MIDDLETOWN, NJ – Middletown held a dedication ceremony today at Anniversary Plaza to officially mark the spot where a time capsule was buried last year in celebration of the township’s 350th anniversary.
The plaza, located at the Middletown Arts Center at 36 Church Street, includes engraved bricks donated by local families and well-wishers, benches and a commemorative plaque. Installation of the bricks was donated by Whirl Construction. Lemus Construction, Marturano Recreation, and Uras Monuments also helped make the plaza a reality.
“Our town of 67,000 has several centers, but where we stand today is Middletown’s first. In fact where we congregate today is not only one of the oldest continuously inhabited areas in all of New Jersey, but in America,” explained Mayor Stephanie Murray during the dedication.
“The Lenni Lenape, here for 7,000 years, called this place Chaquassit and train station was their pow wow field. It’s where the Europeans came in the early 1600s; where the first town meeting was held in December 1664 just steps away at Old First Church. It’s where residents voted in the streets and took the sides of pirates and defied magistrates, locking then in the basement where Christ Church stands; where people argued, made amends, then celebrated on the ‘Training Day’ of the 1800s; where our generation chose to memorialize those we have lost in tragedy in 2001; where in 2014 we buried our time capsule to be opened on our 400th anniversary in 2064,” she said,
“This is a place where this town came together time and time again, to affirm its commitment to the community. We are continuing this commitment in a very real and tangible way. With dedication of this plaza, we mark this site, commemorating the ageless tradition of people celebrating bonds with each other,” said Mayor Murray.
To ensure the township’s descendants know where the time capsule is buried, a township resolution and plaque to be hung at Town Hall is being prepared.
Anniversary Plaza is one of many projects and programs made possible by the Middletown 350 Committee. The members of the committee are: Tara Berson, Township Clerk Heidi R. Brunt, Recreation Director Janet E. Dellett, Jamie Ferlanti, Tom Garretson, Public Information Officer Cindy Herrschaft, Deputy Township Clerk Melissa Hesler, Chief Financial Officer Colleen Lapp, Public Works Director Ted Maloney, Linda Maresca, Township Administrator Anthony P. Mercantante, Mayor Stephanie C. Murray, Maggie O’Brien, Tony Panzica, Hedy Perna, Secretary to the Mayor Maureen T. Raisch, Library Director Kim Rinaldi, Assistant Director Community Development Amy Sarrinikolaou, Assistant Administrator Jim VanNest, Historical Advisor Peter Van Nortwick, Assistant Recreation Director Mary Beth Wheeler and Assistant Public Works Director Victor J. Wymbs.
More than 50 people attended this morning’s dedication ceremony. In addition to members of the Middletown 350 committee, those in attendance included Monmouth County Freeholders Thomas Arnone and Serena DiMaso, Sherriff Shaun Golden, Surrogate and former Middletown Mayor Rosemarie D. Peters; Middletown Mayor Stephanie C. Murray, Deputy Mayor Stephen G. Massell and Middletown Township Committeemen Gerard P. Scharfenberger, and Kevin M Settembrino; Township Administrator Anthony P. Mercantante, Deputy Police Chief Stephen Dollinger, First Assistant Fire Chief Ryan Clarke, Third Assistant Fire Chief Stephen Schweizer, and Emergency Management Coordinator Charles W. Rogers.
The Middletown Arts Center is accepting donations to add personalized bricks to the plaza. A portion of each donation benefits the Middletown Arts Council. For more information call 732-671-4100.