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Sparta, New Jersey

Sparta Township, New Jersey
Township of Sparta

Lake Mohawk Boardwalk in Sparta

Map of Sparta Township in Sussex County. Inset: Location of Sussex County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.

Census Bureau map of Sparta Township, New Jersey

Coordinates: 41°03′08″N 74°37′40″W / 41.052354°N 74.62788°W / 41.052354; -74.62788Coordinates: 41°03′08″N 74°37′40″W / 41.052354°N 74.62788°W / 41.052354; -74.62788[1][2]

Country United States
State New Jersey
County Sussex
Incorporated April 14, 1845
 • Type Faulkner Act (Council-Manager)
 • Mayor Gilbert A. Gibbs (term ends December 31, 2013)[3]
 • Manager David R. Troast[4]
 • Clerk Mary Coe[5]
 • Total 38.965 sq mi (100.920 km2)
 • Land 36.942 sq mi (95.680 km2)
 • Water 2.023 sq mi (5.240 km2)  5.19%
Area rank 58th of 566 in state
5th of 24 in county[2]
Elevation[7] 620 ft (190 m)
Population (2010 Census)[8][9][10]
 • Total 19,722
 • Estimate (2012[11]) 19,553
 • Rank 131st of 566 in state
2nd of 24 in county[12]
 • Density 533.9/sq mi (206.1/km2)
 • Density rank 441st of 566 in state
9th of 24 in county[12]
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern (EDT) (UTC-4)
ZIP code 07871[13]
Area code(s) 862/973
FIPS code 3403769690[14][2][15]
GNIS feature ID 0882265[16][2]

Sparta Township is a township in Sussex County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township's population was 19,722,[8][9][10] reflecting an increase of 1,642 (+9.1%) from the 18,080 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 2,923 (+19.3%) from the 15,157 counted in the 1990 Census.[17]

Sparta was organized as a township by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on April 14, 1845, from portions of Byram Township, Frankford Township, Hardyston Township and (the now-defunct) Newton Township.[18] The township was named after the existing community of Sparta, which had been settled and named years before,[19] the name likely coming from Sparta, Greece. Ogdensburg borough was incorporated on February 26, 1914, when it separated from Sparta Township.[18]


Sparta Township is located at 41°03′08″N 74°37′40″W / 41.052354°N 74.62788°W / 41.052354; -74.62788 (41.052354,-74.62788). According to the United States Census Bureau, the township had a total area of 38.965 square miles (100.920 km2), of which, 36.942 square miles (95.680 km2) of it is land and 2.023 square miles (5.240 km2) of it (5.19%) is water.[1][2]

Lake Mohawk (with 8,092 out of the CDP's total 2010 Census population of 9,916 in the township[20]) is a census-designated place (CDP) and unincorporated community split between Byram Township and Sparta Township.[21][22][23] The township also includes the unincorporated communities of Ackerson, Edison, Hopewell, Houses Corner, Monroe, Sparta, Sparta Junction, Sussex Mills, Upper Mohawk, and Woodruffs Gap.


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201219,553[11]−0.9%
Population sources:
1850-1870[24] 1850[25] 1870[26]
1880-1890[27] 1890-1910[28] 1910-1930[29]
1930-1990[30] 2000[31][32] 2010[8][9][10]
* = Lost territory in previous decade.[18]

Census 2010

The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $112,699 (with a margin of error of +/- $6,658) and the median family income was $127,669 (+/- $8,981). Males had a median income of $89,118 (+/- $5,949) versus $60,590 (+/- $5,416) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $50,115 (+/- $3,064). About 2.3% of families and 3.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.4% of those under age 18 and 5.5% of those age 65 or over.[33]

Census 2000

As of the 2000 United States Census[14] there were 18,080 people, 6,225 households, and 5,029 families residing in the township. The population density was 483.5 people per square mile (186.7/km²). There were 6,590 housing units at an average density of 176.2 per square mile (68.1/km²). The racial makeup of the township was 96.7% White, 0.3% African American, 0.1% Native American, 1.4% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.45% from other races, and 1.09% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.54% of the population.[31][32]

