the costs of applying for a charter and for getting the school operational. Hatikvah budgeted $11,033 per student for the 2010-11 school year, while the East Brunswick Public Schools budgeted $12,782 per pupil for that same year.
The Turnpike's "dual-dual" configuration (car-only and truck lanes) was extended from exit 10 in Edison Township to just south of exit 9 in 1973, then to exit 8A in 1990, and finally to exit 6 in 2014.
The former Raritan River Railroad, now part of Conrail, runs through the town, where two businesses still receive weekly freight shipments of plastic. There have been proposals to turn the line into a light rail corridor.
Playhouse 22, East Brunswick's Community Theatre and Performing Arts Center, resides in the multi-purpose Community Arts Center at Heavenly Park. Recognized in 2000 as Community Theatre of the Year in New Jersey, Playhouse 22 has staged many hit musicals, dramas, comedies and original works.
The town also has a public golf course (Tamarack), operated by the Middlesex County Improvement Authority; as well as the Giamarese Farm. The County Fair Grounds, located on Cranbury Road (County Route 535), is where the Middlesex County Fair is held every August for seven days, providing festivities and food for families throughout Central Jersey and surrounding regions.
People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with East Brunswick include:
^Raritan River Basin, Sierra Club, New Jersey Chapter - Raritan Valley Group. Accessed September 16, 2017. "The Raritan River proper forms at the confluence of the North Branch and the South Branch just west of Somerville. It flows 16 miles before slowing in tidewater at New Brunswick."
^Stirling, Stephen. "U.S. Census shows East Brunswick as statistical center of N.J.", The Star-Ledger, March 31, 2011. Accessed July 14, 2011. "For any of you who have ever lain awake at night asking: Where, oh where is the statistical center of New Jersey, there really is an answer. Nenninger Lane, East Brunswick. A few hundred feet into the woods along tiny Nenninger, a dead-end road beside the New Jersey Turnpike, sits the heart of the Garden State in terms of population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau."
^"East Brunswick, N.J., Represents State's Population Center.", The Star-Ledger, March 27, 2001. Accessed September 17, 2007. "And the center of New Jersey, according to 2000 census data, is a litter-strewn patch of woods on Milltown Road in East Brunswick. Demographers call it the center of population, the place that would require the least amount of travel if all the state's 8.4 million residents were to converge on one spot.
^Cheslow, Jerry. "If You're Thinking of Living in: East Brunswick", The New York Times, December 2, 1990. Accessed January 4, 2012. "The first settlers -- Dutch, English, Scots and Germans -- arrived in the 16th century, according to the East Brunswick Historical Society. One of them, Thomas Lawrence, bought several thousand acres from the Leni Lenape Indians to create a plantation in an area now known as Lawrence Brook, which is within walking distance of the park-and-ride operation at the Tower Center. The oldest homes are in a 126-acre historic district called Old Bridge, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Not to be confused with the nearby town of Old Bridge, the district arose next to the first bridge across the South River, which was used by early settlers to ship fruit and vegetables to New York City and Philadelphia."
^Cheslow, Jerry. "If You're Thinking of Living in: East Brunswick", The New York Times, December 2, 1990. Accessed March 20, 2017. "Midway between New York City and Philadelphia, East Brunswick is a classic commuter community.... 'The turnpike has 18 exits,' Mayor Sinagra noted, 'and we're exit 9. That means we are situated 45 minutes from two major employment centers.'"
^Rakossy, Rob. "Michael Spadafino Elected To East Brunswick Township Council", TapInto.net, February 11, 2014. Accessed July 12, 2016. "After a contentious and rancorous meeting two weeks ago, the East Brunswick Township Council reconvened Monday night to once again attempt to fill the vacancy created when former Councilwoman Nancy Pinkin moved on to her higher office in the New Jersey State Assembly.... While Council members Hughes, Wendell, and Contrino maintained their vote, Council President Ferraro elected to make the switch, voting this time for Spadafino, thus avoiding Mayor Stahl's need to break the tie, and electing Spadafino by a 3-1 margin over McEvoy. Spadafino was then immediately sworn in to his new role."
^Amaral, Brian. "Kevin McEvoy becomes new East Brunswick mayor", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, February 9, 2016. Accessed July 12, 2016. "Democrat Kevin McEvoy was appointed by the town council Monday night to fill the 11 months left on outgoing mayor David Stahl's term.... McEvoy will not run for another term in November, he said."
^Biography, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman. Accessed January 3, 2019. "Watson Coleman and her husband William reside in Ewing Township and are blessed to have three sons; William, Troy, and Jared and three grandchildren; William, Kamryn and Ashanee."
