In his annual “State of the County” address today, Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes said solving the problems that plague Trenton Central High School would be a top priority for the county administration this year. Hughes said his administration would reach out to state and city school officials and legislators to find a solution.
The terrible conditions at the high school have made national news. The 81-year-old school needs countless structural repairs.
“I’m confident that Mercer County can find a revenue-neutral solution that is practical and fair, just as we were able to achieve with the Trenton School District’s Daylight-Twilight School,” he said. “The reality is private academies, charter and parochial schools are not an option for all, so it is our duty to ensure that the 1,900 students at Trenton Central High receive the educational opportunities they deserve.”
Hughes, who delivered his address to an audience of more than 500 business and government leaders during a luncheon sponsored by the MIDJersey Chamber of Commerce at the Hyatt Regency Princeton, said everyone should be working toward the common goal of ensuring that all children have a proper learning environment.
Construction of the Daylight-Twilight High School, which opened in 2008 and provides alternative educational programs tailored to adult students, was funded and overseen by the New Jersey Schools Development Authority. The project co-developers were the Mercer County Improvement Authority and the Trenton Demonstration School Development LLC.
In the speech, Hughes characterized economic growth and the economic outlook for the county are strong. He said Mercer County expects to receive a significant economic boost from tourism dollars generated by a number of events that will bring tens of thousands of visitors to the region this year, beginning with the Feb. 2 Super Bowl in North Jersey.
“Some of the folks flying into the area for the Super Bowl festivities will be using Trenton-Mercer Airport,” he said. “They’ll be staying at local hotels, and dining and shopping here in Mercer County. We’re excited to welcome all of them into our region.”
Other major special events include the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games in June and the Ironman triathlon in September. The Special Olympics, for which Trenton-Mercer will serve as the host airport, is expected to attract about 3,500 athletes, 1,000 coaches, 10,000 volunteers and 70,000 spectators.
According to the MidJersey Center for Economic Development, the event could mean a $116 million boost to the Central Jersey economy.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to show people from all over the United States that when it comes to hospitality, Mercer County is second to none,” Hughes said. “We’re thrilled to be working with the Special Olympics organization on this great event.”
Hughes discussed commercial developments that will create jobs, including the Amazon warehouse in Robbinsville, two hotel projects on Route 130 in Hamilton, the construction of a Costco discount store on Quakerbridge Road in Lawrence, the redevelopment of the Mrs. G’s site on Route 1 in Lawrence, and the renovation of the Ellsworth shopping plaza on Princeton-Hightstown Road in West Windsor.
“Make no mistake, we’re still feeling our way through a difficult economy,” Hughes said. “But there is considerable economic activity taking place throughout the region, and that’s certainly a positive sign.”
Mercer County has a 5.3 percent unemployment rate, third lowest among counties statewide and 2.5 percentage points below the New Jersey rate.
Hughes also highlighted the Frontier Airlines expansion at Trenton-Mercer Airport over the past year, which led the county to renovate its 40-year-old airport terminal. Ewing Township has approved a Parkway Avenue redevelopment plan that paves the way for the creation of a town center near the airport.