In 2006, Hamilton Township was ranked by Morgan Quitno Press as the 18th-safest city in the United States, out of 369 cities nationwide. In the company's 2005 survey, the Township was ranked 15th safest of 354 cities surveyed nationwide.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the township had a total area of 40.31 square miles (104.41 km2), including 39.44 square miles (102.14 km2) of land and 0.87 square miles (2.26 km2) of water (2.17%).
Of the 34,534 households, 28.0% had children under the age of 18; 51.3% were married couples living together; 12.8% had a female householder with no husband present and 31.2% were non-families. Of all households, 26.3% were made up of individuals and 11.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.55 and the average family size was 3.09.
21.2% of the population were under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 25.3% from 25 to 44, 29.6% from 45 to 64, and 15.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41.8 years. For every 100 females, the population had 91.8 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 88.6 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006–2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $72,026 (with a margin of error of +/− $2,663) and the median family income was $87,512 (+/− $2,631). Males had a median income of $58,674 (+/− $3,519) versus $45,661 (+/− $1,733) for females. The per capita income for the township was $32,344 (+/− $701). About 3.5% of families and 5.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.3% of those under age 18 and 3.3% of those age 65 or over.
There were 33,523 households, out of which 31.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.3% were married couples living together, 11.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.4% were non-families. 24.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.58 and the average family size was 3.10.
In the township the population was spread out, with 23.2% under the age of 18, 7.0% from 18 to 24, 29.9% from 25 to 44, 24.2% from 45 to 64, and 15.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.0 males.
The median income for a household in the township was $57,110, and the median income for a family was $66,986. Males had a median income of $46,360 versus $33,673 for females. The per capita income for the township was $25,441. About 2.8% of families and 4.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.4% of those under age 18 and 5.6% of those age 65 or over.
As of late 2005, much of the new residential development in Hamilton has been geared to accommodating the aging baby boomer generation. New retirement communities and assisted-living facilities outpace that of new traditional residential communities. Such construction has been spurred by several factors. The first being that the public is skeptical of growing school budgets due to its already large size. Hamilton voters have often rejected increases in school budgets in their yearly elections to keep already high taxes from growing higher. As a result, the planning board has been reluctant to authorize construction of housing that will increase the student population. Another reason is a series of improvements to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Hamilton. The hospital is now a highly respected source of care in the state. It is situated next to where most of the under-developed land in the township used to be, land that is now home to the active older-adult communities.
As of October 2016, significant construction has been done to further build up the Hamilton Township area. Multiple new retirement communities have been constructed, as well as multiple new restaurants, banks, gas stations and convenience stores along Route 33. Hamilton Township continues to expand rapidly to accommodate the increase in citizens residing in the community.
Parks and recreation
Hamilton hosts one of the largest recreational parks in the state, and borders another. The municipal Veterans Park is 350 acres (1.4 km2) and is housed entirely in the township. Mercer County Park borders the township to the North and encompasses 2,500 acres (10 km2) of land that was shared from Hamilton Township along with neighboring Lawrence Township and West Windsor Township. The park contains Mercer Lake, one of the largest man-made lakes in the state, which was built as a result of a federal flood control project to prevent flooding in Trenton along Assunpink Creek, with gravel removed to deepen the lake basin used as part of the construction of Interstates 95 and 195.
The Grounds for Sculpture is a 42-acre (170,000 m2) sculpture park which houses more than 270 sculptures, gardens, water features, and other nature scenes. The organization's mission is to promote the appreciation of arts and sculpture.
Hamilton Township has been governed under the Faulkner ActMayor-Council system of New Jersey municipal government since January 1, 1976, based on the recommendations of a Charter Study Commission. The township is one of 71 municipalities (of the 564) statewide governed under this form. The township's government is comprised of the Mayor and the five-member Township Council, with all elected representatives chosen at-large on a partisan basis as part of the November general election in odd-numbered years and serving four-year terms of office. Elections alternate in a four-year cycle, with the mayor and two township council members up for election and then the three other township council seats coming up for vote two years later. At an annual reorganization meeting, the council selects a president and vice president from among its members for a one-year term.
