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Home | About Us | Branches | Little Egg Harbor Branch | Community Profile
Little Egg Harbor Community Profile little egg harbor branch

History  

A "Little Treasure by the Bay," according to the newly unveiled township motto, Little Egg Harbor is both seeking to preserve its history while advancing into the 21st century.

Originally part of Burlington County, Little Egg Harbor took its name from the portion of the bay called Egg Harbor by Dutch sailors because of the great quantities of sea gull eggs found in nests along the shore. Little Egg had its share of privateers, smugglers, pirates and other ruffians that were part of early Jersey Shore history. The first recorded account of the area was made by Capt. Cornelius Jacobsen Mey who sailed the harbor area in 1614.

Early settlers of the township were the Andrews, Falkinburgs, Shourds, Ongs, Willets and Osborns. Edward Andrews settled on the east side of Pohatcong Creek, while is brother, Mordecia, settled on the west side.

Henry Jacobs Falkinburg, Sr. was the first white man to settle in the township. He arrived sometime prior to 1698 and began trading merchandise with the local Indians, securing the properties later known as Osborn and Wills Islands and a number of farmlands. Later, Falkinburg, who could speak fluent Lenni-Lenape, acted as an interpreter between the Indians and settlers in the area.

Within the township are sites where both Archaic and Woodland material has been found that prove that prehistoric man was in the area for over 5,000 years.

Early settlers in Little Egg who did not farm began building boats, getting timber from the surrounding forest for hulls. One of the first recorded ships of the township was a sloop belonging to Thomas Ridgway Sr. John Mathis Sr. was also an early ship owner. His vessel was commanded by his son Daniel and sailed the West Indies routes.

The gathering of clams and oysters was also profitable and it was not long before Philadelphians and New Yorkers were dining on shellfish harvested in Little Egg Harbor.

The township eventually broke from Burlington County and became part of Ocean County, and the Tuckerton section of Little Egg became an entity unto itself.

Little Egg Harbor is famous for two historic sites: the Pulaski monument, marking a 1778 Revolutionary War skirmish; and the location of the former Great Tuckerton Wireless, an 865-foot structure built by a German company in 1912.

Today, Little Egg Harbor Township surrounds Tuckerton on three sides with a land area of 45 square miles. It includes West Tuckerton, Parkertown, Osborn Island, and large developments like Atlantis, Mystic Island, Holly Lake Harbor, Deerfield Park, Tuckerton Gardens, Spring Valley Lakes, as well as a part of Warren Grove.

The township has an elementary school and intermediate school and is home to Pinelands Regional High School and Middle School, which also accept students from Tuckerton, Eagleswood and Bass River.

This year, the Township Committee made strides in establishing the Little Egg Harbor Recreation Complex, which, when completed off Route 539 and Tuckerton Manor, will include baseball, Little League, football, softball and soccer fields as well as a band shell, gazebo, roller hockey rink and passive recreation areas.

Also accomplished in 1998 was the formation of the township Historical Preservation Society. The commission will assess historic properties in the township and help tailor the municipality's master plan in light of these structures to protect them for future generations.

Published in the Southern Ocean Community Guide 9/23-24/98
Times-Beacon Newspapers

Topography

The Little Egg Harbor Branch Library is located on Mathistown Road, a zoned business area one mile east of Route 9. A directional sign is located one Route 9 leading people to the library.

Little Egg Harbor is bordered by Great Bay. A number of the houses in Mystic Islands are situated on lagoons. This suggests an interest in water activities and, by implication, an increased summer population.

This community is zoned primarily residential. Major developments include: Atlantis, Bay Harbor; Bear Hollow; Colonial Terrace; Eagle Bay; Fairway Bay; Harbor House Apartments; Harbourtown; High Ridge; Holly Lake Park and Estates; Little Egg Partnerships; Mystic Islands; Mystic Shores (seniors); Nugentown; Oak Hill; Osborn Island; Park Plaza Apartments; The Sanctuary; Sea Oaks (a senior golf course community); Sunnyside Development; Sunrise Bay (seniors); Tall Timbers; and Tavistock.

