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Home | About Us | Branches | Barnegat Branch | Community Profile
Barnegat Community Profile barnegat branch

History  

The earliest known inhabitants of the Barnegat area were members of the Lenni Lenape tribe. They would come to the coast each spring to fish, hunt, and gather food in preparation for an inland winter. As more and more European settlers arrived, these Native American expeditions lessened and eventually tribal members were relocated to reservations. The name “Barnegat” was derived from the name given to Barnegat Inlet by early 17th century Dutch explorers. The Barnegat Bay proved to a lifeline for the Barnegat community is the centuries to come.

Early means of survival included the bay (clams, oysters, fish), hunting, and subsistence farming. The whaling industry developed, as did the building of whaling boats. Barnegat became a major port after the Revolution. For most of the 19th century, Barnegat was a thriving village due to natural resources, shipping, and shipbuilding. The 1850 census listed shipbuilding as the leading mechanical business. However, as top quality lumber began to be depleted, shipbuilding waned. Many sea captains chose to settle in Barnegat and brought new wealth to the community as they prospered during the Civil War. After the war, Barnegat became a popular summer resort with several large inns, two railroad stations and an end of century department store.

In the early 1900s, Barnegat was a thriving community. The Barnegat Glass Company was the only glass factory ever operated in Ocean County. It made green glass bottles and brought many workers to the area until it closed in 1914.Another flourishing business was the Perrine Sneakbox building business. Other industry included a sawmill, tannery, short lived silkworm venture, and the export of salt hay, moss, peat, huckleberries and cranberries.

The greatest growth came prior to WWI as Barnegat became a main railroad terminal for the Tuckerton, Jersey Central, and NY railroads. The next building boom occurred in the late 60s and early 70s when developers noticed the potential of the area. Barnegat is still a rapidly growing community. This growth is balanced with a deep commitment to historic preservation and protection of natural resources including the Barnegat Bay where this story began..

Topography

Barnegat Township is a 33.62 square mile land area in central New Jersey.  It is best described as lying in the south-central coastal portion of Ocean County, adjoining Barnegat Bay. Barnegat Township shares boundaries with the Ocean County municipalities of Lacy, Ocean, Long Beach, Harvey Cedars and Stafford; and Woodland in Burlington County.

The township originally developed along the Route 9/Bay Avenue axis, which is presently designated the historic district with preservation restrictions. Within this district are parks, antique stores, gift shops and boutiques, restaurants and museums.  Other housing spread out from this area, with a large number of developments going up since the seventies, mostly concentrated in the eastern half of the township. An additional 6.2 miles of frontage on Barnegat Bay offer a public dock and boardwalk, boat launching facilities, crabbing and fishing, plus a bay-bathing beach. 

Barnegat Township is entirely within the Outer Coastal Plains, consisting of Pine Barrens forests of predominately pitch pines and various black and white oaks in the higher regions, and white cedar along the streams. Because of the environmental importance of the fresh and tidal waters and the wildlife in the Pinelands and coastal area, Barnegat Township comes under the State Plan, which sets limits on land use and construction. The Pinelands Protection Act of 1979, administrated by the New Jersey Pinelands Commission regulates all forms of construction in the Pinelands Protection area, which includes all of Barnegat west of the Garden State Parkway. Protection of the Pinelands is further promoted by the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, an influential citizen's group, which periodically meets in Barnegat Township. The tidal wetlands, which extend from Route 9 to Barnegat Bay, are regulated by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, with the exception of those areas that are under the federal jurisdiction of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge.

Commerce

Historically, Barnegat has been a rural community, depending on the sea and the bay for the income of its residents.  Currently, there are no dominant types of business or industry in the township.  It has changed into a community of working people whose occupations lie predominantly outside of the area.  Retired people are also attracted to Barnegat’s coastal residential environment, and in the last twenty years this population has further increased with new senior developments. Most of the businesses and a few professional offices are situated along Route 9 and along Bay Avenue in the eastern part of town.  Eighty five percent of the taxable township property is residential while seven percent is commercial.  Barnegat Village Square, a 67,000 square foot shopping area, which includes a Genuardi’s Supermarket and a Burger King, with small shops and restaurants in the mall, was completed in 1999.  There is an A&P Shopping mall on Route 9 North and Gunning River Mall is on West Bay Avenue.  Most extensive shopping is done outside of Barnegat, as it does not have a primary shopping area.

The historic downtown area has small, predominantly antique shops.  There are a few marinas in the bay area.  Other businesses reflect the needs of commuting, home-centered residents. The western end of the township has a few businesses which are located along Route 72.

Transportation 

There are three major arteries in Barnegat Township.  The Garden State Parkway is the major north-south highway, and carries a large number of Barnegat residents to and from their jobs in Toms River and other areas in the north.  The Barnegat Township interchange (Exit 67) on the Parkway provides only a southbound exit and a northbound entrance. The other heavily used north-south roadway is Route 9, which lies east of the Parkway and is a two-lane roadway. 

