Midland Park, N.J.: A ‘Forever Town’ Where You ‘Buy a House and Stay’

In Midland Park, N.J., a 199-year-old mill that gave rise to a silk-manufacturing industry houses antiques stores and gift shops. The miniature windmill outside the brick municipal building evokes a Dutch heritage still in evidence. Nine houses of worship continue a tradition of churchgoing in the 1.5-square-mile borough.

“I call it ‘the forever town,’” said Patrick O’Hagan, a retired real estate agent and former mayor of this decidedly old-fashioned Bergen County community, who has been a resident for 52 years. “In some places, you see houses turn over every seven to 10 years. But here, people buy a house and stay.”

One consequence is that just a handful of properties are on the market at any given time. Another is that the population of about 7,000 has a multigenerational flavor, with many who were raised here putting down roots.

That appeals to Melissa Quinn, who said that Midland Park — 25 miles northwest of Midtown Manhattan — reminds her of her native Howard Beach, Queens, where she grew up among extended family.

Ms. Quinn, 40, and her husband, Brian Quinn, 39, a Con Edison utility worker, previously lived in a Queens co-op with their two children. When it came time to buy a house, they looked east, to the South Shore of Long Island, before pivoting to Bergen County, where Ms. Quinn’s brother lives. In 2018, the Quinns paid $500,000 for a three-bedroom Dutch colonial in Midland Park. Soon after, Ms. Quinn opened a hair studio within walking distance.

“The schools were our main concern in the house search,” she said. “But I love that Midland Park is family oriented and down to earth. Most of the people we come across are regular hardworking people, not white collar to the point where we don’t fit in.”

Indeed, Midland Park’s median household income of $129,148 is among the lowest in affluent northwest Bergen County.

Amy and Jimmy Fells both grew up in the borough, as did their fathers. They are now in their second Midland Park home, a three-bedroom split-level they bought a year ago for $595,000. The house, which has a family room, office, three-season enclosed porch and “teenage hangout basement” commandeered by their two sons, is twice the size of their previous residence of 20 years.

Ms. Fells, 49, who teaches elementary school in Ho-Ho-Kus, and Mr. Fells, 54, a sewage plant supervisor for the village of Ridgewood, did not consider leaving Midland Park. The small class sizes in the local schools and their short drives to work kept them there. So did the cozy familiarity.

“I can go anywhere in town and run into someone who knows me, who knows my husband, who knows my brothers — it’s comforting,” Ms. Fells said.

Her husband added a good-natured flip side: “Sometimes that’s not great, because everyone knows your business.”

Midland Park is wedged between the larger suburbs of Ridgewood to the east and Wyckoff to the west. Scores of residential cul-de-sacs and an absence of highway traffic — Routes 17 and 208 are more than a mile away — make for an unhurried pace.

Most commerce, including two supermarkets, is scattered along or just off Godwin Avenue, the main thoroughfare. A small business district thrives in the Wortendyke section, named for the family whose textile operations attracted immigrants from the Netherlands. The 1850s Wortendyke train depot, which last saw passengers 65 years ago, now houses a pottery studio, and a bright red caboose has been repurposed as a hot-dog stand.

The borough’s housing stock is primarily single-family homes, with a preponderance of early 1900s colonials, as well as midcentury Cape Cods and split-levels, all on tree-lined streets. House and lot sizes are generally smaller than in Ridgewood or Wyckoff, but fastidiousness is the norm.

“We have our code officers go out, and if your grass is too high and you don’t cut your hedges, we note that,” said Harry Shortway Jr., the mayor.

In a community that has seen little significant residential or commercial development in recent years, this spring’s relocation of the Dunkin’ doughnut shop — from 80 Godwin Avenue to 195 Godwin Avenue — was big news. As for pressing issues, Mr. Shortway said the borough wants the county to lower the 40 m.p.h. speed limit on a stretch of Godwin Avenue, which is a conduit for pass-through traffic.

Single-family homes in Midland Park start in the $400,000s — a price point unavailable in Ridgewood or Wyckoff — and rarely crack the $1 million mark.

