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The Township of Toms River is a large township in Ocean Countymarker, New Jerseymarker, United Statesmarker, and the county seat of Ocean County . On November 7, 2006, voters approved a change of the official name of Township of Dover (or, Dover Township) to the Township of Toms River, effective November 14, 2006.

As of the United States 2000 Census, the township had a total population of 89,706. The United States Census Bureau's 2006 population estimate was 94,889, making it one of the fastest growing cities in New Jersey as well as the seventh most populous municipality in New Jersey.

What is now Toms River Township was established by Royal Charter as Dover Township on March 1, 1768, from portions of Shrewsbury Townshipmarker, while the area was still part of Monmouth Countymarker. Dover Township was incorporated as one of New Jersey's first 104 townships by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on February 21, 1798. Portions of the township were taken to form Jackson Townshipmarker (March 6, 1844), Union Townshipmarker (March 10, 1846, now Barnegat Townshipmarker), Brick Townshipmarker (February 15, 1850), Manchester Townshipmarker (April 6, 1865), Berkeley Townshipmarker (March 31, 1875), Island Heightsmarker (May 6, 1887), Lavallettemarker (December 21, 1887) and Seaside Heightsmarker (February 26, 1913).

In 2006, Toms River was ranked by Morgan Quitno as the fourteenth safest "city" in the United States, of 369 cities nationwide.

In 2007 and 2008, Toms River was ranked by CQ Press as the ninth safest "city" in the United States, of the 378 cities nationwide.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the township has a total area of 52.9 square miles (137.1 km²), of which 41.0 square miles (106.1 km²) is land and 12.0 square miles (31.0 km², or 22.59%) is water. Toms River is part of the New York City metropolitan area. It is 60 miles south of Manhattan.

While most of Toms River is on the mainland, Dover Beaches North and South are situated on the Barnegat Peninsulamarker, a long, narrow barrier peninsula that separates Barnegat Baymarker from the Atlantic Oceanmarker.

Dover Beaches Northmarker (2000 Census population of 1,785), Dover Beaches Southmarker (1,594) and Toms River CDPmarker (86,327) are census-designated places and unincorporated area located within Toms River Township.

Toms River includes the ZIP Codes 08753, 08754, 08755, 08756, 08757, 08739. Ortley Beach shares ZIP code 08751 with Seaside Heightsmarker, however Seaside Heights is not part of Toms River Township. Manchester Township does not have its own Post Office. Therefore, parts of Manchester use the Toms River mailing address under zip code 08757.

Toms River borders the boros of Lavallettemarker, Seaside Heightsmarker, Island Heightsmarker, South Toms Rivermarker, the townships of Manchestermarker, Lakewoodmarker, Brickmarker, Berkeleymarker and Jackson Townshipmarker all within Ocean Countymarker.


As of the census of 2000, there were 89,706 people, 33,510 households, and 24,428 families residing in the township. The population density was 2,189.5 people per square mile (845.4/km²). There were 41,116 housing units at an average density of 1,003.5/sq mi (387.5/km²). The racial makeup of the township was 93.57% White, 1.75% African American, 0.13% Native American, 2.46% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.95% from other races, and 1.12% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.54% of the population.

There were 33,510 households out of which 31.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.1% were married couples living together, 10.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.1% were non-families. 22.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.62 and the average family size was 3.09.

In the township the population was spread out with 23.3% under the age of 18, 7.2% from 18 to 24, 27.2% from 25 to 44, 25.1% from 45 to 64, and 17.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 92.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.1 males.

The median income for a household in the township was $54,776, and the median income for a family was $62,561 (these figures had risen to $69,141 and $82,137 respectively as of a 2007 estimate). Males had a median income of $47,390 versus $30,834 for females. The per capita income for the township was $25,010. About 4.0% of families and 5.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.7% of those under age 18 and 6.1% of those age 65 or over.


