first settlers to Lacey were the Lenape Indians,
who foraged along the bay for fish and shellfish.
No white settlers arrived until the early eighteenth
century. In the 1760’s, the first house of
worship, constructed by Thomas Potter, was established
at Good Luck, and later became the birthplace of
the Universalist Church of America. In 1809,
John Lacey, a Revolutionary War general, built Ferrago
Forge---for his contribution to the growth and importance
of the area, the township was named for him when
it was incorporated in 1871.
The beginning of the 19th century saw
the decline of the lumber and bog ore industries,
as resources were depleted. Fishing, oystering,
and the pleasure resort trade became the major industries.
Although less than 500 people lived in Lacey, the
town had a number of large hotels: the Lafayette
House, the Carman House (which later became Eno’s
Riverside Hotel), the Blodgett House, and Parker
House (which became the Greyhound Inn). All
these hostelries are gone, except for the Casino
of Eno’s Hotel, which today is the Captain’s Inn.
These hotels catered to tourists who came
for boating, fishing, and hunting. Some local
residents found jobs in these tourist-related occupations,
but a number of employees were recruited elsewhere.
Other areas of employment for residents centered
around cutting ice on the Mill Pond, cutting salt
hay in the meadows, farming, a bottling works, and
The township is still comprised of three specific
areas: Forked River, Lanoka Harbor, and Bamber;
but they no longer function as separate entities.
Until the 1930’s, each community had its own post
office, school, school board, and railroad station
isolated from each other by poor roads and distance.
Bamber, located to the west of the Parkway, was
served by the Tuckerton Railroad, while Forked River
and Lanoka Harbor were serviced by the Central Railroad
of New Jersey.
group of Newark businessmen began the Barnegat Pines
development, which subsequently brought new residents
from central and northern New Jersey, and also Pennsylvania.
Township , incorporated
in 1871, is located in central Ocean County, along
Barnegat Bay. It is bordered by 5 municipalities:
Barnegat, on the southwestern boundary; Ocean Township
(Waretown) on the southeastern boundary; Berkeley
Township on the northern boundary; Manchester Township
on the northwest boundary; and Woodland Township
(Burlington County) on the western boundary.
It has a land area of 84.6 square miles. Of
the total land in Lacey Township, 42,469 acres (or
66.4 square miles---primarily west of the Garden
State Parkway) fall within the
New Jersey Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan
of 1979, which has placed limits on the development
in these areas. The Preservation Area (30,532
acres) can be utilized for purposes which are compatible
with maintaining its long-term ecological integrity
(forestry, fish and wildlife management, berry agriculture,
etc.). The Protection Area (11,837 acres)
is divided into 2 divisions: the Forest Area (10,874
acres), which restricts development to one (1) dwelling
per 25 acres; and the Rural Development Area (963
acres), which restricts development to one (1) dwelling
per 11 acres. Added to this, 1/3 of the land
east of the Garden State Parkway is designated as
being freshwater and salt dominant wetlands, which
prohibits development. As these figures illustrate,
the amount of buildable land in Lacey Township will
soon be exhausted.
of the land features of Lacey Township, and also
a source of humor, is the Forked River Mountains,
which are really a pair of prominent sand and gravel
hills. They encompass 20,000 acres in the
Pinelands area west of the Garden State Parkway.
The largest one rises 184 feet above sea level---not
very high, but due to the levelness of the surrounding
area, they provide a scenic view of Barnegat Lighthouse,
the vast pine forest, and even the hangar at the
Naval Air Engineering Station at Lakehurst.
The Forked River Mountain Coalition is a group
of volunteers dedicating their efforts to preserve
this area, especially for the endangered plant and
animal life that resides there.
Township has several designations for commercial
zones: C-100 Marine Commercial Zone; C-150, C-200,
and C-300 Business Zones (Route 9); and O-C Office
Commercial Zone (Lacey Road). Lacey Township’s
commercial district is disbursed along Route 9 (the
major retailing roadway) and Lacey Road (with strip
malls housing medical, legal, and other service
providers). The largest industry in Lacey
Township is Amergen Nuclear Power Plant (Oyster
Creek), which is in the southern part of Forked
River, bordering Waretown. As more businesses
and chain stores open in Lacey Township, the residents
no longer need to travel to Toms River or Manahawkin
as frequently for their shopping needs.
The Greater Lacey Chamber of Commerce
has been actively working to
publicize the businesses in Lacey to encourage residents
to “shop locally”.
are 3 major arteries in Lacey Township. The
Garden State Parkway is the major north-south highway,
and was recently enlarged to provide entrances and
exits for both northbound and southbound traffic,
with the addition of a toll for northbound entrance
and southbound exit. Route 9 is also a major
north-south thoroughfare, but it is a two-lane roadway,
with many stores and businesses, so travel on this
road is much slower than on the Parkway. Lacey
Road is the major east-west roadway, stretching
from the Manchester border to the bay. Several
other roads in the township have become heavily
used as they were discovered to be “short-cuts”
to other areas.
“Rail Trail” project is a much debated transportation
issue in Lacey. There has been talk of using
the old Central Railroad right of way (just west
of Route 9) as an alternate north-south roadway.
Another view on this issue is to keep the right
of way in its natural state and use it as a hiking/bike
trail for recreational use. It may be some
time before this issue is decided.
