By Rachel Wintermute
Bordentown officials delivered their annual State of the Township address June 26 to highlight the area’s recent and upcoming developments in business and community events.
The Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Greater Bordentown Chapter hosted the luncheon at Villa Mannino and welcomed Mayor Karl Feltes of Bordentown Township, Mayor James Lynch of Bordentown City and chairwoman of the City of Bordentown Economic Development Committee, Marguerite Mount, to speak.
The three focused on Bordentown’s fortunate development despite the state and nation’s economic lull.
Feltes began by addressing the prospect of a new Amazon.com location in the township.
Feltes said the online retailer has expressed interest in building a new facility in the township and the township is actively “pushing” to attract the business. Though no decision has been made on a definite site, Feltes said an Amazon.com facility would offer more than 1,500 jobs, which would offset job loss from the impending closure of the Ocean Spray factory in Bordentown City.
In his subsequent address, Lynch expressed relief that he did not have to deliver the initial “bad news” about Ocean Spray’s closing that he reported this time last year.
“I can report to you today that we will be fine,” he said.
Lynch said the city is working to declare the soon-to-be-former Ocean Spray 65-acre plant a redevelopment zone. But for those waiting for more information from Ocean Spray on their relocation to Pa. and possible job transfers, Lynch said the wait from the “tight-lipped” company could be another 6-8 months.
Business owners responded positively to the possibility of Amazon.com’s presence in Bordentown.
Mary Barnes, owner of the Hob Tavern in Bordentown City, said she thinks an Amazon.com center would be a great addition to the area in light of Ocean Spray’s upcoming closure.
“It’s imperative that we have new jobs in the city,” Barnes said.
Doug Palmieri of the Old Book Shop of Bordentown said the potential opening of such a large retailer could also help attract more business during daytime hours.
“The one thing Bordentown City lacks is large corporations within driving distance,” he said, emphasizing the concentration of business on nights and weekends.
In addition to the Amazon.com buzz, Feltes also outlined current projects for a new medical and fitness facility, waterfront community, hiking trails and more.
A new 30-acre medical and fitness facility set on Rte. 130 South will feature outpatient medical services from St. Francis Medical Center, a spa, café, interactive educational play area for children and a sports facility that includes an Olypmic-sized pool, Feltes said.
This $50 million endeavor was pioneered by St. Francis Medical Center and former NFL player Kevin Johnson, who orchestrated the fitness center, to be known as Team 85 Fitness and Wellness Center. Construction is ongoing.
Feltes also expressed excitement for the development of the new waterfront community and Southern Gateway Region—formerly known as Town Center, spanning Rte. 130 and Rte. 206—to attract more people to Bordentown.
He said the township is working on reconfiguring roads and traffic patterns to benefit new businesses in these areas without infringing on local residences.
Feltes also has plans to branch off of the existing Heritage Trail hiking system and segment areas with connecting bicycle paths throughout the township.
“As we move forward, we’re looking forward to a great community,” he said.
Feltes announced that Bordentown would not have Independence Day fireworks this year, but he encouraged citizens to participate in the July 4 fishing derby, a day of family activities, a barbeque picnic and fishing.
In his address, Lynch said that although there won’t be fireworks, there is a foundation in place to raise the $30,000 necessary to bring the Fourth of July blasts back next year.
The fundraising foundation, the Foundation for Bordentown Traditions, joins the Downtown Bordentown Association as the second group dedicated to preserving the charms of the small town.
Marguerite Mount highlighted July as Art Month, to be celebrated with visual and performance art. Farnsworth Gallery will host a “Paint the Town” event July 13-15 in which local artists paint and sell their work outdoors. Hob Tavern will also host live music Wednesday and Friday nights and karaoke on Saturdays.
“Great things are happening in Bordentown,” Mount said.