Development constraints in Little Egg Harbor include the Pinelands Preservation and Forest Area, which covers about one-third of the total area. Another 16 percent of the township are environmentally sensitive on the bay front, which is under state ownership and control. Despite the large amount of public land, Little Egg Harbor maintains a significant amount of land for development, and is projected to continue its high rate of growth into the near future.

Commerce

Because of the geography of Little Egg Harbor surrounding Tuckerton on the three sides, Little Egg has no real town center. It is part of the town’s Master Plan to develop one near the new MUA building on Radio Road, thereby creating somewhat of a “downtown.”

Business in Little Egg Harbor is primarily made up of small independent entrepreneurs, involved in areas of the service industry, and over the last decade there has been much growth in this area. There are two major grocery stores to serve the almost 16,000 population. There are a number of banks, restaurants, craft and gift shops, and realtors. The majority of local companies are related to the building and construction industries, as well as to the boating and fishing industries.

Community influence from the building/construction industry is evident by the increased number of residential housing units. Little Egg Harbor alone authorized a yearly average of 90 residential building permits over the past decade, with a sharp increase in the last four years (avg. 125/yr.), ranking it the tenth highest in the county.

Owner occupied homes make up 81% of housing units. This is slightly lower than the Ocean County average, which is 2.2% higher. Many of these are apartments, condominiums, and smaller rental homes in the Mystic Islands section of town. Homes that are occupied only seasonally make up 17.1% of the total units. With the growth of the population in Little Egg Harbor, this is a number that is most likely to decrease over the next decade.

The 2000 Census reports that Ocean County saw an increase of 17.9% in the total population, while Little Egg Harbor saw a 19.6% increase over the 1990 Census. This places Little Egg Harbor as the 8th fastest growing town in the county for these past ten years.

Due to the proximity of the area to the Bay, all types of boating and fishing businesses are available to residents and visitors. A large number of area residents own boats for private, recreational use. Therefore, there are a large number of marinas, bait and tackle shops, and businesses for boat maintenance and repair.

Transportation 

The Garden State Parkway is the area's major artery. It provides direct service between major cities and larger towns. Route 9 is the area's principal artery. It is the north/south roadway that connects to other local towns in Ocean County. Route 539 is designated the major collector for the area. Route 539 is an east/west roadway allowing major areas that connects Rte. 9 and the Parkway. In addition, Route 539 collects the traffic from local roads.

New Jersey Transit provides public transportation to the area. The local bus service runs hourly and travels along Route 9 between Lakewood and Atlantic City. The bus route deviates off of Rte. 9 carrying passengers down Center Street to Radio Road and to Mathistown Road, with a stop at the medical facility across from the library, before heading back out to Rte. 9. This provides easy access to the library for people using public transportation. A reduced fare is available to senior citizens and riders with disabilities.

The Ocean County Department of Transportation also provides local bus service through two programs. The Ocean County Area Transportation program (O.C.A.T.) is a fixed route bus service for rural areas of Ocean County. The routes give accessibility to shopping areas, town halls, post offices, and mass transit. This service operates twice a day, Monday through Friday, with the exception of legal holidays. A small fare is required. \

The Ocean County Handicapped Elderly Transportation Service (O.C.H.E.T.S.) is also available five days a week for senior and disabled residents. The purpose of this service is to transport area residents from their homes to nearby hospital and doctors' offices for medical appointments.

There are also two taxi/limousine services in this area: Eagle Transportation and Express Taxi and Limo Service. Both serve the Southern Ocean County area.

Community

There are several organizations in Little Egg Harbor, including social, political and recreation groups. There is the Great Bay Woman’s Club, the Italian-American Club, the Mystic Island Civic Organization (MICA) Club, the Polish-American Social Club and the Sand and Pines Garden Club. Both the Great Bay Democratic Club and the Republican Club of Little Egg Harbor are very active in the community. Sports and recreation groups include the Pinelands Soccer Association, Pinelands Pop Warner Football, the Little Egg Harbor Yacht Club and a very busy Township Recreation Committee. 

Volunteerism in the Township is substantial with the showing of such groups as Great Bay EMS, three Fire Companies, the local PTA, the Police Athletic League, the local VFW, American Legion, and the Friends of the Little Egg Harbor Branch Library.