New Jersey Transit operates buses along Route 9,
providing transportation to Atlantic City, Toms
River, Lakewood, and (with a change of buses) New
York City. Lacey is also served by
“OceanRide”, a service funded by the Ocean County
Board of Chosen Freeholders, providing transportation
for the general public, with handicapped and elderly
riders paying a reduced fare.
Township has a large “club” population. It
has been estimated that 60-70% of the population
belongs to at least one club. There are clubs
for seniors (AARP, Old Guard, Bell System Pioneers,
etc.); civic/fraternal clubs (Rotary, Elks Moose,
Knights of Columbus, etc.); children/recreational
(Little League, Pop Warner Football, Boy Scouts,
Girl Scouts, Forked River Tuna Club, etc.); veteran’s
groups (American Legion, VFW, etc.); environmental
(Garden Club, etc.); social/womens (Woman’s Club,
Italian American Social Club, etc.); political (Republican
Club, Democrats, etc.); cultural (Historical Society,
Friends of the Library, etc.); emergency services
(fire companies, first aid squads, etc.); and houses
or worship (Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist,
etc.). Many of these organizations do not
have their own meeting place, and they use the Community
Hall (at the corner of Lacey Road and Route 9) for
their activities. Many of these groups can
be found in the
Clubs and Organizations directory,
compiled by the Ocean County Library.
has an abundance of waterfronts---bay, river, creek,
and lakes. The Forked River State Marina is
located on Route 9, just south of Lacey Road.
There are several township parks and playgrounds,
including the newest one (Gille Park) on Manchester
Avenue, which has a roller hockey rink. Eno’s
Pond County Park is located at the eastern end of
Lacey Road. There are several youth team organizations
(soccer, softball, etc.). Many organizations,
including the Lacey Township Community Education
Department, run cultural bus trips to theaters,
restaurants, Atlantic City, and occasionally overnight
trips out of state. Ocean County College offers
musical and theatrical presentations, as well as
a changing schedule of shows at their planetarium.
The Ocean County Library system offers numerous
lectures, seminars, programs, and author book signings
at many of its locations. There are no movie
theaters or bowling alleys in town, but there are
martial arts establishments, craft and hobby
stores, many restaurants, and several video stores.
Popcorn Park Zoo is located on Lacey Road, about
7 miles west of the Garden State Parkway, and is
home to injured or unwanted exotic, domestic, and
Township has several annual activities. They
have a “Christmas Parade” on the first Sunday in
December, and “Lacey Day” is celebrated in August.
Local clubs, organizations, and businesses take
part in these activities. There is a Miss
Lacey Teen pageant each spring, and a “Night of
Lights” decorated boat parade on the Forked River
on the first Saturday in August. Many of the
organizations have functions of their own (Rotary,
Woman’s Club, PTA’s, etc.), which they publicize
through the local papers, and fliers posted in stores
Township is located equi-distant from
Community Medical Center
in Toms River and
Southern Ocean County Hospital
in Manahawkin. Lacey Center Genesis Eldercare
is a nursing and rehabilitation facility located
just off Lacey Road, next to the Municipal Building.
Spring Oak, on Route 9 in Lanoka Harbor, is
an assisted living facility. Ocean Residential
Group Center is an institution for male youths who
have been in trouble with the law. The
Lacey Township School District
has three elementary schools for grades k to 4,
one elementary school for grades 5 and 6, a middle
school for grades 7 and 8, and a high school.
There is also a private Montessori school for grades
K to 3, and a special education school which also
accepts students from other school districts in
Ocean County. There is also a small number
of home schooled children in Lacey Township.
There are several nursery and pre-schools in Lacey
Township. The Lacey Township Adult/Community Education
Department offers courses twice a year, in the fall
and the spring, and Ocean County College schedules
courses at Lacey High School, and also at its Southern
Education Center in Manahawkin. The educational
history of the township is preserved in the One
Room Schoolhouse, on Route 9, which houses the Lacey
Historical Society. The township has been
helping the Historical Society with the restoration
and preservation of this landmark, dating back to
are 10,580 housing units in Lacey Township. There
are no public housing or apartment units in Lacey---most
residences are privately owned. Some of these
are available for rental through ads in the local
papers, as well as through one of the real estate
agencies in town. The population of Lacey
Township (25,346 according to the 2000 Census) is
comprised of “transplants” from other areas, as
well as descendants of those who lived in Forked
River during the first part of the 20th
century. The population is divided very uniformly
by age groupings, with no group far outnumbering
Township is served by several local newspapers,
which are printed and distributed for the entire
Asbury Park Press
Ocean County Observer, and the
Press of Atlantic City .
Lacey Beacon is published weekly, on Thursday.
The Forked River Gazette is locally owned and operated,
and is published monthly, and is distributed free
at over 125 locations from Manahawkin to Beachwood,
and west to Whiting. It brings club, library,
church, and school news to residents, as well as
feature stories and columns on health, local history,
and municipal happenings. There are 2 local
Soft Rock 92.7 WOBM, in Bayville, and
Oldies 100.1, in Manahawkin. There is
a local television channel (Channel 8), provided
by Comcast Cable, and also WLTH, Channel 21, which
is the Lacey High School television channel.
Local events, news broadcasts, and public service
announcements are televised. Channel 21 also
televises the Lacey Township Committee meetings,
which take place twice a month on Thursday evenings.
by Kathy Lanzim
Branch Manager, Lacey Branch