^New Jersey Turnpike Interchange 6 - 9 Widening: Description of the Proposed Project, New Jersey Turnpike Widening Project. Accessed January 4, 2012. "By the early 1970s, the dual-dual concept had been extended south to Interchange 9, thereby providing a twelve-lane facility (three lanes on separate inner and outer roadways in each direction) between Interchange 9 in East Brunswick and Interchange 14. The dual-dual concept was extended further south when separate outer roadways accommodating both truck and automobile traffic were constructed and opened to traffic in 1990 between Interchange 8A in Monroe and Interchange 9 in East Brunswick."
^Jordan, Chris. "East Brunswick native, 26, stars in two new films", Asbury Park Press, May 23, 2010. Accessed December 4, 2014. "In Eisenberg's short but productive career, the East Brunswick native has taken on a variety of roles, including a kid dealing with divorce in The Squid and the Whale; an amusement park ride operator in Adventureland and a zombie killer in Zombieland."
^Makin, Cheryl. "East Brunswick teen gives voice to bullying victims", Daily Record (Morristown), January 30, 2014. Accessed July 9, 2015. "When Kathleen Lonski has had something to say, she has found her words take on more meaning when put into song. Most recently, a song the East Brunswick High School junior wrote about bullying attracted the attention of the annual Secret 'Mean Stinks' and Seventeen magazine contest."
^Blank, Gerald. "Norwalk Didn't Vote For Marx", PM (newspaper), April 16, 1947. Accessed January 14, 2013. "He had been born, on February 18, 1908, one of five sons, in East Brunswick Township, N. J.... Irving Freese had gone to a one-room elementary school and had been graduated from the New Brunswick High School."
^Feitl, Steve. "UFC 218 fighter Sabah Homasi got athletic start in East Brunswick", Asbury Park Press, November 30, 2017. Accessed January 22, 2018. "While Sabah Homasi only spent the first decade of his life in East Brunswick, he has vivid memories of growing up in the Garden State. He and his friends from the neighborhood turned the street he lived on - Noel Lane - into their own athletic field, whether it was a baseball diamond, soccer pitch or basketball court."
^Olivier, Bobby. "N.J. American Idol singer Jax reveals she has cancer", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, August 8, 2016. Accessed December 20, 2016. "Jax, the bubbly 20-year-old who finished third on "American Idol" in 2015, revealed Monday she has thyroid cancer. In an interview with New Jersey 101.5 radio, the East Brunswick resident discussed a difficult last few months, which involved surgery to remove 12 cancerous tumors from her thyroid gland."
^Alexander, Andrea. "Sept. 11 kin want answers", Asbury Park Press, November 20, 2003. Accessed December 4, 2014. "'It is extremely disappointing,' said Mindy Kleinberg of East Brunswick. Her late husband, Alan, worked for Cantor Fitzgerald."
^Bourbeau, Mary Ann. "East Brunswick native voices SpongeBob Squarepants character", Courier News, November 15, 2015. Accessed December 20, 2016. "Sheldon J. Plankton, the villainous character on SpongeBob Squarepants, is in a never-ending search for the secret formula in his nemesis' Krabby Patty recipe. Though Plankton continuously fails in this quest, Douglas Lawrence Osowski, who voices the tiny sea creature on Nickelodeon's animated series, found the secret formula that led to his own success - animation."
^Stewart, Zan. "Guitarist Mellett loves its versatility", The Star-Ledger, May 15, 2008. Accessed February 13, 2011. "Performing with Glen Ridge-based Niewood, especially in an intimate trio, is a prime situation, says Mellett, who lives in East Brunswick with his wife, singer Jeanie Bryson."
^"Play it again, Badal Roy", India Abroad, September 10, 2004. Accessed June 26, 2008. "But last week, Roy, an East Brunswick, New Jersey-based tabla player, who has performed with the likes of Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Yoko Ono, was part of the tournament's opening night act."
^Rich, Motoko. "Reads Like a Book, Looks Like a Film", The New York Times, January 26, 2008. Accessed February 13, 2011. "Mr. Selznick, whose grandfather was a cousin of the legendary Hollywood producer David O. Selznick, grew up in East Brunswick, N.J., the oldest of three children."
^Staff. "Historic Trolley Treks planned for March 11", Old Bridge Suburban, March 8, 2007. Accessed February 13, 2011. "The East Brunswick Museum is housed in the former Simpson Methodist Church built in 1862 in the heart of the township's historic district. The museum has a large collection of local artifacts, including antique kitchen equipment, sewing and clothing pieces, farm implements, photographs, former New Jersey Gov. Harold Hoffman's elephant collection and several paintings by local artist James Crawford Thom."