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Hopewell Township Committee hears from the public

by Cat Jackson

The Hopewell Township Committee met Monday, February 5, to pass a number of ordinances and resolutions, including the declaration of February as Black History Month. This meeting had a large turnout of local residents, including former Township elected officials, who wished to discuss traffic safety and school district improvements.

Traffic Safety

The intersection of Scotch Road and Pennington-Harbourton road is a known traffic safety problem, according to many citizens who came to speak to the Committee on the subject. John Hart was the first to take the stand during the Public Comment section, citing that the danger was long-standing and had led to deadly collisions. He reported that he had been asking for several years that the Township put a four-way stop sign at that intersection. Several other citizens came to echo his request.

Last October, Paris Basile, a beloved 2017 HVCHS graduate, was riding a motorcyle when he was struck by a car and killed at the intersection. Many of those who spoke at the meeting were his family members and friends, and several cited other collisions or near-misses that made them feel the road is unsafe. Committee member Michael Ruger noted that his mother had had an accident at that intersection as well.

Mayor Courtney Peters-Manning acknowledged the seriousness of the request. She said that the Committee could not guarantee a four-way stop, since the intersection is subject to Mercer County jurisdiction and regulation. A speed study and survey of the intersection is currently in progress, she explained, which will help the Police Department determine what safety measures can be put in place. In the meantime, she will work with the Police to find appropriate traffic calming measures.

Currently, the intersection has two stop signs on Scotch and Burd road, as well as lit pedestrian crosswalks.

Black History Month

Resolution #24 of the Hopewell Township Committee officially recognized February as Black History Month in the State of New Jersey. This resolution honored local Black Hopewell Valley historical figures. The resolution encourages all citizens in the Hopewell Valley to educate themselves using local resources:

  •  “If These Stones Could Talk,” a history of the African American presence in the Sourland Mountain area, by Beverly Mills and Elaine Buck
  • The Amistad Commission, an organization dedicated to providing resources to teachers, students, and administrators about the history of slavery in America and the profound historical impact of Black Americans
  • The Sankofa Collaborative, a network of several New Jersey educational groups that are dedicated to sharing resources and furthering the discussion of African American history in New Jersey

Mayor Peters-Manning also drew attention to the Hopewell Parc development. With the help of members of the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum, all of the new streets will be named after prominent Black historical figures from the area.

School budget

This year the Hopewell Valley Regional School District has developed a referendum for repairs. Several members of the public asked that the Township Committee and the School Board review the budget to ensure that there were no frivolous spending. They also brought up the new property development that is being built on Scotch Road, and asked if an influx of new residents might be contributing to the new additions.

Peters-Manning  assured the public that it is her understanding that the improvements proposed by the School District are long-due changes and not because of the new developments. She further stressed that the School Board is independent from the Township Committee, and that their budget is approved by the County, with taxes collected according to that budget. The Committee has no control over those budget decisions.

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