As of 2023[update], the Mayor of Hamilton Township is Democrat Jeffrey S. Martin, serving a term of office that ends December 31, 2023. Members of the Township Council are Council President Charles F. "Chuddy" Whalen III (D, 2025), Council Vice President Anthony P. Carabelli Jr. (D, 2025), Pasquale "Pat" Papero Jr. (D, 2023), Nancy Phillips (D, 2023) and Richard L. Tighe (D, 2025).
In January 2020, the Township Council chose Charles Whalen from a list of three candidates nominated by the Democratic municipal committee to fill the seat expiring in December 2021 that had been held by Jeffrey Martin until he stepped down to take office as mayor. Whalen served on an interim basis until the November 2020 general election, when he was chosen to serve the balance of the term of office.
Starting in January 2021, fire protection is provided by a consolidated professional fire department, which replaced eight separate fire districts each of which served a separate of the township and had its own tax assessments. The new combined department operates on an annual budget of $28 million and is comprised of 135 firefighters in four engine companies, two ladder companies and two squad companies.
On April 27, 2012, Mayor John Bencivengo was charged by the U.S. Attorney's office for corruption in the extortion of payments in exchange for influencing the awarding of a health insurance contract for the Township's Board of Education. On June 22, 2012 he was indicted by a federal grand jury on five criminal counts including extortion, attempted extortion, money laundering and two counts related to the federal travel act.
On June 29, 2012, Rob Warney, a former Hamilton Township Director in Mayor John Bencivengo's cabinet, pleaded guilty before US District Court Judge Peter Sheridan to laundering money related to the federal bribery indictment against Mayor Bencivengo. Warney also admitted to accepting a bribe in 2006 in exchange for his vote and influence over a health insurance broker's contract.
On November 19, 2012, Bencivengo was found guilty on all counts of corruption, extortion and bribery. He submitted his resignation effective November 21, 2012. Councilman Kevin J. Meara was sworn in as Acting Mayor, replacing Bencivengo following his resignation.
On March 24, 2013, Bencivengo was sentenced to a 38-month prison term, which he served at a minimum security federal prison at Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. On September 23, 2013, his attorney filed an appeal with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which was denied in April 2014. He was released to a half-way house in December 2014, and completed his sentence while under house arrest in June 2015.
Federal, state, and county representation
Hamilton Township is located in the 3rd Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 14th state legislative district.
Mercer County is governed by a County Executive who oversees the day-to-day operations of the county and by a seven-member Board of County Commissioners that acts in a legislative capacity, setting policy. All officials are chosen at-large in partisan elections, with the executive serving a four-year term of office while the freeholders serve three-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with either two or three seats up for election each year as part of the November general election. As of 2023[update], the County Executive is Brian M. Hughes (D, Princeton, term of office ends December 31, 2023). Mercer County's Commissioners are
Commissioner Chair Lucylle R. S. Walter (D, Ewing Township, term as commissioner and as chair ends December 31, 2023),
Vice Chair John A. Cimino (D, Hamilton Township, term as commissioner and as vice chair ends 2023),
Samuel T. Frisby Sr. (D, Trenton, 2024),
Cathleen M. Lewis (D, Lawrence Township, 2025),
Kristin L. McLaughlin (D, Hopewell Township, 2024),
Nina D. Melker (D, Hamilton Township, 2025) and
Terrance Stokes (D, Ewing Township, 2024).
Mercer County's constitutional officers are
County Clerk Paula Sollami-Covello (D, Lawrence Township, 2025),
Sheriff John A. Kemler (D, 2023) and
Surrogate Diane Gerofsky (D, 2026).
As of March 2011, there were a total of 56,202 registered voters in Hamilton Township, of which 18,266 (32.5%) were registered as Democrats, 10,402 (18.5%) were registered as Republicans and 27,508 (48.9%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 26 voters registered to other parties.
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 57.1% of the vote (23,434 cast), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 41.7% (17,114 votes), and other candidates with 1.2% (510 votes), among the 44,558 ballots cast by the township's 58,973 registered voters (3,500 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 75.6%. In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 53.5% of the vote here (23,658 cast), ahead of Republican John McCain with 43.9% (19,422 votes) and other candidates with 1.5% (679 votes), among the 44,201 ballots cast by the township's 58,979 registered voters, for a turnout of 74.9%.