“The town was discovered during the pandemic,” said Christine Odell, a borough resident who is a real estate agent with Keller Williams Village Square, in Wyckoff. “People who couldn’t find homes in neighboring towns found Midland Park to be filled with a range of homes with charm, character and style.”

But inventory is low, and houses don’t linger on the market. On May 31, the website of the New Jersey Multiple Listing Service showed six single-family houses for sale, from a two-bedroom Cape Cod in need of updating, listed for $449,000, to a 1960s four-bedroom bi-level on a third of an acre, listed for $849,000.

From May 1, 2022, to April 30, 2023, 64 single-family houses sold at median price of $585,525, virtually unchanged from the previous 12-month period, when 75 houses sold at a median price of $584,000, according to the listing service.

The average residential property tax in 2022 was $12,993, about 4 percent above the county average.

From the daily children’s events at the library to the annual Community Day fair and the Memorial Day Parade, Midland Park is rich with the trappings of small-town suburbia. The parade has special resonance: The borough lost eight servicemen in the Vietnam War, one of the highest per-capita tolls in the nation.

Bringing a tight-knit community even closer is the Midland Park Children’s Love Fund, which helps local families through crises and emergencies. This year, the organization and a separate GoFundMe drive raised more than $50,000 for a family who lost their 16-year-old son in a house fire, said Noreen Desbiens, a chairwoman of the Love Fund: “That generosity says a lot about this town — neighbor helping neighbor.”

With Godwin Avenue leading right into Ridgewood, a major dining destination, Midland Park residents needn’t go far for dinner out. But there are choices within the borders, notably a pair of white-tablecoth Italian spots, Arturo’s and Fiona’s Ristorante.

The public school district enrolls 865 students in three schools: Godwin Elementary for those in prekindergarten through second grade; Highland Elementary for third through sixth grade; and Midland Park Junior/Senior High School for seventh through 12th grade. Three-quarters of the students identify as white; 16.4 percent as Hispanic; 2.7 percent as Asian; and 1 percent as Black.

In the 2021-22 school year, average SAT scores were 563 in reading and writing and 535 in mathematics, versus state averages of 538 and 532.

Parental involvement is a hallmark of the school system, with two organizations — Midland Park Public Education Foundation and Midland Park Performing Arts Parents — raising money for programs.

A private option is Eastern Christian School, which has a Midland Park location for students in preschool through second grade; the other campuses are in Wyckoff (upper elementary/middle school) and North Haledon (high school.)

New Jersey Transit’s No. 164 bus begins and ends its route at Veterans Plaza in the Wortendyke section of the borough. The rush-hour ride to the Port Authority terminal in Manhattan takes about an hour and costs $7 one-way or $199 for a monthly pass.

Many rail commuters use the station in Ridgewood; from there, New Jersey Transit trains reach Penn Station in Manhattan in about an hour, including the transfer in Secaucus. The fare is $9.75 one way or $298 monthly.

Hundreds of Midland Park residents rode buses to Brooklyn on June 15, 1938, to watch the Dodgers play the Cincinnati Reds — not because it was Ebbets Field’s first-ever night game, but because a local boy, Johnny Vander Meer, was Cincinnati’s starting pitcher. Four days earlier, the 23-year-old lefty had no-hit the Boston Bees. Vander Meer did the same against the Dodgers and remains the only Major Leaguer to hurl consecutive no-hitters. The morning after his Ebbets Field feat, Vander Meer ducked out of the family home at 43 Rea Avenue to go fishing. The ball field on Dairy Street is named for baseball’s “Dutch Master,” and the “Welcome to Midland Park” road signs proclaim: “Home of Johnny Vander Meer.”

For weekly email updates on residential real estate news, sign up here.

About Webmaster

Mario Milan Junior ,I'm passionate for the online media and marketing ,19 years old ,first year university .Can't Wait to Join My Father this year in Florida ,United States .

Check Also

Where Do Renters Get the Most for Their Dollar?

Many of the growing contingent of renters would like to know just where their housing …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *