In 2006, Hamilton Township was ranked by Morgan Quitno as the eighteenth-safest city in the United States, out of 369 cities nationwide. In the company's 2005 survey, the Township was ranked 15th safest of 354 cities surveyed nationwide.
As of late 2005, much of the new residential development in Hamilton has been geared to accommodating the aging baby boomer generation. Retirement communities and assisted-living facilities outpace that of traditional residential communities. Such construction has been spurred by several factors. The first being that school budgets have always been kept low. Hamilton voters have often rejected school budgets in their yearly elections to keep taxes low. As a result, the planning board has been reluctant to authorize construction of housing that will increase the student population. Another reason is a series of improvements to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. The hospital is now a highly respected source of care in the state. It is situated next to where most of the under-developed land in the township used to be, land that is now home to the active older-adult communities.
There were 34,534 households, of which 28.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.3% were married couples living together, 12.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.2% were non-families. 26.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.55 and the average family size was 3.09.
In the township, 21.2% of the population were under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 25.3% from 25 to 44, 29.6% from 45 to 64, and 15.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41.8 years. For every 100 females there were 91.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.6 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $72,026 (with a margin of error of +/- $2,663) and the median family income was $87,512 (+/- $2,631). Males had a median income of $58,674 (+/- $3,519) versus $45,661 (+/- $1,733) for females. The per capita income for the township was $32,344 (+/- $701). About 3.5% of families and 5.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.3% of those under age 18 and 3.3% of those age 65 or over.
There were 33,523 households out of which 31.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.3% were married couples living together, 11.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.4% were non-families. 24.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.58 and the average family size was 3.10.
In the township the population was spread out with 23.2% under the age of 18, 7.0% from 18 to 24, 29.9% from 25 to 44, 24.2% from 45 to 64, and 15.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 91.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.0 males.
The median income for a household in the township was $57,110, and the median income for a family was $66,986. Males had a median income of $46,360 versus $33,673 for females. The per capita income for the township was $25,441. About 2.8% of families and 4.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.4% of those under age 18 and 5.6% of those age 65 or over.
Hamilton Township is governed within the Faulkner Act, formally known as the Optional Municipal Charter Law, under the Mayor-Council plan E system of New Jersey municipal government, as implemented on January 1, 1976, based on the recommendations of a Charter Study Commission. The township's government consists of a mayor and a five-member township council, with all elected representatives serving four-year terms of office. Elections alternate in a four-year cycle, with the mayor and two township council members up for election and then the three other township council seats coming up to vote two years later.
As of 2014[update], the Mayor of Hamilton Township is Republican Kelly Yaede, serving a term of office that ends December 31, 2015. Members of the Township Council are Council President David Kenny (R, 2017), Council Vice President Dennis Pone (R, 2017), Edward R. Gore (R, 2017), Kevin Meara (R, 2015) and Ileana Schirmer (R, 2015).
2012 Mayoral resignation
On April 27, 2012, Mayor John Bencivengo was charged by the U.S. Attorney's office for corruption in the extortion of payments in exchange for influencing the awarding of a health insurance contract for the Township's Board of Education. On June 22, 2012 he was indicted by a federal grand jury on five criminal counts including extortion, attempted extortion, money laundering and two counts related to the federal travel act.
On June 29, 2012, Rob Warney, a former Hamilton Township Director in Mayor John Bencivengo's cabinet, pleaded guilty before US District Court Judge Peter Sheridan to laundering money related to the federal bribery indictment against Mayor Bencivengo. Warney also admitted to accepting a bribe in 2006 in exchange for his vote and influence over a health insurance broker's contract.
On November 19, 2012, Bencivengo was found guilty on all counts of corruption, extortion and bribery. He submitted his resignation effective November 21, 2012.
On March 24, 2013, Bencivengo was sentenced to a 38-month prison term, and is currently serving his sentence at a minimum security federal prison at Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary in Lewisburg, PA. On September 23, 2013, his attorney filed an appeal with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
Federal, state and county representation
Hamilton Township is located in the 4th Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 14th state legislative district.
