Monroe Township is a Township in Middlesex County, New Jersey, United States. As of the United States 2000 Census, the township population was 27,999. Monroe was incorporated as a township by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on April 9, 1838, from portions of South Amboy Township, based on the results of a referendum held that same day. Portions of the township were taken to form East Brunswick Township (February 28, 1860), Cranbury Township (March 7, 1872) and Jamesburg (March 19, 1887).
In 1905, Bernarr Macfadden, the then-famous proponent of physical culture, came to the part of Monroe near Helmetta and Spotswood, and attempted to set up a camp called "Physical Culture City", where he could teach his beliefs in relative peace. However, in 1907, Macfadden was arrested for distribution of pornography and the camp dissolved. The area of this camp became the Outcalt neighborhood.
The New Jersey State Home for Boys, later the Training School for Boys, and now the New Jersey Training School for Boys was established near Jamesburg. It was opened in 1867 as a home for troubled youth; however, by the mid-20th century, its purpose was to incarcerate juvenile delinquents. One of the more famous residents of The State Home was Rubin "Hurricane" Carter. Clarence Clemons of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band was a social worker there for many years during the 60's before he found fame as a sax player with Springsteen.
The township's largely agrarian landscape began to turn more suburban between 1960 and 1968, when the New Jersey Turnpike opened up Exit 8A in the western part of Monroe, in conjunction with the effort to develop the Leisure World age-restricted community of Rossmoor. Since then, at least five more communities for senior citizens have joined Rossmoor: Concordia, Clearbrook, Greenbriar at Whittingham, The Ponds, and Encore, and the prestigious Regency at Monroe. More are under development.
At the same time, and over the next few decades, suburbs for people of all ages spread into the northern parts of Monroe Township, prompting the expansion of several schools and the construction of new ones. Since 1980, in addition to the age restricted communities, Monroe has added shopping centers, a synagogue, a recreation center, and a new library
On Wednesday March 22, 2006, ten residents of Monroe Township, from The Ponds retirement community, were killed in a tour bus accident in the Andes mountains in northern Chile. The tour had been arranged by the Jewish organization, B'nai B'rith. As Governor of New Jersey Jon Corzine put it, "Today, all of New Jersey is stunned and saddened by the tragic accident in Chile that took the lives of lifelong friends — vibrant and beloved residents of a community in Monroe Township who chose to share the adventure of their twilight years together" (NY Times). Of the 12 people killed, one couple was from Stamford, Connecticut. The bodies that were recovered were flown back to Monroe Township for funerals on Sunday March 26, 2006.
Over the past years, Monroe has had a surge in residential development. New communities are being erected usually around the Turnpike. Portions of Monroe's farmland are beial zoning, and commercial zoning. Roads have been widened to allow for the extra vehicular volume. Warehouses are being/have been constructed in the last few years along CR 535, located near the 8A toll gate. The northern section of the township is already developed, with developers heading further south in Monroe to start new communities. New adult communities have set ground in central Monroe, along Route 33, and on CR 615. While these new senior citizen housing units are being built, luxury homes are also being constructed. However, many senior citizens are opposed to these new construction plans since new homes would bring in more children, and therefore raise their school taxes.
There has also been a proposal to expand the Monroe Township High School by relocating it onto portions of Thompson Park (which is slowly receiving approval after an archaeological study concluded that the land was not historically significant, except about 3 or of land). The controversy that led to the study involved a Lenape settlement, Bethel Indian Town, which protesters contended existed on the site, whereas supporters of the move of the high school claimed that Bethel Indian Town was a half-mile away. In late April 2008, construction started of the new high school. The new high school is scheduled to open in September of 2011.
Monroe is planning on developing the area of land along Route 33 (Route 33 Land Development Task Force) all the way from the town line in East Windsor Township to Millstone Township. This proposal would include the construction of new luxury houses, a new grocery store, a baseball park, a performing arts center, a bus stop, new restaurants, and new businesses.
Along County Route 619, new developments are beginning to surge forward. This surge has led 619 to be widened as an avenue in anticipation for the future traffic. A proposed grocery store is planned to be built at the corner of Applegarth Road, and Halsey Reed Road/Federal Road (Extension). Along Federal Road, new luxury houses are being built and will extend south towards the village of Applegarth. Along the Millstone River will be a new high class development, called the Millstone Preserve. These new developments are under construction.
Monroe Township borders the Township of South Brunswick, Cranbury Township, Helmetta, Spotswood, East Brunswick Township, the Township of Old Bridge, and completely surrounds Jamesburg in Middlesex County, Manalapan Township and Millstone Township in Monmouth County, and East Windsor Township in Mercer County.
