Welcome to PM’s new “Spotlight On” section, which offers a snapshot of a different town in each issue. In this issue we focus on Edgewater.
A Minute with the Mayor
Mayor Nancy Merse has lived in Edgewater since she was six and took the mayor gig to “give back” to her community.
“We wanted development in Edgewater,” Merse tells PM. “All the factories and industry moved out, and everything was going to the dogs. It was getting isolated, and there was no revenue coming in. In the late ’70s we tried to get people interested in the waterfront.
“Hills Brothers had left, and the last one to leave was Lever Brothers. Shipping on the river had ceased, and Edgewater was between the bridge and tunnel. It was hard to get to, and traffic was heavy.
“The Alcoa building was lying idle. It was an eyesore, contaminated, and one developer came in, knocked it down, and built there. Everybody saw the waterfront and that’s where they wanted to be. That’s what put Edgewater back on the map, in the black.”
Before that, she says, “You could have bought the whole waterfront for $500.”
Things “started coming back in the late ’80s and ’90s,” she says, “and we were happy to see the waterfront get cleaned up.” The site known as Quanta is the last one that hasn’t been cleaned up.
In September, Edgewater is known for its arts festival and antique car show.
Mayor Merse’s family emigrated from Ireland. Her father, who worked at the Ford Motors plant in Edgewater, had settled the family in Newark. Eventually they got an apartment in Edgewater.
She was involved in the board of education and was a councilwoman before she became mayor. She took the part-time job after retiring from what is now Bank of America. Her husband had a trucking business. She has three children and five grandchildren.
“I’ve always been interested in the town,” Merse says. “I married here, our kids grew up here. The town has been good to us.”
In this issue, you will find stories about a number of Edgewater businesses. Looking for venues for kids’ birthday parties? Ben and Jerry’s, Edgewater Golf, and Edgewater Multiplex Cinemas fit the bill. We drop in on the wonderfully eccentric Café Archetypus for our “Quixotic” department, enjoy Koi Spa’s sinfully sensual beauty treatments, talk with the young, hip, up-and-coming interior designer Vanessa DeLeon, and dine in the elegant River Palm Terrace.
That’s living on the edge.—KR