Mercer County is governed by a County Executive who oversees the day-to-day operations of the county and by a seven-member Board of Chosen Freeholders that acts in a legislative capacity, setting policy. All officials are chosen at-large in partisan elections, with the executive serving a four-year term of office while the freeholders serve three-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with either two or three seats up for election each year. As of 2014[update], the County Executive is Brian M. Hughes (D, term ends December 31, 2015; Princeton). Mercer County's Freeholders are Freeholder Chair Andrew Koontz (D, 2016; Princeton), Freeholder Vice Chair Samuel T. Frisby, Sr. (2015; Trenton), Ann M. Cannon (2015; East Windsor Township), Anthony P. Carabelli (2016; Trenton), John A. Cimino (2014, Hamilton Township), Pasquale "Pat" Colavita, Jr. (2015; Lawrence Township) and Lucylle R. S. Walter (2014; Ewing Township) Mercer County's constitutional officers are County Clerk Paula Sollami-Covello (D, 2015), Sheriff John A. Kemler (D, 2014) and Surrogate Diane Gerofsky (D, 2016).
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 56,202 registered voters in Hamilton Township, of which 18,266 (32.5%) were registered as Democrats, 10,402 (18.5%) were registered as Republicans and 27,508 (48.9%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 26 voters registered to other parties.
In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 53.5% of the vote here (23,658 cast), ahead of Republican John McCain with 43.9% (19,422 votes) and other candidates with 1.5% (679 votes), among the 44,201 ballots cast by the township's 58,979 registered voters, for a turnout of 74.9%. In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 49.0% of the vote here (20,874 ballots cast), outpolling Republican George W. Bush with 48.5% (20,637 votes) and other candidates with 0.7% (376 votes), among the 42,561 ballots cast by the township's 56,332 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 75.6.
In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 47.4% of the vote here (14,234 ballots cast), ahead of Democrat Jon Corzine with 45.0% (13,490 votes), Independent Chris Daggett with 5.4% (1,629 votes) and other candidates with 1.1% (324 votes), among the 29,999 ballots cast by the township's 57,543 registered voters, yielding a 52.1% turnout.
The Hamilton Township School District serve students in pre-Kindergarten through twelfth grade. As of the 2011-12 school year, the district's 23 schools had an enrollment of 12,441 students and 905.4 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 13.74:1. Schools in the district (with 2011-12 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are 17 elementary schools — Alexander Elementary School (grades K-5; 366 students), Greenwood Elementary School (PreK-5; 248), Kisthardt Elementary School (K-5; 253), Klockner Elementary School (K-5; 246), Kuser Elementary School (K-5; 336), Lalor Elementary School (K-5; 264), Langtree Elementary School (K-5; 346), McGalliard Elementary School (K-5; 275), Mercerville Elementary School (K-5; 369), Morgan Elementary School (K-5; 373), Robinson Elementary School (K-5; 387), Sayen Elementary School (K-5; 301), Sunnybrae Elementary School (K-5; 362), University Heights Elementary School (K-5; 333), George E. Wilson Elementary School (K-5; 391), Yardville Elementary School (PreK-5; 298) and Yardville Heights Elementary School (K-5; 265) — three middle schools for grades 6-8 — Richard C. Crockett Middle School (903), Albert E. Grice Middle School (907) and Emily C. Reynolds Middle School (1,099) — And four high schools for 9-12 — Nottingham High School (North; 1,324), Hamilton High School (West; 1,295), Steinert High School (East; 1,500) and Hamilton Educational Program (HEP) High School.
Roads and highways
Situated next to the New Jersey state capital of Trenton, and New Jersey's eighth-largest municipality, Hamilton Township is 65 miles (105 km) away from New York City and 35 miles (56 km) away from Philadelphia. Hamilton is also close to most points along the Jersey Shore. By car, Hamilton is about 80 minutes from New York City and 50 minutes from Philadelphia. The train ride to New York is slightly shorter than the drive into New York while the train ride to Philadelphia is slightly longer than the drive into Philadelphia. With nearly 90,000 residents and 40 square miles (100 km2) of land, it offers modern train station and major roads passing through.
