ROXBURY, NJ - The Landing section of Roxbury is on the verge of revitalization and local historian Marty Kane is at the forefront. So if anybody can get away with saying Landing is aesthetically challenged, it’s him.
Actually, Kane doesn’t resort to that type of limp euphemism. Instead, he’s blunt about Landing’s appearance. “If you tried to make an area ugly, you couldn’t have done much better,” Kane said at a recent meeting.
Kane is allowed to be frank in his assessment of Landing’s appearance because the tough talk comes from a guy who seems to really love the place and is enthusiastic about its revival. After all, before you can fix a problem, you need to honestly identify it.
At a recent Roxbury Economic Development Committee (EDC) meeting, Kane spoke about first impressions. He urged the committee members to envision what takes place when a newcomer approaches the Landing Road intersection with Lakeside Boulevard.
Instead of coming upon a beautiful expanse of water and boats, motorists arrive at the southern tip of the state’s largest lake and are greeted with a congested, cramped intersection and grey wall topped with a rusting fence. “You come to Lake Hopatcong and you see chain-link fence and concrete,” he said. “We always felt there were three areas of the Lake Hopatcong area that needed help: Landing, Nolan's Point and River Styx.”
As for Landing - where “there are too many vacancies and it doesn’t have the greatest look” - there are plans for improvement, Kane said. Unsightly or vacant buildings might be removed and Kane is hoping Roxbury and Morris County will help with some curbing and sidewalk repair.
The $800,000 to $1 million restoration of the former Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad train station in Landing is one of several projects that are improving the face of the community and the prospects of its businesses, Kane said. The 103-year-old train station is now owned by The Lake Hopatcong Foundation. Kane is the non-profit organization’s chairman.
The station was once a beehive of tourist activity, a place where thousands of visitors would disembark for vacations on the bustling lake. That type of activity is unlikely to return, but another nearby project, the Landing Park Recreation Complex on Landing Road, is likely to bring hundreds of people to the community on warm-weather weekends. The town expects the park to become a hotspot for softball tournaments, events that sometimes span two or three days and can yield windfalls for local retailers and hotels.
The stores in the 66,000-square-foot Pathmark shopping center on Lakeside Boulevard are among the Landing businesses expected to benefit from the community facelift. The complex is owned by the grandsons of its builder and one of them, Jonah Kruvant, told the EDC that he and his brothers are planning to beautify the property by building a fountain near the road in honor of their grandfather. “We’re excited,” Kruvant told the committee. “He always wanted to have a little fountain there.”
The Kruvants hired a new real estate broker, hoping it will help them fill the vacancies in the shopping center. Members of the EDC urged Kruvant to inform the broker about the upswing Landing is about to experience, including the construction of 160 new homes, described by Roxbury Township Manager Christopher Raths as “the last large subdivision in Morris County.”
Kruvant said he would like to see a diner come to the shopping center. He also said it would be a great place for a “pub and maybe a bait and tackle shop” or other small businesses.
It would probably be a good idea to have your Realtor come in and ask us what’s going on in that area,” said Raths. “A softball tournament, if it goes on for one day, will bring about $50 per person (in spending) and if they stay overnight it will be about $188 per person.”