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Historical society outlines plan to preserve South Amboy’s history


SOUTH AMBOY — The president of the city’s historical society is working to advance the goals of the organization for the city’s benefit.

Mary Szaro, who has been the president of the Historical Society of South Amboy since its inception five years ago, outlined the three categories of the initiative, which are designed to protect and preserve the city’s history, during the Jan. 18 council meeting.

She said the first element is incorporating a historical preservation element into the city’s master plan, which is currently being updated. The second is the establishment of a historical commission. The third is a location to serve as somewhere to store and display the city’s artifacts, hold events and be a home base for the historical society.

The society has matured enough, she said, to be able to support and advance these initiatives.

“We now have a steady, stable and committed membership with a long list of success in a short amount of time,” she said.

The society has received generous donations and wants those donations to benefit the community.

However, each of the three pieces Szaro laid out also requires the city to take action. Regarding the first element, Szaro said, the city would need to formalize a commitment regarding the intention to incorporate the historical preservation element. For the commission, Szaro said the city would need to establish the commission and its administrative infrastructure via ordinance. Similar commissions currently exist in most neighboring towns, she said.

She said for the property element, the society’s preference is the location at 415 Main St., which she said is currently for sale. Mayor Fred Henry and council members have said in the past that they had spoken with the county freeholders about whether the city would be eligible for county funding on the project.

“We are all caretakers of the historic future of this city,” she said. “We can’t regain what was already lost, but we can take action to ensure that we will leave a legacy and a promise to all citizens past, present and future that the history of South Amboy is a priority and will now be formally protected.”

She said if these initiatives had been in place years ago, the city might have been able to save artifacts from construction projects, such as the terra cotta stones lost during the construction of the YMCA. She said more historic elements may be uncovered during waterfront development.

“We need to take action now before it’s too late and all historic buildings and artifacts are lost,” she said.

Following her comments, Henry and the council members each expressed their support of Szaro’s requests. Henry complimented the various projects the society has done to date, and said, as a former history teacher, he has an appreciation for their work.

“These are just great things for the city of South Amboy,” he said.

“I’m totally committed to helping you,” Council President Mickey Gross added.

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