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 62.0% of the vote (17,434 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 36.3% (10,217 votes), and other candidates with 1.7% (478 votes), among the 29,111 ballots cast by the township's 57,809 registered voters (982 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 50.4%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 47.4% of the vote here (14,234 ballots cast), ahead of Democrat Jon Corzine with 45.0% (13,490 votes), Independent Chris Daggett with 5.4% (1,629 votes) and other candidates with 1.1% (324 votes), among the 29,999 ballots cast by the township's 57,543 registered voters, yielding a 52.1% turnout.
The Hamilton Township School District serve students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. The district is one of the state's ten largest and consists of 17 elementary schools, three middle schools and three high schools along with an alternative program. As of the 2021–22 school year, the district, comprised of 23 schools, had an enrollment of 11,816 students and 969.4 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 12.2:1. Schools in the district (with 2021–22 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are
Alexander Elementary School (with 351 students; in grades K-5),
Greenwood Elementary School (236; K-5),
Kisthardt Elementary School (231; K-5),
Klockner Elementary School (234; PreK-5),
Kuser Elementary School (398; PreK-5),
Lalor Elementary School (317; K-5),
Langtree Elementary School (393; PreK-5),
McGalliard Elementary School (250; K-5),
Mercerville Elementary School (328; K-5),
Morgan Elementary School (276; K-5),
Robinson Elementary School (401; K-5),
Sayen Elementary School (260; K-5),
Sunnybrae Elementary School (275; K-5),
University Heights Elementary School (336; PreK-5),
George E. Wilson Elementary School (418; PreK-5),
Yardville Elementary School (302; PreK-5),
Yardville Heights Elementary School (261; K-5),
Richard C. Crockett Middle School (999; 6-8),
Albert E. Grice Middle School (941; 6-8),
Emily C. Reynolds Middle School (914; 6-8),
Nottingham High School (North) (985; 9-12),
Hamilton High School West (1,447; 9-12),
Steinert High School (East) (1,280; 9-12) and
Hamilton Educational Program (HEP) High School (NA; 9-12).
Eighth grade students from all of Mercer County are eligible to apply to attend the high school programs offered by the Mercer County Technical Schools, a county-wide vocational school district that offers full-time career and technical education at its Health Sciences Academy, STEM Academy and Academy of Culinary Arts, with no tuition charged to students for attendance.
Situated next to the New Jersey state capital of Trenton, and New Jersey's eighth-largest municipality, Hamilton Township is 65 miles (105 km) away from New York City and 35 miles (56 km) away from Philadelphia. Hamilton is also close to most points along the Jersey Shore. By car, Hamilton is about 80 minutes from New York City and 50 minutes from Philadelphia. The train ride to New York is slightly shorter than the drive into New York while the train ride to Philadelphia is slightly longer than the drive into Philadelphia. With nearly 90,000 residents and 40 square miles (100 km2) of land, it offers modern train station and major roads passing through.
Some letters involved in the 2001 anthrax attacks were processed through the United States Postal Service Regional Mail Facility in Hamilton Township. The building was closed for more than four years while it was decontaminated at a cost of $65 million, but an improvised post office was made from tents and canopies in the building's vicinity.
The annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree chosen for 2008 was grown in Hamilton. It was a 77-year-old Norway Spruce weighing 8 tons and rising 72 feet (22 m) that was located off the side of Klockner Road at the Tree King Tree Mart.
^Quality of LifeArchived March 22, 2018, at the Wayback Machine, Hamilton Township. Accessed July 11, 2016. "'America's Favorite Hometown' enjoys a deep-rooted history dating back to 1686, when our community was organized as the Town of Nottingham."
^Mercer County Park Commission - Parks and Facilities GuideArchived 2013-07-23 at the Wayback Machine, Mercer County, New Jersey. Accessed November 7, 2013. "The dam was built to control flooding of the Assunpink Creek to protect certain sections of the City of Trenton. This project turned a marsh into a man-made lake for boating and fishing. This led to the development of the boathouse and marina and eventually the entire surrounding park."
^Timeline, Grounds for Sculpture. Accessed October 28, 2017. "In 1984, J. Seward Johnson, sculptor and philanthropist, envisioned a public sculpture garden and museum in Hamilton, NJ."
^Government Structure, Township of Hamilton. Accessed April 23, 2023. "Since 1976, the Hamilton Township Municipal Government has been operating as a Strong Mayor/Council form of government, also known as Plan E of the New Jersey Faulkner Act."