View north along Interstate 295 from South Broad Street. Interstate 295 is the largest highway in Hamilton Township directly accessible within the township; the New Jersey Turnpike, while also traversing part of Hamilton Township, has no exits or entrances within the township.
The New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTPA) is planning to widen the Turnpike (with the "dual-dual" configuration) between Exit 6 (in Mansfield Township) and Exit 8A (in Monroe Township), which may require the condemnation of part of the Richard Stockton Service Area and the Woodrow Wilson Service Area. New entrance & exit ramps would be constructed as well to access the service areas.
The Megan Kanka case, for whom Megan's Law was named, occurred in Hamilton Township.
Some letters involved in the 2001 anthrax attacks were processed through the United States Postal Service Regional Mail Facility in Hamilton Township. The building was closed for more than four years while it was decontaminated at a cost of $65 million, but an improvised post office was made from tents and canopies in the building's vicinity.
The annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree chosen for 2008 was grown in Hamilton. It was a 77-year-old Norway Spruce weighing 8 tons and rising 72 feet (22 m) that was located off the side of Klockner Road at the Tree King Tree Mart.
Points of interest
Hamilton hosts one of the largest recreational parks in the state, and borders another. The municipal Veterans Park is 350 acres (1.4 km2) and is housed entirely in the township. Mercer County Park borders the township to the North and encompasses 2,500 acres (10 km2) of land that was shared from Hamilton Township along with neighboring Lawrence Township and West Windsor Township. This park contains Mercer Lake, one of the largest man-made lakes in the state, which was built as a result of a federal flood control project to prevent flooding in Trenton along Assunpink Creek, with gravel removed to deepen the lake basin used as part of the construction of Interstates 95 and 195.
on the Grounds For Sculpture, located in Hamilton, New Jersey
The Grounds for Sculpture is a 35-acre (140,000 m2) sculpture park which houses more than 230 sculptures, gardens, water features, and other nature scenes. The organization's mission is to promote the appreciation of arts and sculpture.
^Pristin, Terry. "Trial to Begin in Girl's Killing", The New York Times, January 2, 1997. Accessed March 17, 2012. "More than two years after 7-year-old Megan Kanka was abducted from her Hamilton Township home and raped and killed, the trial of the man accused of killing her is about to begin."
^Duffy, Erin. "Hamilton marks 10 year anniversary of anthrax attacks", The Times (Trenton), October 19, 2011. Accessed April 30, 2012. "By Oct. 18, 2001, the Route 130 facility was closed after anthrax spores were found inside and a handful of workers were confirmed to have cases of both inhalational and skin anthrax. Nearly 1,000 workers were treated for potential exposure, and the Hamilton facility remained closed for nearly five years, subject to dozens of tests and a $65 million cleanup."
^Mercer County Park Commission - Parks and Facilities Guide, Mercer County, New Jersey. Accessed November 7, 2013. "The dam was built to control flooding of the Assunpink Creek to protect certain sections of the City of Trenton. This project turned a marsh into a man-made lake for boating and fishing. This led to the development of the boathouse and marina and eventually the entire surrounding park."
^Monahan, Bob. "PALMER STAR HEADS FOR HC", The Boston Globe, March 10, 1987. Accessed August 26, 2008. "University of Connecticut sophomore soccer forward Dan Donigan from Hamilton Square, NJ, is one of 43 players nationwide picked to try out for the US National/Olympic Qualifying Team this summer."
^Cannon, Kathleen. "Challenger questions Smith on vets' issues", Burlington County Times, October 10, 2004. Accessed February 22, 2011. "As U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-4th of Hamilton Township, this weekend is due to receive an award from the Vietnam Veterans of America, his Democratic challenger, Amy Vasquez of Burlington City, issued a statement criticizing his record on veterans issues."