Founding and early history

Much of the early history of the village of Toms River is obscured by conflicting stories. Various sources list the eponym of the town as either English captain William Toms, farmer and ferryman Thomas Luker, or a Native American named Tom. The common belief is that Thomas Luker, who ran a ferry across Goose Creek (now the Toms River). In the nineteenth century, Toms River became a center for shipbuilding, whaling, fishing, and iron and lumber production.

Toms River was located in the southern section of the Township of Shrewsburymarker that obtained a royal charter to secede in 1767 and form Dover Township. During the American Revolution, Toms River was home to a strategically important salt works that supplied colonial militias, as well as a base for privateer vessels that plundered British and Tory ships off the coast. In March 1782, a group of British and loyalist soldiers attacked a blockhouse along the river that housed the colonial militia and captured Captain Joshua Huddy, who was later hanged at Sandy Hookmarker. Also destroyed were the salt works and most of the houses in the village. The incident greatly complicated the tense relationship between the British, loyalist, and colonial and was a factor in prolonging the peace negotiations that were then in progress in Paris until 1783..

The settlement and the river were usually spelled "Tom's River" in its early days, though its current spelling has been standard since the middle of the 19th century.

The village of Toms River is listed on both the national and state registers of historic places.

Mid 19th and 20th centuries

Map of Toms River in 1878
In 1850, Toms River became the county seat of the newly created Ocean Countymarker when it was formed out of southern Monmouth Countymarker. During the second half of the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th, many new towns were carved out of Dover Township, including Brickmarker, Jacksonmarker, Lakewoodmarker and Berkeleymarker. The Village of Toms River attempted twice — in 1914 and 1926 — to secede from Dover Township, but residents were unsuccessful. The part of Toms River on the south side of the river stretching down to Berkeley Township incorporated as South Toms Rivermarker in 1927, but the core of the original village on the north side remains part of the wider township to this day.

Mid and late 20th century

In the last two decades of the twentieth century, the demographics of the township changed substantially, adding over 20,000 residents just in the 1990s. While the village is still the center of municipal and county government, the population in the area exploded in the decades after World War II, due in part to the completion of the Garden State Parkway. Whereas the village was the largest and most densely populated section of the township for over two centuries, the vast majority of residents now shop and work in other sections of the town.

Toms River made international headlines in the 1990s with their little league baseball team, nicknamed "Beast from the East", which competed in the Little League World Series three times in five years, winning in 1998. The Beast from the East defeated Japan by a score of 12-9. Over 40,000 people lined Hooper Avenue for a parade following their victory over Kashima, Japanmarker.

Toms River is also home to many National Champion Pop Warner Football and Cheerleading titles. 1996 Toms River Raider Jr. PeeWee Football team won a National Championship. Cheerleaders from the Toms River Little Indians, Toms River Raiders, and the Toms River Angels (formerly the Saint Joe's Angels) have won many National Titles. The first National Championship title was won in 1993 by the Toms River Little Indian Midget Cheer squad. In 2001, 2002, and 2003 the Toms River Angels brought home national titles resulting in the nations second ever three peat (meaning they brought home three national titles on the same level) In 2005, The Toms River Little Indians brought home 2 more national titles, and the Toms River Raiders won one. In 2006, The Toms River Angels Midget Large Advanced Cheer Squad and the Toms River Little Indians Midget Small Intermediate Cheer Squad brought home 2 more National Titles. In 2007 The Toms River Angels brought home one and the Indians brought back 2 more to add to their history.

In the mid-1990s, state and federal health and environmental agencies identified an increased incidence of childhood cancers in Toms River from the 1970-1995 period. Multiple investigations by state and federal environmental and health agencies indicated that the likely source of the increased cancer risk was contamination from Toms River Chemical Plant (then operated by Ciba-Geigy), which had been in operation since 1952. The area was designated a United States Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site in 1983 after an underground plume of toxic chemicals was identified. The following year, a discharge pipe was shut down after sinkhole at the corner of Bay Avenue and Vaughn Avenue revealed that it had been leaking. The plant ceased operation in 1996. A follow up study from the 1996-2000 period indicated that while there were more cancer cases than expected, rates had significantly fallen and the difference was statistically insignificant compared to normal statewide cancer rates. Since 1996, the Toms River water system has been subject to the most stringent water testing in the state and is considered safe for consumption.