^Township Council, Hamilton Township. Accessed April 23, 2023. "The Township Council is the legislative body of Hamilton Township. Hamilton's Mayor-Council form of government calls for the at-large election of five Township Council members, who at its annual organization meeting, elect a president and vice-president to serve for a one-year term each."
^2022 Municipal Data Sheet, Hamilton Township. Accessed June 1, 2022. "As of date accessed, Carabelli, Tighe and Whalen are listed with incorrect term-end years of 2024 (should be 2025)."
^Myers, Elizabeth. "Life-long Hamiltonian, Labor Leader 'Chuddy' Whalen Named Newest Council Member", TAP into Hamilton / Robbinsville, January 21, 2020. Accessed June 1, 2022. "Hamilton's Township Council has a new member following a unanimous vote by the current members of the body for Charles 'Chuddy' Whalen, III to fill the vacant seat left when Jeff Martin was sworn in as mayor on January 1. Whalen will complete the term which ends on December 31."
^Shea, Kevin. "5 years in the making, N.J. town’s career fire department a reality", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, January 2, 2021. Accessed January 2, 2021. "The career, municipal fire department is the culmination of five years of work to form a unified, township firefighting force and dissolve the town’s eight autonomous tax-levying fire districts, which each had their own portion of Hamilton. In the old system, everything varied, from response time, manpower and equipment to residents’ tax bills. The process to form the new department, called consolidation, was a logistical issue, political football and constant effort by the town’s two fire unions, which kept the issue a hot topic for years."
^"Corrupt NJ ex-mayor heads off to prison", The Daily Journal, March 14, 2013. Accessed February 27, 2022, via Newspapers.com. "Bencivengo also must pay back at least $7,400 in money he accepted as part of a bribery sting. In addition to his 38-month federal prison sentence, he will also face three years of probation when he is released and must pay thousands of dollars in fines."
^Biography of Bob Menendez, United States Senate, January 26, 2015. "Menendez, who started his political career in Union City, moved in September from Paramus to one of Harrison's new apartment buildings near the town's PATH station.."
^Government, Mercer County. Accessed March 1, 2023. "Mercer County is governed by an elected County Executive and a seven-member Freeholder Board."
^Meet the County Executive, Mercer County. Accessed March 1, 2023. "Brian M. Hughes continues to build upon a family legacy of public service as the fourth person to serve as Mercer County Executive. The voters have reaffirmed their support for Brian's leadership by re-electing him three times since they first placed him in office in November 2003."
^Hamilton Township – Mercer County Board of Education District Policy 0110 - Identification, Hamilton Township School District. Accessed March 6, 2023. "Purpose: The Board of Education exists for the purpose of providing a thorough and efficient system of free public education in grades Kindergarten through twelve in the Hamilton Township School District. Composition: The Hamilton Township School District is comprised of all the area within the municipal boundaries of Hamilton Township.""
^About Our District, Hamilton Township School District. Accessed March 6, 2023. "HTSD is the ninth largest school district in the state of New Jersey.... HTSD is comprised of a diverse group of 12,000 students. There are 23 schools; 3 high schools, 3 middle schools, 17 elementary schools, and 1 special education alternative program for middle/high school students."
^Heyboer, Kelly. "How to get your kid a seat in one of N.J.'s hardest-to-get-into high schools", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, May 2017. Accessed November 18, 2019. "Mercer County has a stand-alone specialized high school for top students: a Health Sciences Academy at the district's Assunpink Center campus. The district also offers a STEM Academy at Mercer County Community College. How to apply: Students can apply online in the fall of their 8th grade year."
^Cuccagna, Rich. "St. Gregory the Great Academy receives national honor", The Times, September 30, 2014. Accessed December 31, 2014. "U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently recognized 337 schools as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2014 based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups, among them Hamilton's St. Gregory the Great Academy."
^Pristin, Terry. "Trial to Begin in Girl's Killing", The New York Times, January 2, 1997. Accessed March 17, 2012. "More than two years after 7-year-old Megan Kanka was abducted from her Hamilton Township home and raped and killed, the trial of the man accused of killing her is about to begin."