There were 6,225 households out of which 44.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 72.9% were married couples living together, 5.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 19.2% were non-families. 16.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.90 and the average family size was 3.28.[31][32]

In the township the population was spread out with 30.6% under the age of 18, 4.5% from 18 to 24, 30.0% from 25 to 44, 26.6% from 45 to 64, and 8.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 97.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.4 males.[31][32]

The median income for a household in the township was $89,835, and the median income for a family was $100,658. Males had a median income of $74,293 versus $39,349 for females. The per capita income for the township was $36,910. About 1.0% of families and 1.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.6% of those under age 18 and 2.1% of those age 65 or over.[31][32]

Sparta has been noted for the high number of pilots and their families who settle in the area. In his 1994 book The Airport: Terminal Nights and Runway Days at John F. Kennedy International, James Kaplan describes the home township of an interviewee as "thickly populated, for no particular reason, with pilots, many of whom do their flying out of Kennedy. The view out [the pilot's] picture window is of trees ... The lights and noise of Manhattan, fifty miles distant, attract flight attendants, single people mostly. Pilots like the woods."[34]


Local government

Sparta Township is governed by a nonpartisan form of government known as Council-Manager Plan B of the Faulkner Act. The five-member Council is elected at large for four-year terms of office on a staggered basis with two or three seats coming up for election every other year.[6] The council chooses a Mayor and Deputy Mayor from among themselves to serve one-year terms of office. The Township Council has the responsibility for all legislative matters.

The Council's responsibilities include enacting ordinances and resolutions, establishing policies, preparing the annual budget with the assistance of the Township Manager and the Treasurer, and levying taxes. Additionally, the Council makes appointments to both the policy and decision-making boards and various advisory committees in accordance with general law and Township ordinances and resolutions.

The council voted to shift its municipal elections from May to November, and voters approved a 2011 referendum that ended a requirement that a runoff election be held in June in the event that no candidate received a majority of votes in the May council election. The first election in which the candidates receiving the most votes won office was held in November 2012.[35]

As of 2013, members of the Sparta Township Council are Mayor Gilbert A. Gibbs (2014), Deputy Mayor Molly Ann Whilesmith (2014), Jerry J. Murphy (2016), John E. Schon (2014) and Christine Quinn (2016).[36][37][38][39]

Federal, state and county representation

Sparta Township is located in the 11th Congressional District[40] and is part of New Jersey's 24th state legislative district.[9][41][42] Prior to the 2010 Census, Sparta Township had been split between the 5th Congressional District and the 11th Congressional District, a change made by the New Jersey Redistricting Commission that took effect in January 2013, based on the results of the November 2012 general elections.[43]

New Jersey's Eleventh Congressional District is represented by Rodney Frelinghuysen (R, Harding Township).[44] New Jersey is represented in the United States Senate by Cory Booker (D, Newark)[45] and Bob Menendez (D, North Bergen).[46][47]

The 24th Legislative District of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the State Senate by Steve Oroho (R, Franklin) and in the General Assembly by Alison Littell McHose (R, Franklin) and Parker Space (R, Wantage Township).[48] Space took office in March 2013, filling the seat vacated by Gary R. Chiusano, who had been chosen to fill a vacancy as Sussex County Surrogate.[49] The Governor of New Jersey is Chris Christie (R, Mendham Township).[50] The Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey is Kim Guadagno (R, Monmouth Beach).[51]

Sussex County is governed by a Board of Chosen Freeholders whose five members are elected at-large on a staggered basis, with either one or two seats coming up for election each year. At an annual reorganization meeting held in the beginning of January, the board selects a Freeholder Director and Deputy Director from among its members, with day-to-day supervision of the operation of the county delegated to a County Administrator.[52] As of 2013, Sussex County's Freeholders are Freeholder Director Richard Vohden (R, Green Township, 2013),[53] Deputy Director Phillip R. Crabb (R, Franklin, 2014),[54] George Graham (R, Stanhope, 2013),[55] Dennis J. Mudrick (R, Sparta Township, 2015)[56] and Gail Phoebus (R, Andover Township, 2015).[57][52] Graham was chosen in April 2013 to fill the seat vacated by Parker Space, who had been chosen to fill a vacancy in the New Jersey General Assembly.[49] Constitutional officers elected on a countywide basis are County Clerk Jeff Parrott,[58] Sheriff Michael F. Strada[59] and Surrogate Gary R. Chiusano (R, filling the vacancy after the resignation of Nancy Fitzgibbons).[60][49] The County Administrator is John Eskilson[61]


