Wrightstown moving in the right direction

March 21, 2008 3:52:13 PM PDT
In South Jersey, plans are underway to breathe new life into a military town that's been on life support. With its boarded up buildings and abandoned shops, downtown Wrightstown, just outside Fort Dix, is a dilapidated shell of the thriving military town it was during World War I and II.

"Wrightstown sort of has that stigma because of these old buildings but hopefully that'll change soon," Ron Conticelli said.

Change it will. With the start of demolition on 15 vacant buildings along Fort Dix Street, Wrightstown is aiming to change its image with an ambitious redevelopment project.

"We have a vision of a 4 star hotel going in. We've talked to several banks, some restaurants, and some other commercial entities that have shown interest," Wrightstown City Councilman Brian Sperling (D) said.

"We have three developers on line who are ready willing and able to give us a vision of what Wrightstown's future should be," Councilman Brian Sperling (D) said.

Congressman Jim Saxton, who took a stint behind the claw's controls, has been a key figure in this project, including convincing the Pentagon to turn over 47 acres to the borough. He says the downtown has been dilapidated for so long he'd avoid bringing visiting generals through it.

"We had to come either through Wrightstown or around it and we made sure we came around it," Representative Saxton (R) said.

Pizza storeowner Lazlo Fekete hopes a revitalized downtown will mean more tax ratables and more customers.

"Once it's developed it's going to bring in more people because of the businesses," Fekete said.

"We want to see beautiful things in this town and we're taking a step in the right direction," Councilwoman Jennifer Schwager (R) said.

If all goes well, groundbreaking for this monumental project could begin this summer