^Duffy, Erin. "Hamilton marks 10 year anniversary of anthrax attacks", The Times, October 19, 2011. Accessed April 30, 2012. "By Oct. 18, 2001, the Route 130 facility was closed after anthrax spores were found inside and a handful of workers were confirmed to have cases of both inhalational and skin anthrax. Nearly 1,000 workers were treated for potential exposure, and the Hamilton facility remained closed for nearly five years, subject to dozens of tests and a $65 million cleanup."
^Barone, Michael. "The education of a judge", Townhall, January 6, 2006. Accessed June 18, 2017. "In his opening statement to the Judiciary Committee, Judge Samuel Alito told the senators where he comes from. First, Hamilton Township, N.J., the modest-income suburb of Trenton, where he grew up."
^Mehlman, Peter. "Brestowski, Corcoran Nail Down Titles in Darts", The Washington Post, January 15, 1979. Accessed January 17, 2018. "Brestowski, from Hazleton, Pa., defeated 1975 champion Conrad Daniels in three legs to win the title before 800 spectators in his first U.S. Open competition.... Daniels, of Hamilton Square, N.J., thoroughly emotionless throughout the finals and semifinals, and was similarly stolid after the championship match, accepting his loss with a mildly disappointed shrug."
^Monahan, Bob. "Palmer Star Heads For Hc", The Boston Globe, March 10, 1987. Accessed August 26, 2008. "University of Connecticut sophomore soccer forward Dan Donigan from Hamilton Square, NJ, is one of 43 players nationwide picked to try out for the US National/Olympic Qualifying Team this summer."
^Fisher, Rich. "Gmitter, Pittaro continue families’ proud history at Steinert", Community News, November 30, 2015. Accessed August 16, 2019. "Two of the biggest cogs on this year’s team are also part of Hamilton Township sports royalty.... Her mother, Lisa, is Steinert’s varsity assistant and the school’s all-time goal scorer with 177."
^Pizarro, Max. "Tom Goodwin", New York Observer, August 6, 2007. Accessed January 17, 2018. "Trenton-born Republican Tom Goodwin moved to Hamilton when he was 8.... The 56-year old family man and president of the Hamilton Township Council in 2006, Goodwin is a financial planner who makes the claim, 'I know what a small business goes through.'"
^Fitzgerald's Legislative Manual, 2003, p. 264. E. J. Mullin, 2003. Accessed January 17, 2018. "Gary L. Guear, Dem., Hamilton - Mr. Guear was elected Nov. 2, 1999, and was sworn to his first term in the Assembly Jan. 11, 2000. He was re-elected in 2001."
^Clerkin, Bridget. "Steinert government class leads Hamilton native to White House job", The Times, October 15, 2014. Accessed January 17, 2018. "For Brad Jenkins, that journey led from the halls of Steinert High School to the corridors of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The Hamilton native now is an associate director in the Office of Public Engagement – ;literally the front door of the White House,' he said – finding and inviting various leaders and advocates to Washington to discuss how best to move forward with issues that are important to them, the president and the country."
^Jim McKeown, Mercer County Soccer Hall of Fame. Accessed October 2, 2017. "Joining an ever-growing list of booters from Steinert High School, Jim McKeown’s accomplishments on the field earns him a place among the many greats in the Mercer County Soccer Hall of Fame. A product of the Hamilton Township youth programs, Jim was a three-year performer for the Spartans, leading them to the Group IV title in both 1971 and 1973."
^LoPrinzi, Ann. "Hamilton Square native Karin Miller is back in tennis", The Times, October 16, 2011. Accessed September 17, 2018. "Karin Miller was a tennis phenom from Hamilton Square who learned to play at Veterans Park, then went on to the Bollettierri Academy in Florida, and eventually made her way to a top 100 world ranking and played the main draw of the US Open."
^Fisher, Rick. "Soccer legend Smith returns to his roots", Community News, November 7, 2014. Accessed November 17, 2018. "Smith is arguably the second-most recognizable Hamiltonian in the world next to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito.... And yet the 63-year-old Smith still calls Hamilton home, and Mercer County is lucky enough to have him nurturing soccer youth at the Bob Smith Soccer Academy in Robbinsville."
^Cannon, Kathleen. "Challenger questions Smith on vets' issues", Burlington County Times, October 10, 2004. Accessed February 22, 2011. "As U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-4th of Hamilton Township, this weekend is due to receive an award from the Vietnam Veterans of America, his Democratic challenger, Amy Vasquez of Burlington City, issued a statement criticizing his record on veterans issues."