As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 13,647 registered voters in Sparta Township, of which 2,393 (17.5% vs. 16.5% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 4,854 (35.6% vs. 39.3%) were registered as Republicans and 6,387 (46.8% vs. 44.1%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 13 voters registered to other parties.[62] Among the township's 2010 Census population, 69.2% (vs. 65.8% in Sussex County) were registered to vote, including 97.3% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 86.5% countywide).[62][63]

In the 2012 presidential election, Republican Mitt Romney received 6,370 votes here (61.6% vs. 59.4% countywide), ahead of Democrat Barack Obama with 3,747 votes (36.3% vs. 38.2%) and other candidates with 188 votes (1.8% vs. 2.1%), among the 10,335 ballots cast by the township's 14,177 registered voters, for a turnout of 72.9% (vs. 68.3% in Sussex County).[64] In the 2008 presidential election, Republican John McCain received 6,462 votes here (59.9% vs. 59.2% countywide), ahead of Democrat Barack Obama with 4,171 votes (38.7% vs. 38.7%) and other candidates with 103 votes (1.0% vs. 1.5%), among the 10,781 ballots cast by the township's 13,490 registered voters, for a turnout of 79.9% (vs. 76.9% in Sussex County).[65] In the 2004 presidential election, Republican George W. Bush received 6,622 votes here (65.8% vs. 63.9% countywide), ahead of Democrat John Kerry with 3,311 votes (32.9% vs. 34.4%) and other candidates with 102 votes (1.0% vs. 1.3%), among the 10,070 ballots cast by the township's 12,537 registered voters, for a turnout of 80.3% (vs. 77.7% in the whole county).[66]

In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 4,694 votes here (65.2% vs. 63.3% countywide), ahead of Democrat Jon Corzine with 1,844 votes (25.6% vs. 25.7%), Independent Chris Daggett with 593 votes (8.2% vs. 9.1%) and other candidates with 37 votes (0.5% vs. 1.3%), among the 7,202 ballots cast by the township's 13,308 registered voters, yielding a 54.1% turnout (vs. 52.3% in the county).[67]


The Sparta Township Public School District serves students in public school for kindergarten through twelfth grade. Schools in the district are listed below (with 2010-11 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics[68])

Mohawk Avenue School

Mohawk Ave was originally the high school in Sparta. Then it became the middle school serving 7 and 8th grade students. It then became a school housing only 5th grade students. In 2012, the school was closed and Helen Morgan and Alpine were rearranged to hold the extra students. In the 2012–13 school year, the building was used only as the board of education building. For the next year the school has been reopened to serve students in PreK and kindergarten. The school is located at 18 Mohawk Avenue. The current principal of Mohawk Ave is Laura Trent. The school splits both pre-k and kindergarten into AM and PM classes.[69]

Alpine School

Alpine and Helen Morgan both used to split the population of students in grades K–6. After that, they were K–4. In 2012, Alpine took grades 3 through 5 as a result of the Mohawk Ave school closing. Now, with the reopening of Mohawk Ave, the grades will be rearranged yet again so that Alpine is grades 1 though 3. Alpine School is located at 151 Andover Road. The principal of Alpine school is Giuseppe Leone and the assistant principal is Peter Miller.[70]

Helen Morgan

Helen Morgan will house grades 4 and 5 for the 2013–14 school year. It is located at 100 Stanhope Road. The principal is Michael Gregory and the assistant principal is Frank Ciaburri.[71]

Sparta Middle School

The Middle school in Sparta was constructed in the early 2000s and has always served grades 6 through 8. It is located at 350 Main Street. The Principal is Douglas Layman. The two principals are Brad Davis and Tracy Rivera.[72]

Sparta High School

The high school was constructed in 1959. In the 2000s, the school was being renovated which forced its students to learn in trailers. It was completed in 2009. Grades 9 through 12 reside in the school. The school is located at 70 West Mountain Road. The principal at Sparta High School is Dr. Daneil Johnson. The vice principals are Steve Stoner and Jannet Ferraro.[73]

Sparta Education Foundation


Sussex County Technical School

Sparta is also home to Sussex County Technical School, a county-wide technical high school.[75]

Sparta Board of Education

The Board of Education officde is located in the mohawk ave school at 18 Mohawk Ave. Dennis Tobin is the Superintendent of Schools in Sparta.