Toms River Township

"Toms River" at one time referred only to the village of Toms River, a small part of the vast Township of Dover that included several other distinct settlements. With the United States Postal Service's adoption of Toms River mailing addresses for Dover Township, coupled with demographic changes in the other sections, those inside and outside began referring to all of mainland Dover Township as Toms River. In the 1990 Census, the census-designated place called "Toms River" only included the downtown village area that included fewer than 8,000 residents in 1990. Due to complaints of confusion, the CDP was broadened to include all of mainland Dover Township to better reflect the more common usage for the area.

In recent years, confusion over the name of the township had become an issue for many residents. A movement organized around the Dover Township Name Change Committee, founded by Mayor Paul Brush and supported by the Ocean County Chamber of Commerce, collected signatures to put a name change question on the ballot in November 2006. On Election Day, November 7, 2006, over 60% of residents voted to approve changing the name from the Township of Dover to the Township of Toms River. The name was officially changed on November 14, 2006. The name change campaign featured the slogan "Toms River YES", signifying a yes vote for the name change.


Local government

Since 2002, Toms River Township has operated under the Mayor-Council form of New Jersey municipal government. The council consists of seven members, four of whom represent one of four wards (sections) of the township and three who are chosen "at-large." The mayor and four ward council members are chosen in partisan elections to four-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with the mayor and three at-large seats elected together and the four ward seats chosen two years later.

The Mayor of Toms River is Thomas P. Kelaher (R), term expires December 31, 2011). Council members are the three Councilmembers-at-Large — John "Sevas" Sevastakis (R, 2011), George Wittmann (R, 2011) and Melanie S. Donohue (R, 2011) - and Maria Maruca (Councilwoman Ward 1; R, 2009), Brian S. Kubiel (Councilman Ward 2; R, 2009), Maurice "Mo" B. Hill (Councilman Ward 3; R, 2009) and Council President Gregory P. McGuckin (Councilman Ward 4; R, 2009).

Federal, state and county representation

Toms River is in the Third Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 10th Legislative District.


Students in grades K through 12 attend the Toms River Regional Schools, a regional public school system (centered primarily in Toms River Township) which is the largest suburban school district in New Jersey, with a total student enrollment of about 19,000 students in 18 district schools. In addition to Toms River Township (14,919 students), the district incorporates the boroughs of Beachwoodmarker (2,202 students), Pine Beachmarker (325 students) and South Toms Rivermarker (830 students).

Toms River Regional Schools includes twelve elementary schools, three intermediate schools which are among the largest in the state, and three high schools, which are Toms River High School Southmarker, Toms River High School Northmarker, and Toms River High School Eastmarker. In the district, there are approximately 6,200 student enrolled in high school (Grades 9-12), 4,400 students enrolled in intermediate school (Grades 6-8), and 8,500 students enrolled in elementary school (Grades K-5).

In addition, Ocean County's only Catholic High School, Monsignor Donovan High Schoolmarker, is located in Toms River.

Ocean County Collegemarker, a two-year college with four-year options in cooperation with other NJ colleges and universities, is also located on Hooper Avenue in Toms River.


Toms River is criss-crossed by several major roadways, including the Garden State Parkway and U.S. Route 9, as well as Route 35, Route 37, Route 70, Route 166, County Route 527, County Route 530, County Route 549, County Route 571.

Two of the most congested roads are Hooper Avenue and Route 37. Route 37 sees extra traffic from travelers to the Jersey shore during the summertime, due to it being a main artery to the shore from the Garden State Parkway at interchange 82.

The township is also home to one of the state's only at-grade cloverleafs, at the intersection of Hooper Avenue and Route 571/Bay Avenue.

