JACKSON – Can Jackson become the entertainment capital of the northeast, all while helping taxpayers without impacting neighborhoods?
“My vision for Jackson is to be a destination that’s a great place to live, work and play,” Mayor Michael Reina said. “That is coming to fruition soon.”
This seven-year labor of love, as the mayor labeled it, is the commercial development of Jackson’s Route 195 corridor. It’s what Reina called the five-mile stretch that is Jackson’s future.
The zoning board approved at its April 19 meeting a massive sports complex that will sit across the street from the Wawa on Monmouth Road, Route 537. Included will be an inflated sports arena “bubble”, athletic fields, and food court that will sit on the 75 acres, although some of that land is restricted. The Jackson Township MUA will be working closely with the township to bring water and sewer to that side of the corridor.
Applicant Vito Cardinale told the zoning board the facility will be used for regional and statewide tournaments, sports and recreation. He expects to create up to 250 full- and part-time jobs.
Reina called this project the beginning of the domino effect – in a positive way. Once one person builds, others will build. “If you build it, they will come.”
The proposed sports facility, as well as hotels talked about by contractor Alan Nau, is good news to neighboring Great Adventure, which is striving to become a nearly year-round family destination. Whereas the park was open April through October, its “Holiday in the Park” has stretched its operations through December.
“Six Flags supports development along the Route 195 corridor. Hotels close to the park will provide our guests with convenient accommodations that allow for a multi-day visit. Our property is the largest in the Six Flags family, and with our massive theme and safari park, plus the water park next door, there is plenty to enjoy for a two- or three-day stay,” Great Adventure communications director Kristin Siebeneicher said. “Six Flags Great Adventure is world famous for several of our roller coasters like Kingda Ka, El Toro and Nitro, and attracts thrill seekers from around the world who visit Jackson just to ride these coasters. Should other attractions open nearby, the area will become a vacation destination with more to enjoy. Development that works in conjunction with Six Flags will draw additional visitors to the area. This will bring many new employment opportunities to Jackson as well.”
The corridor is the perfect place to build up ratables that will, Reina hopes, ease some of the tax burden on residents. Taxpayers carry 89 percent of the local tax levy; Reina wants to see businesses that come in take 20, 25 percent of that levy.
Building along that corridor will keep visitor traffic out of neighborhoods. And because there are no homes proposed, schools won’t be impacted. Yes, the township will need more police and firefighters, but Reina said it’s all relative.
“We’re confident the revenue generated will be clean, smart. We have so much to gain,” Reina said. “It’s a win-win.”