Private Schools


Sparta is home of Hilltop Country Day School, a private school for grades K-8.[77] Veritas Christian Academy, a small private school, educates students in grades 9-12.[78]

Emergency Services


The Sparta Police Department serves the town of Sparta with its headquarters being located at the Municipal building at 65 Main Street. The department is led by the Chief of Police Earnest Reigstad. The department recently purchased four new Ford police interceptors. They join the many Crown Victoria Police cruisers. A police utility vehicle was purchased for the highest ranking officer patrolling at a given time. Sparta also has a dispatching center in which trained professionals deal with 911 calls 24/7, dispatching police, fire, and EMS.[79]

Emergency Medical Services

The Sparta Ambulance Squad was founded on July 11, 1947 by the VFW post #7428. Today, the squad is staffed by a combination of volunteers and paid EMT's. During the day from 6 am to 6 pm, ambulances are staffed by two paid EMTs. From 6 pm to 6 am, Volunteer crews are on call to handle emergencies. If a crew is not found in Sparta, mutual aid agreements exist between Sparta, Franklin Borough, and Ogdensberg Borough. The squad operates three ambulances (4191, 4192. and 4193) and an Emergency Response Unit (4194) with its over fifty members. Sparta Ambulance Squad's building is located at 14 Sparta Avenue. In the last couple of years, the squad has responded to an average of around 1200 calls.[80]


The Sparta Fire Department serves the town, providing fire fighting services along with Vehicle extrication and HazMat Services. The department's headquarters is located at 141 Woodport Road but it also has sub stations on Glen Road and Sparta Stanhope Road.



The Lenape Native Americans occupied the land at the time of its discovery by European colonists. Early Dutch explorers and traders discovered red ores in the area and attempted to mine them as early as 1750, but were unsuccessful in their mistaken attempts to extract copper from the ores. No permanent settlers arrived until 1778, when Robert Ogden built his home and constructed an iron forge on lands he had acquired. The first public building in Sparta was the Presbyterian Church which was incorporated in 1786. Schools were established in Ogdensburg by 1806 and in Sparta by 1812.

Iron, zinc, and limestone supported a mining industry for over 100 years, but today the mining operations have ceased and the township is now a residential community served by retail, professional, and service small businesses. According to the 2000 census, 65% of Sparta Township workers commute to jobs outside of the county.

Mining industry


Robert Ogden settled in 1778 near the present town of Ogdensburg and built an iron forge utilizing local ore from his Ogden Mine on Sparta Mountain. The Horseshoe mine was opened in 1772 by the Englishmen Spargo and Harvey who shipped ore by horse and mule to the forges at Sparta and Hopewell. It wasn't until 1868 that the Ogden Mine Railroad began operations and made it economical to ship zinc and iron ore to Nolan's Point on Lake Hopatcong where the Morris Canal had a marine terminal that could ship ore to Newark. In 1872 the New Jersey Midland Railroad (later known as the New York, Susquehanna & Western) extended to Ogdensburg and captured the zinc ore traffic.

In 1836, Henry Decker, along with Nelson Hunt and Lewis Sherman, began the manufacture of anchors at their forges in Sparta. Their success led to a small industry of forging anchors in Sparta, but by the end of the Civil War the forge industry in Sparta had come to an end.

