ROXBURY, NJ – There was a time in the past when a Roxbury resident living in McCainesville might walk over to Drakesville. You can still take that walk, but you’ll be starting in Kenvil and ending in Ledgewood, probably passing through Succasunna, an area your predecessor called Succasunny.
Like many New Jersey towns with histories of changing, and often forgotten, place names, Roxbury is a combination of different named areas with borders that are fuzzy in the minds of many. One minute you’re riding your bicycle in Landing and a turn of the pedal later you’re in Port Morris.
The thing is, you were in Roxbury when you got on that bike and you’re still in Roxbury when you leave Port Morris. It’s a problem facing people currently working on ways to “market” Roxbury Township: The municipality as a whole lacks name recognition.
While many outsiders have heard of the place names - particularly Succasunna and Ledgewood - they often don’t realize those places are part of a township called Roxbury.
Another issue is the way residents of one section might not feel particularly connected with their fellow Roxbury residents in another area. Some Landing residents relate more to the Lake Hopatcong lifestyle (shared by Hopatcong Borough and Mount Arlington folks) than to fellow Roxbury taxpayers living in the section of Succasunna near Flanders.
This presents a challenge for town officials: How are they to acknowledge each section’s uniqueness, even pride, while working toward a united image for the township as a whole? One small way is with signs. At a recent meeting of the Roxbury Mayor and Council, township manager Christopher Raths presented some concepts for signs that would help.
Designed by Custom Sign Source of Succasunna, the proposed signs would tell motorists on Berkshire Valley Road when they cross the invisible border demarking Kenvil and Berkshire Valley. However, the signs would do it gently, assuring the drivers they’re still in good old Roxbury Township.
The proposed signs would be placed on the Morristown & Erie Railway overpass. Southbound drivers would be welcomed to Kenvil and their northbound counterparts would know they’re passing into Berkshire Valley. On both signs would be instructive reminders that each neighborhood is “A Roxbury Community.”
At the meeting, Raths said the font for the word “Roxbury” might be enlarged to further drive home the point. “Similar signage could be utilized on the NJ Transit Bridge in Port Morris if approvals are secured,” said the manager in a report.
At the meeting, Raths indicated he’s been bothered for many years by the way the township’s identity seems to get lost. “We’ve got to get folks to … recognize there is a Roxbury,” he said.
Mayor Jim Rilee said he too has been irked by the issue. He said he’s long suggested there be “one, larger post office” named Roxbury, an idea that never got far.
Raths said he is including the signage idea in the township’s 2016 capital budget “for formal review.”