There were 12,536 households out of which 15.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.6% were married couples living together, 3.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.3% were non-families. 32.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 28.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.15 and the average family size was 2.70.
In the township the population was spread out with 16.0% under the age of 18, 4.2% from 18 to 24, 16.3% from 25 to 44, 20.0% from 45 to 64, and 43.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 59 years. For every 100 females there were 84.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.3 males.
The median income for a household in the township was $53,306, and the median income for a family was $68,479. Males had a median income of $56,431 versus $35,857 for females. The per capita income for the township was $31,772. About 1.3% of families and 3.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.9% of those under age 18 and 3.0% of those age 65 or over.
For those who have lived in Mill Lake Manor, the area is broken down further into the "Old" and "New" Manor (split by Monmouth Road on the east and west sides, the Old being east and the New being the west side). The Manor also encompasses the developments of Inwood.
The neighborhood east of Spotswood-Englishtown Road, centered around Monmouth Road, extending down to 1st Avenue, is called the North Manor, or Manor Heights.
The Mayor of Monroe Township is Richard Pucci Members of the Borough Council are Council President Gerald W. Tamburro, Council Vice President Henry L. Miller, Joanne M. Connolly, Irwin Nalitt and Leslie Koppel-Egierd
During the 1991-1992 academic school year, Mill Lake Elementary School received the Blue Ribbon Award from the United States Department of Education, the highest honor that an American school can achieve. This honor was followed during the 1998-99 academic school year, to Barclay Brook Elementary School across town. Both of Monroe Township's pre-K through third grade schools received such an esteemed honor.
Some of the age-restricted communities, such as Rossmoor and Concordia, have their own transportation services within the communities. In addition, Middlesex County runs shuttles to Jamesburg from East and New Brunswick (the New Brunswick shuttle schedule is at ). Since Monroe entirely surrounds Jamesburg, Monroe Township also benefits from the shuttles.
Route 33 runs through the southern part of Monroe, which then travels through Millstone Township and East Windsor Township. Monroe has various bus stops that allow passengers to take a bus to the Port Authority Bus Terminal, adjacent to the Lincoln Tunnel. Monroe's most busiest roads during the peak hours are Applegarth Road, Forsgate Drive and Route 32, which connects to the New Jersey Turnpike (Interstate 95). Exit 8A is located on the western edge of Monroe Township, with a 9-lane toll gate, featuring a "modified" double trumpet interchange (with a few ramps continuing into South Brunswick Twp).
Monroe Township is known for the Turnpike's division (where it divides into Inner Car Lanes & Outer Truck Lanes) and its dangerous (and often-congested) merge, where the dual-dual configuration ends (5 lanes each direction; 2-3-3-2) and becomes a single roadway, consisting of three lanes in each direction (3-3); the merge is particularly difficult to travel through on Friday afternoons, summertime and on holidays. When the turnpike is congested (in the 8A vicinity), many motorists exit in Monroe Township at 8A and use 32 West to U.S. Route 130 south. Since 8A has become so busy, the turnpike interchange has been upgraded. The ramp (from the Turnpike) that merges onto 32 west, has been destroyed; a new two-lane ramp is now open that connects to County Route 535 (with a traffic signal) in South Brunswick Twp. Motorists must then take 535 south to gain access to 32 westbound.
The New Jersey Turnpike Authority had proposed to construct a west-east spur of the Turnpike, NJ 92. It would begin at US 1 just north of the intersection with Ridge Road in the Twp of South Brunswick and would terminate at Exit 8A in the area of the 8A toll gate in Monroe Township.
On December 1, 2006, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority terminated its plans to build the spur from Ridge & 1 in South Brunswick to 8A in Monroe. The Authority's main focus will now be on widening the Turnpike between Exit 6 (in Mansfield Township) and Exit 8A (in Monroe Township).
At the present time, there are plans to widen I-95/New Jersey Turnpike between Exit 9 in East Brunswick Township to Exit 8A in Monroe Township. This would change the dual-dual configuration (from 2-3-3-2) to "3-3-3-3."
Monroe houses a few county routes: CR 535, CR 522, and CR 527. While CR 520 doesn't pass through Monroe, it turns into CR 612. This makes CR 520/612 a connector between Shore Points/Garden State Parkway (Exit 109 in Middletown Township) and the New Jersey Turnpike at Exit 8A in Monroe Township. (However, some maps (such as Tele Atlas) indicate that 520 traverses through Monroe Township, and ends at CR 613.)