Several business honored at Lawrence Township’s annual growth and redevelopment award ceremony


Businesses large and small in Lawrence Township were recognized for contributions toward the economic growth of the township at the Lawrence Township Growth and Redevelopment Committee’s annual awards ceremony.

The Lawrence Shopping Center and the Lawrence Hopewell Trail were among the honorees at the event, which was held on Oct. 23 at the Cobblestone Creek Country Club on Lawrenceville Road.

The Lawrence Hopewell Trail Corp., which has spent nearly 20 years developing a bicycle and pedestrian path linking the two townships, was presented with the Mayor’s Award for Economic or Community Development.

Mayor Christopher Bobbitt praised Eleanor Horne and Becky Taylor, the co-presidents of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail Corp., for their persistence in seeing the trail through to completion. Of the 22-mile trail, only two miles remains to be installed, he said.

The trail has been key in drawing the two communities together through events such as the Full Moon bicycle ride and Saturday morning walks, Bobbitt said.

“Becky and I are thrilled to accept this award,” Horne said. “As we accept this award, we feel gratitude. We are grateful to Lawrence Township for its support. It takes a community to build a trail.”

Taylor said the Lawrence Hopewell Trail is all about friendships and relationships.

“This was not an easy thing to do. We went to people who said ‘yes.’ Lawrence Township, from the beginning, was incredibly supportive,” Taylor said.

The New Large Business Award was given to the Hilton Garden Inn, which is a new hotel on Lenox Drive. The 107-room hotel offers a swimming pool for guests, as well as bicycles that can be borrowed and ridden on the nearby Lawrence Hopewell Trail.

Cafe du Pain, which opened in the Lawrence Shopping Center, was awarded the New Small Business Award.

Small businesses are the backbone of the community, said Joseph Vinch, who presented the award to owner Marie Onyeani.

“It is a great honor to accept this award. I grew up in Haiti and I moved here 11 years ago,” said Onyeani, who earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Rider University. She was a teacher for a few years, but left it to pursue her love of baking.

Opening a new business is not easy, but “I do what I do because I love what I do. This is where I want to be,” Onyeani said.

The Business Service Award went to Amerikick Martial Arts. It is awarded to a business that has made a significant contribution to the business or civic community. Amerikick teaches martial arts such as karate, and helps young people gain confidence through discipline.

The Lawrence Shopping Center, which is under new ownership, was given the New Building/Renovation Award.

Simon Jemal, a partner in Lawrence Shopping Center Associates, accepted the award. He said they have been “warmly received” and that the company is looking forward to new businesses moving into the shopping center.

The Residential Award, which is given to an individual or organization for building or restoring a single-family or multi-family property of note, was given to Gary Hullfish for restoring 48 Phillips Ave. in the village of Lawrenceville.

Hullfish restored the exterior of the building. It is adjacent to the Lawrence Hopewell Trail, which is itself built partially on the former Johnson Trolley Line.

The project offers a glimpse into what life was like in Lawrence Township 100 years ago, said Kate Pollock, who accepted the award on behalf of her father.

The project was dedicated to the legacy of her mother, Lisa Hullfish, who died several months ago.

In addition to business awards, the committee recognizes a business, individual, organization or community group that promotes environmental sustainability.

The Ralph Copleman Environmental Award went to Zagster Bikes, which provides short-term bicycle rentals in Mercer County parks. The award is named for the late Ralph Copleman, who played a role in establishing Sustainable Lawrence.

Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes accepted the award on behalf of Mercer County.

The bicycles are available at Mercer Meadows Park on the corner of Cold Soil and Keefe roads. The Lawrence Hopewell Trail passes through the park.

Hughes thanked Horne and Taylor and also acknowledged Copleman. He was a respected leader in promoting environmental education and sustainability, and was also an avid bicyclist, he said.

The final award, the Podmore/Dwyer Historic Award, went to the Bridge Academy for its installation of three historic markers on the site of its soon-to-be new home on Lawrenceville Road. The school specializes in teaching students with learning disabilities.

The property borders the Little Shabakunk Creek, which was the site of one of several skirmishes between American and British and Hessian troops as the troops marched to Trenton on Jan. 2, 1777 in what would become known as the Second Battle of Trenton.

Bridge Academy Principal Sue Morris said school officials did not know about the property’s historic significance until they were informed of it when they sought approval from the Lawrence Township Planning Board to build a new school on the site.

“What better way to educate students about history,” Morris said.

“They embraced it. We are going to be stewards of history. We will cherish the history of the property,” Morris said as she and several students accepted the award.