The major bus station in Toms River is located downtown, off exit 81 of the Garden State Parkway. The township is served by New Jersey Transit bus routes 67 (to Newarkmarker and Journal Square), 137 (to the Port Authority Bus Terminalmarker in New York City), 319 (to PABT in New York City and the Atlantic City Bus Terminal), and 559 (to the Atlantic City Bus Terminal).

Additionally, the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders operates the Ocean Ride bus line within Toms River, as well as to Brick Townshipmarker, Whitingmarker, Manchester Townshipmarker, Lakewood Townshipmarker, Lacey Townshipmarker, Little Egg Harbor Townshipmarker, Berkeley Townshipmarker, Barnegat Townshipmarker, Plumsted Townshipmarker, Point Pleasantmarker, and Long Beach Islandmarker.

The Central Railroad of New Jersey and Pennsylvania Railroad ended service to the township in the late 1940s. The nearest rail station is the terminus of the North Jersey Coast Line in Bay Headmarker. Service is currently being evaluated to nearby Lakehurst on the proposed Monmouth-Ocean-Middlesex Line.

The Robert J.marker Miller Air Parkmarker, a public-use airport, is located 5 miles (8 km) southwest of the central business district.


Downtown Toms River during Wintertime

  • Toms River is home to many beaches located along the Jersey Shore, including Ortley Beach, Normandy Beach, Monterey Beach, Ocean Beach, Chadwick Beach, and Silver Beach.
  • The New Jersey Chili and Salsa Cook-Off, as well as the New Jersey Ice Cream Festival are held in Toms River.
  • The Toms River Branch of Ocean County Librarymarker is the headquarters of the Ocean County Library system and the largest public library in Ocean County. In January 2006, the recent renovation of the building was completed resulting in a facility that has doubled in size.
  • Toms River is home to the only Indoor Athletic Complex bubble in Ocean County. It is one of the largest in New Jersey.
  • New Jersey's largest non-teaching hospital, Community Medical Centermarker, is located in Toms River.
  • The Poland Spring Arenamarker at the Ritacco Center, a public arena connected to Toms River High School Northmarker, is used for major concert events and small local events throughout the year to raise money for the school district.
  • Toms River Fest, is held during the summer in Toms River, bringing many people from in and out of the area to this large carnival. The festival includes acts by world renowned music artists.
  • Toms River has many shopping malls including Ocean County Mallmarker (the only enclosed mall in Ocean County), and Seacourt Pavilionmarker, located across Bay Avenue from the Ocean County Mall.
  • The 1979 movie, The Amityville Horror, was filmed in Toms River, rather than Amityvillemarker on Long Islandmarker. Local police and ambulance workers played extras. The Toms River Volunteer Fire Company Number One was used to provide the "rain" during one of the exterior scenes. If you look closely, you can see that it is sunny and not "raining" in the background, the next street over.
  • Toms River has a downtown area, Downtown Toms River, which hosts many community events, including festivals and the second largest Halloween parade in the world. The official logo is a 'T' with a river, forming an 'R', through it. The slogan is "Great Places. Familiar Faces."
  • Toms River gained some notoriety in 1984 when local businessman Robert O. Marshall was charged with (and later convicted of) the contract killing of his wife, Maria. The case attracted the attention of true crime author Joe McGinniss, whose bestselling book on the Marshall case, Blind Faith, was published in 1989. Blind Faith was adapted into an Emmy-nominated 1990 TV miniseries starring Robert Urich and Joanna Kerns.
  • Several surrounding municipalities, due to lack of Post Offices, have Toms River mailing addresses, including South Toms Rivermarker, parts of Manchester Townshipmarker and parts of Berkeley Townshipmarker.
  • Home to the Waterhouse Museummarker.
  • Part of MTV's reality TV series "Jersey Shore" was filmed in Toms River during August 2009.

Notable residents

Notable current and former residents of Toms River include:

See also


External links

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