West Bay Avenue (RT 554) is the major west-east roadway in the township.  It stretches from Route 72, across the Parkway to Route 9.  It continues as East Bay Avenue once it crosses Route 9 and ends along the bay. The library is conveniently located just off of West Bay Avenue about ¼ mile from Route 9. 

Public transportation along Route 9 is provided by New Jersey Transit, extending from Atlantic City to Lakewood. Barnegat Township is also served by “Ocean Ride”, a transportation service funded by the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders.  Senior Citizens and customers with disabilities can ride for a reduced fare.  Ocean County offers Barnegat-Manahawkin Wednesday Bus Service and “Barn-A-Bus” by appointment.  There is also taxi service in Barnegat Township.

Community Organizations

There are a variety of organizations in the Township.  There are sports leagues for little league baseball, wrestling, basketball, cheerleading, girls’ softball, Pop Warner football, etc.    Senior communities have their own clubs and other senior clubs are the Silverliners and Primetimers. Veterans’ groups include the VFW and American Legion.  There is a Garden Club and Women’s Club, Masonic lodges and the Friends of the Barnegat Library.  Schools have parent/student organizations and political parties have clubs.  Locate some of these organizations in our Clubs and Organizations Directory.

Recreation and Entertainment

Barnegat administrations have made a strong commitment to providing recreational programs and facilities for the township. A recreational director was first hired in 1982, and in June of 1987, the new Barnegat Recreation Center was opened at 900 West Bay Avenue. Its present director is Beverly Neyenhouse. There are art, dance, sports, and theater programs for children and teens, and aerobic classes for adults. The Recreation Department sponsors two senior groups, the Silverliners and the Primetimers. These groups meet at the Recreation Center and numerous trips and activities are provided year-round. 

The township maintains parks, a public beach and dock, ball fields, and tennis and basketball courts. A skateboard/skating park was opened in 1999.  The Township community center offers ping-pong, billiards, indoor/outdoor shuffleboard, bocce, picnic area and playground. The Barnegat Recreation Committee arranges major events annually.  The Fourth of July celebration and Pirate’s Day (Saturday before Labor Day) are the Township’s major events. The Memorial Day Parade, Kids Fish and Krab Kontest, Women’s History Tea (cosponsored by the Barnegat Library) are highly anticipated events.  A Township parade is held on the Saturday prior to Halloween. Concerts are held on Sunday evenings at the dock during the summer.

The Barnegat Historical Society Heritage Center, composed of four historic buildings on East Bay Avenue, is open to the public on part-time weekend hours from mid-June to mid-September. The Society sponsors an annual flea and craft market, a quilt show and other events for the community.

Communication

The most popular daily newspapers in the Barnegat area are The Asbury Park Press and the Ocean County Observer.   The Atlantic City Press is also available in the area.  Weekly papers include The Beacon which regularly includes Barnegat news.  Pennysaver weeklies include The Beachcomber, The Mailbag, and The Sandpaper.  Pennysaver semi-weeklies include The Barnegat Bay Banner, which lists local events under “Neighborhood Happenings.”  The Forked River Gazzette is delivered to local businesses and the Barnegat Library.  It contains the library calendar.  The Barnegat Leader is published monthly and news about the Barnegat Library is in the column called “The Library Shelf.”  Southern Regional High School runs a cable television station with news about the school, students, events and the library’s programs.

Folklore

Any story ever told about Barnegat must include the legend of Barnegat Pete. He is the idealization of the heart and soul of a small town. It just so happens we were lucky enough to be the town that lays claim to his story.

On Sunday May 19th 1935 a large forest fire consumed over 25,000 acres of Barnegat and three surrounding towns. Patrick Raymond Beckett, while fighting the fire spotted a small animal hiding under some brush. Thinking it was a rabbit he picked it up and found that it was a baby fawn, he wrapped it and brought it home to safety.

 The Beckett family kept the fawn as a pet. As it grew, Barnegat residents made sure it was protected. A tag was made for around his neck, which read; "This is Barnegat Pete. Barnegat Children's playmate. Don't shoot."

 Pete was a familiar sight in downtown Barnegat from 1935-1945. As a cherished member of the community he indulged in free ice cream at Brower's Drug store (now the Hurricane House) and was escorted by State Police across Rt.9 and Bay Aves.

 In 1945 it was decided Pete should be taken to the Philadelphia Zoo. Pete's caretakers had grown and moved on in their lives, but years later, when Mrs. Beckett visited the zoo and called "Hey Petey" a deer broke from the pack and put his nose through the bars on Mrs. Beckett's face.

 A painting of Barnegat Pete by the late Bill Schulz is behind our circulation desk. Patrons enjoy it everyday. If you're lucky we tell a newcomer the story that epitomizes our town.

 

Lydia Lloyd, Branch Manager

 
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