In 1889, Thomas Edison invested $3.5 million in his Edison Ore-Milling Company to build iron operations on 2,500 acres (10 km2) of Sparta Mountain. Edison hoped to concentrate the mountain's vast quantities of low-grade ore and supply East Coast mills with raw material. At its peak Edison's operation employed 500 people, but after a 10 year effort he abandoned his attempt to compete with more economical ores from Minnesota's Mesabi Iron Range. The availability of the cheap Minnesota ores put an end to iron mining in Sparta.[81]


In 1848 the New Jersey Zinc Company began operations at Sterling Hill. Earlier attempts to obtain iron from the mineral rich ore of the Sterling Hill failed because of manganese contamination, but zinc was recoverable and the ores at Sterling Hill were rich with it.

In 1856 the Passaic Zinc Company started operations at the Sterling Hill Mine and constructed large ore crushers, shipping the ores to the company's plant in Jersey City.

By 1868, both iron and zinc operations were in progress at Sterling Hill, but the numerous companies and claims were embroiled in continuous legal battles, the largest of which was a 12-year dispute between the New Jersey Zinc Company and the Franklin Iron Company over rights to mixed ores, each company having purchased the right to mine zinc and iron, respectively. In 1880 the Franklin Iron Company acquired the New Jersey Zinc Company's operations at Sterling Hill mine, ending the dispute. Large scale operations began in 1897 when the claims were consolidated under the New Jersey Zinc Company and by 1900 its mill was processing 1500 tons of ore daily.

Zinc operations continued until 1986 when the Sterling Hill mine ceased operation. The Sterling Hill mine site is currently occupied by the Sterling Hill Mining Museum and is open to the public for tours.


After closing his iron operations, Thomas Edison recouped his losses by opening a lime quarry near Sparta in 1919. The quarry fed Edison's Portland cement operations, and was in continuous operation under various owners for nearly 100 years until closed in 2003. During the years of its operation the limestone quarry was an important source of employment and tax revenue for Sparta. Limestone is no longer mined, but a limited amount of granite continues to be quarried by a handful of employees.


The New Jersey Midland Railroad opened to Ogdensburg in 1872 for zinc ore traffic, but in 1882 the line was extended to Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania and a station was built at Sparta, giving tourists easy access to the many boarding houses that served summer residents from the cities. Passenger service ended in 1935, but by then Sparta was well established as a summer destination. In 1926, the Arthur D. Crane Company along with developer and designer Herbert L. Closs constructed a 600-foot dam across the Wallkill River to form 300-acre (1.2 km2) Lake Mohawk in 1928. The private resort community created by the Crane Company consisted primarily of summer homes, but the homes began to be winterized in the 1940s and the current membership of 2,600 families are largely year-round residents.

Notable people

Notable current and former residents of Sparta Township include:

  • Greg Baty (born 1964), former NFL player.[83][84]
  • Mike Budnik (born 1974), former professional inline skater, and professional mixed martial arts fighter.[85]
  • Chris Jent (born 1970), former NBA basketball player and current coach.[86]
  • F. Ross Johnson (born 1931), Canadian businessman and former CEO of RJR Nabisco.[87]
  • Jordan Lawlor (born 1992), musician, currently on tour with the band M83.[88]
  • Jeff Lenosky (born 1971), US National Mountain Bike Champion and World Record Holder.[89]
  • Wendy Mass (born 1967), author.[90]
  • Dan Miller (born 1981), UFC Contender, CFFC Middleweight Champion, IFL Middleweight Champion.[91]
  • Jim Miller (born 1984), UFC Contender, CFFC Lightweight Champion, Reality Fighting Featherweight Champion.[91]
  • Troy Murphy (born 1980), NBA basketball player.[92]
  • Gene Prebola, former NFL tight end who played for the Oakland Raiders, Denver Broncos, and New York Jets.[93]



External links

  • Sparta Township Municipal Website
  • Sparta Public Library
  • Sparta Township Public School District
  • New Jersey Department of Education
  • National Center for Education Statistics
  • The Sparta Independent newspaper
  • Abandoned Iron Mines of Sparta, New Jersey
  • Pope John XXIII High School
  • Sussex Tech
  • The Goddard School
  • Veritas Christian Academy High school, Sparta NJ
  • Sparta Education Foundation Website
  • Sparta Train Station Website
  • St Mary's Episcopal Church Sparta
  • Ambulance Squad
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