Will The Good Times Last?

Many may not think that much can occur in a 0.9 square mile Borough, yet in Jamesburg, in the year 2003, there has not been so much news and changes since the time of James Buckelew. By comparing Jamesburg now to the Jamesburg of yesteryear (late 1800s and all the years in between), it is fairly easy to determine, through careful analysis, that Jamesburg is on the upswing and once again becoming a hub of activity, volunteerism, and ingenuity. 2003 is one of Jamesburg's first shining years that will continue for many.

Historic Picture of Jamesburg Before we begin looking at what is happening right now, we must fully understand how Jamesburg has achieved its present day status. To help you understand, it would be helpful to read The History of Jamesburg. This web site demonstrates both Jamesburg's history and present day status. The years between them are somewhat blurry and unclear, also demonstrating some of Jamesburg's lowest and dreadful years. It is here that a brief, but more complete history of Jamesburg will be examined. At the end, some of the most recent events will also be identified and explained.

During the time of Mr. James Buckelew (1800s), Jamesburg went from a sleepy stop on the railroad and was transformed into a bustling railroad, industrial, educational, and commerical hub for central New Jersey. This transformation was made possible by investment and risks. The investment turned out to be successful. Jamesburg was known for having some of the best mules, the largest manufaturer of shirts, a stable National Bank, a railroad stop, and a school open to ALL children. Jamesburg continued to prosper after Mr. Buckelew's death. However, near the end of the ninteenth century, fires, a changing economy, and the rise of the automobile led to a slowdown in the number of trains coming through town daily. Jamesburg began to lose its economic importance and once again transformed itself into a sleepy village with a main street and ocassional trains running through.

Jamesburg High School Jamesburg remained quiet through most of the early 1900s. It was thought that Jamesburg had all it needed to survive. Jamesburg began offering high school classes in 1906 and built its first high school building in 1911 (and a second in 1931). By 1909 Jamesburg was the hub of high school education hub, serving Helmetta, Spotswood, Cranbury, Monroe, Madison (Old Bridge), East Brunswick and South Brunswick Townships in southern Middlesex County, and Manalapan Township in Monmouth County. New schools were built in 1959 and 1968 to help modernize and replace the superb educational facilities at Jamesburg.

However, racial problems and "ghetto sections" developed in the late 1960s. Problems escalated when the state police had to be called in to control the escalating tension between white and African American residents. The town was barricaded and at some places, use of heavy weaponry was threatened by locals. These were some of the darkest and less talked about times in Jamesburg history. It was if Jamesburg had hit bottom and there was no immediate improvement in sight.

Conditions in Jamesburg slowly improved during the 1970s and 1980s. Jamesburg was once again a quiet, no frills community. In 1979, the Jamesburg High School closed due to low enrollment, further demonstrating the decline in Jamesburg's importance. Many more houses appeared in Jameburg during this time. Beaver Brook Run, Jamesburg's first townhouse development, was built and attracted many young families, increasing the elementary school population dramatically. It was not enough to keep the Jamesburg High School open however.

During the 1990s, a stronger economy and decreased inflation led to the beginning of improvements. East and West Railroad Avenues were revitalized through a grant that was obtained by Mayor Joe Tonkery. Despite the revitalization, Jamesburg lost many of its mom and pop stores; Holman's and Jamesburg Pharmacies, Intravatolo's market, Perrine's Pontiac, Baker's Office Supply, Leetronic's Video Store, Jamesburg Music, All Ocassions, the Kerwin Agency, and other fine establishments over the years.

Renaissance Commons More recently, those empty storefronts have found new owners, eager to start a new business in Jamesburg. Buildings have gone under total transformations in order to look clean and modern. Perrine's Pontiac was transformed into an inviting "strip mall" featuring a Dunkin' Donuts. Holman's Pharmacy is now home to Lisco's Country Cafe. The outside is quaint and the inside is filled with history: the original tin ceilings and hardwood floors. Although, with new times comes new problems. Jamesburg was 99% built up in 1990. One of the last pieces of open space, across from Beaver Brook met its demise in 2002 when plans were unveiled for another strip mall and office complex known as Renaissance Commons. The historic 1910 Stoffler home was demolished earlier this year to make way for a CVS on the corner of Forsgate Drive and Perrineville Road.

The Borough has seen many changes recently too. A new Borough Hall, another West Railroad Avenue streetscape project, a cell phone ban, a much needed addition to the John F. Kennedy Elementary School, a Borough Skate Park, and Jamesburg's first and second stoplights (third one coming soon!) have all been established within the past five years. New traditions have also begun under the cooperation of new and revived community groups. Jamesburg is once again becoming a leader.

Jamesburg's First Cell Tower If one closely examines the current Borough status, it can be paralleled with the Buckelew era. Jamesburg is once again prospering and enjoying a good economy. There is a renewed interest in keeping Jamesburg alive well into the twenty-first century. The local government is proactive in keeping Jamesburg moving in a positive direction. By examining the trends of development over the years in Jamesburg, one may notice a pattern, or cycle begin. Originally, Jamesburg went from being nothing but a tract of land with a grist mill to becoming very prosperous and important to the economy of central New Jersey. Then came the age of the automonile and decline of the railroads. Jamesburg fell into a slump, becoming a sleepy town and losing its status as a major leader. More recently, Jamesburg has once again been moving towards renewal and rebirth. This sense of renaissance is comprable to the status of Jamesburg in the 1800s. Yet, after seeing this wave of activity, can we be sure that Jamesburg will remain like this? Will the economy falter, taxes rise out of control, or politicians go corrupt? The future is uncertain. By studying history, it can be seen that a cycle exists. There is a possibility that twenty years from now, or even ten, Jamesburg may experience the wrath of the cycle again and fall silently into the background of society. According to the research and trends, it is inevitable. Yet, it can be slowed by smart planning, spending, and new initiatives. These new initiatives are beginning now and can be seen throughout the Borough. Here are some of the most recent projects:

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