BWS #62 03/29/01


TOMS RIVER - The difference between neighborhoods, such as Whiting, Bayville and Manahawkin, and legally incorporated communities, such as Manchester, Berkeley and Stafford Townships, long has been a source of confusion to visitors and even to many residents. Nowhere is that more in evidence than in Toms River, which is the designation for the official Ocean County seat, an historic village, and a postal mailing address area.

Over the past decade various sources, including a major map company, reported the population of Toms River as 7,524, a figure one-tenth of the population of Dover Township's 76,371 people.

Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari, who is the county's Census 2000 liaison, said it was discovered that the culprit was the U.S. Census. The federal agency defined the Census Designated Place (CDP) of Toms River as being in an around the downtown area.

"At one point in the town's history that was absolutely true," Vicari said, "but over time, Toms River's population has expanded into areas beyond those boundaries. Reporting the area's population as 7,524 was confusing at best and could be misleading when those unfamiliar with the area thought that figure reflected the population of Dover Township."

"When Dover Township officials approached Vicari last year requesting that Toms River' CDP boundaries more accurately reflect how the expansion of the town's population, he worked with the Ocean County Planning Board to petition the U.S. Census to make a change. Since a CDP can not have the same boundaries as a municipality, the county and local officials agreed to request a CDP that would include all of mainland Dover Township. This resulted in the 2000 Census reporting Toms River's population as 86,327, much closer to the Dover Township's 89,706 people.

Noting that the new Census boundaries are statistical and do not change or impact the historical aspect of Toms River, Vican said, "Many economic decisions are based on Census figures. This change will ensure that in Dover Township those decisions will be made on realistic information."

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