Topic of merging towns in New Jersey a long debated one

Posted: Updated:

Gov. Chris Christie made national headlines on Election Day for getting into an argument about town mergers with a voter outside the polls.

The voter, a Mendham Township resident, berated the governor for not doing more to force Mendham Township to merge with Mendham Borough.

“I never said I was going to merge the two towns,” Christie told the woman.

RELATED: Christie gets into it with voter, calls it 'joy' of service

But the potential merger of the two Mendhams was an issue Christie used to talk about all the time. He would tell a story at his town hall meetings about being able to kick a football from his home in Mendham Township into Mendham Borough. He said that he could never figure out why the two wouldn't just combine into one.

Mendham Borough broke away from the township in 1906 because the more rural township residents didn't want to pay for street lights and sidewalks. That schism led to duplication of bureaucracies ranging from police departments to schools. 

The idea of a merger has bounced around for years but residents remain divided.

One local deli owner tells News 12 New Jersey that he is against the idea.

“I’m not going to tell you why, but I’ve been here over 43 years and that’s not a good idea,” he says.

But others disagree.

“I think it’s long overdue that municipalities like Mendham Township and Mendham borough consolidate,” Jerry Marcus of Mendham Township says.

Princeton Borough and Princeton Township were the only two towns that merged under Christie’s tenure.

Whether or not the state does more to force or encourage towns to merge will now be up to Governor-elect Phil Murphy.

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