Sparta Township is a thriving community situated in rural Sussex County, New Jersey approximately 45 miles northwest of New York City. Sparta covers more than 38 square miles with rolling hills, beautiful lakes, picturesque farms, and inviting residential developments.
Sparta has 11 private lake communities; the largest of which is Lake Mohawk. The Lake Mohawk Boardwalk and Plaza are listed on the State and National Historic Registers.
Sparta was organized as a township by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on April 14, 1845, from portions of Byram Township, Frankford Township, Hardyston Township, and (the now-defunct) Newton Township. The township was named after the existing community of Sparta, which had been settled and named years before, the name likely coming from Sparta, Greece. Ogdensburg Borough was incorporated on February 26, 1914, when it separated from Sparta Township.
The Lenape Native Americans occupied the land at the time of its discovery by European colonists. Early Dutch explorers and traders discovered red ores in the area and attempted to mine them as early as 1750, but were unsuccessful in their mistaken attempts to extract copper from the ores. No permanent settlers arrived until 1778 when Robert Ogden built his home and constructed an iron forge on lands he had acquired. The first public building in Sparta was the Presbyterian Church which was incorporated in 1786. Schools were established in Ogdensburg by 1806 and in Sparta by 1812.
Iron, zinc, and limestone supported a mining industry for over 100 years, but today the mining operations have ceased and the township is now a residential community served by retail, professional, and service small businesses.
Sparta Township is governed within the Faulkner Act, formally known as the Optional Municipal Charter Law, under the Council-Manager (Plan B) form of municipal government, implemented based on the recommendations of a Charter Study Commission as of July 1, 1960. The five-member nonpartisan Council is elected at-large for four-year terms of office on a staggered basis with either two or three seats coming up for election every other year as part of the November general election. The council chooses a Mayor and Deputy Mayor from among themselves to serve one-year terms of office. The Township Council has the responsibility for all legislative matters.
The Council's responsibilities include enacting ordinances and resolutions, establishing policies, preparing the annual budget with the assistance of the Township Manager and the Treasurer, and levying taxes. Additionally, the Council makes appointments to both the policy and decision-making boards and various advisory committees in accordance with general law and Township ordinances and resolutions.
The council voted to shift its municipal elections from May to November, and voters approved a 2011 referendum that ended a requirement that a runoff election be held in June in the event that no candidate received a majority of votes in the May council election. The first election in which the candidates receiving the most votes won office was held in November 2012.
As of 2019, members of the Sparta Township Council are Mayor Molly Whilesmith, Deputy Mayor Christine Quinn, Councilman Jerry J. Murphy, Councilman David Smith, and Councilman Dan Chiariello.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 19,722 people, 6,868 households, and 5,453 families residing in the township. The population density was 533.9 inhabitants per square mile. There were 7,423 housing units at an average density of 200.9 per square mile.
The racial makeup of the township was 94.15% (18,569) White, 1% (198) African American, 0.11% (22) Native American, 2.49% (491) Asian, 0.02% (4) Pacific Islander, 0.70% (139) from other races, and 1.52% (299) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.34% (1,054) of the population.
There were 6,868 households out of which 41.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 69.6% were married couples living together, 6.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 20.6% were non-families. 17.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.87 and the average family size was 3.27.
In the township, the age distribution of the population shows 28.9% under the age of 18, 6.1% from 18 to 24, 21.5% from 25 to 44, 32.4% from 45 to 64, and 11.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41.5 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.6 males. For every 100 females aged 18 and over, there were 95.1 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006 to 2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $112,699 (with a margin of error of plus/minus $6,658) and the median family income was $127,669 (plus/minus $8,981). Males had a median income of $89,118 (plus/minus $5,949) versus $60,590 (+/- $5,416) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $50,115 (plus/minus $3,064). About 2.3% of families and 3.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.4% of those under age 18 and 5.5% of those aged 65 or over.
Sparta is home to a public school system, a parochial Catholic school system, the Sussex County Technical High School, and two independent schools.
The Sparta Township Public School District serves students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. Schools in the district (with 2009-10 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are Helen Morgan School (Kindergarten through 2nd grade; had 649 students in Kindergarten through 4th grade as of 2008 to 2009), Alpine School (grades 3 through 5; had 709 students in PreK through 4), Sparta Middle School with 1,036 students in grades 6 through 8 and Sparta High School with 1,218 students in grades 9 through 12.
Sparta is also home to Sussex County Technical School, a county-wide technical high school.
Private / Religious Schools
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson is responsible for Reverend George A. Brown Elementary and Pope John XXIII High School.
Sparta is home to Hilltop Country Day School, a private school for grades Kindergarten through 8th grade. Veritas Christian Academy, a small private school, educates students in grades 9 through 12.