Recreation and Entertainment

There are a good deal of recreation opportunities for the residents of Little Egg Harbor for those people looking to take advantage of these. This has been an area that the town has worked on improving these past few years. In 2001, a newly constructed recreation complex opened, complete with inline hockey rink, football fields, soccer fields, and will soon finish the construction of Little League and Softball fields. The Township has received approval from the State for the installation of lights so these fields can be accessible both day and evening. It is located off Rte. 539 approximately one mile east of the Garden State Parkway and will soon be a neighbor to a County recreation complex. No date has been set for this as yet.

There is an active Recreation Committee in town. They are responsible for several activities held each year, including Little Egg Harbor Family Day, the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting, sporting event trips (i.e. Atlantic City Surfs), Dinner Theater for the seniors, summer concert series, Earth Day clean-up, Miss Little Egg Harbor contest, and Memorial Day and 4th of July parades. All of these events are free to the residents.

The Recreation Committee is also working closely with the newly formed Police Athletic League. Events they have held and plan to hold include Breakfast with Santa, a Teen Summer Basketball League, and 5th and 6th grade dances.

There is also a committee exploring all the different avenues to provide the residents with a Community Center here in town. They are looking into grants and other funding to make this possible. They have already received an $80,000 Community Development Grant and a resolution has been passed to allow them to purchase land for this project.

In December of 2000, the Little Treasures Playground was completed after months of fund-raising. A committee solicited donations and support from local businesses and individuals. Volunteers handled the actual construction. It is located at Mystic Ball Field where Bay Shore Little League plays.

There is a Senior Center in town located on Radio Road. This building is used by several organizations and various activities are held here, including, Bingo, tax help for seniors, and as a polling location.

There are two golf courses in town, Atlantis Country Club (a county-owned course) and Sea Oaks, which opened in 2000. Sea Oaks is a golf course community for people over the age of 55, but the course and restaurant are open to the public. It is located off Rte. 539 approximately two miles east of the Garden State Parkway.

Mystic Beach is located at the end of Radio Road on the Bay. There is also a beach in Parkertown. Mystic Beach includes Graveling Point, a popular fishing area. Other well-used fishing areas are located on Great Bay Blvd., also known as Seven Bridges Road to the locals. Vehicles can be found parked along this road at various sites where people fish and crab.

Lifestyles

Little Egg Harbor is a growing community which has seen an increase in population of 19.6% over the last ten years, which is higher than Ocean County as a whole, which saw a 17.9% increase. We have a smaller percentage of senior citizens than the county, and the median age of residents is just slightly lower (39.9 compared to 41.0 for the county). Little Egg Harbor is a diverse town as far as age breakdowns go: 5.8% of the population is under the age of five; 14.5% is between the ages of five and fourteen; 5.8% is from fifteen to nineteen; 56.2% are from the ages of twenty to sixty-four; and 17.7% are ages sixty-five and over.

Less diverse is the ethnic make-up of Little Egg Harbor. Over 96% of the population are classified as White, while .8% is classified as Black or African-American. The largest minority group in town is the Hispanic or Latino people who make up 3.3% of the 15,945 total population.

Communication

Area residents read the Atlantic City Press, the Asbury Park Press, the Ocean County Observer, the Tuckerton Beacon, the Newark Star-Ledger, the Philadelphia Enquirer, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. All of these are dailies with the exception of the Beacon. Other papers arrive free of charge in the mail and include the MailBag and the Tuckerton-Little Egg Harbor Leader. Another free paper that residents can pick up at the Library is the Sandpaper.

Local television programming is provided by the Pinelands High School on Comcast channel 21. New Jersey news is provided by News 12 New Jersey and most residents watch the Philadelphia TV stations for news and weather.

There are several radio stations residents listen to for their news and entertainment. Some of these are B98.5 out of Manahawkin, WOBM which broadcasts from Bayville, WJRZ from Toms River, WYRS in Manahawkin, and WPUR (Cat Country) from Atlantic City.

 

Kathy Erikson, Branch Manager, Little Egg Harbor, January 2003

 
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