Accident snarls rush hour traffic

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Freehold Township police examine the damage done to a utility pole after a car carrier got tangled in a low-hanging wire.

 

By dave benjamin

Staff Writer

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southbound car carrier loaded with automobiles for delivery brought rush hour traffic to a standstill after snagging a power wire hanging across Route 9 and snapping a utility pole in Freehold Township.

Friday evening traffic came to a stop and backed up several miles into Manalapan as rush hour commuters made their way home.

The accident occurred at 4:47 p.m. in front of Fleet Bank and across from the Freehold Mall shopping center, according to Sgt. Daniel Shea of the Freehold Township Police De-partment.

"It was a motor vehicle accident which closed Route 9 until 9:13 p.m.," Shea said. "There was a low-hanging wire, and it caught one of the cars (on top of the carrier) and it pulled all the wires down."

The car carrier is owned by a company called McMillan in Rockaway, according to Shea, who said the accident caused power outages in the vicinity.

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PHOTOS BY JERRY WOLKOWITZ
Wires lay across Route 9, Freehold Township, Friday evening after being pulled down by a car carrier. Traffic was snarled for almost five hours as emergency services personnel worked to repair the damage.

In addition to Freehold Township police, responding to the accident were the state Department of Trans-portation Incident Command, GPU Energy, the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, the Manalapan Police Department, the Freehold Borough Police Department, Bell Atlantic and the Freehold Township Independent Fire Company.

Police Officer George Burge is investigating the accident.

Freehold Borough officials try to get handle on traffic movement in town

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JERRY WOLKOWITZ

A view from the top of the Court Jester, Main Street, Freehold Borough, shows the newly reconfigured Market Yard parking lot and a new office building that will house the Monmouth County Clerk’s Office. Borough officials are conducting a traffic study of major thoroughfares and parking facilities in town to identify current needs and uses.

 

By dick metzgar

Staff Writer

FREEHOLD — The ongoing renaissance and shift of government operations in the county seat in recent years may have caused traffic patterns and needs in the town’s public parking facilities to change as well.

These changes, as well as special events such as summer concerts and Kruise Nites, have caused huge throngs of people to pour into town on certain days.

A traffic study authorized and funded by Freehold Borough, Monmouth County and the Freehold Center Partnership has been designed to identify the current needs and uses of public parking in the borough, as well as changes in the traffic patterns on the major thoroughfares leading into town, according to Joseph B. Bellina, the borough’s administrator.

The traffic analysis, to be conducted by Abbington Associates, Freehold Township, will cost $23,000.

"This is a follow-up on a similar study that was done in 1989," Bellina said.

The study will pinpoint public parking facilities including the Market Yard; the Broad Street-Court Street parking lot; the Triangle parking lot which is bordered by West Main, Throckmorton and South streets; and county parking facilities on Lafayette Street.

Various physical improvements have been made to some of the parking facilities in recent years.

A major restructuring was undertaken at the Market Yard in late 1999, including repaving and restructuring the parking lot. Some final touches are expected to be completed at that facility in the near future, according to Bellina.

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JERRY WOLKOWITZ The intersection of Main, Court and South streets is one of the areas being looked at during a traffic study of Freehold Borough.

The borough has reapplied for state aid to help complete a walkway which was built along the rear of the businesses which front on West Main Street, Bellina said. This would include placing bricks in the walkway.

Part of the cleanup of the Market Yard will also include the installation of decorative lighting, Bellina said.

Bellina said meetings with the Borough Council, Mayor Michael Wilson and the partnership have led to a plan for time limits for the Market Yard’s parking spaces.

There will be a number of one-hour spots, two-hour spots, some five-hour parking spots and spaces reserved for the handicapped. There will also be a number of spaces allotted for permit parking which permit holders can use all 24 hours.

"We expect to introduce an ordinance soon codifying the parking spaces in the Market Yard," Bellina said.

The Broad Street-Court Street parking lot was completely restructured and restriped in the mid-1990s.

The Triangle parking lot was constructed in 1985.

Jayne Carr, the partnership’s business advocate, said the move of county employees from one location to another has caused a rethinking of parking plans for the near future.

"There has been a massive shift of existing county employees to the new office buildings on Mechanic Street bordering the Market Yard," Carr said. "The county probation office is already operating out of one of the buildings, while the clerk’s office is expected to move into the second building in the near future.

"This shift will have an impact on parking in the borough, especially in the Market Yard," Carr said. "We have to come up with a new game plan for our parking facilities. We need to have an idea of where people are coming from and where they are going in our downtown area."

Bellina said the traffic study could take from 60 to 90 days.

"We have to know how long people are staying in town and what they are using the parking for — retail, office or restaurants."

Rezoning drops site from affordable housing plan

Council acts on one of five ordinances

By Bob Fleming

Staff Writer

MARLBORO — Following a raucous three-hour hearing during which residents addressed only one of five proposed re-zoning ordinances, Township Council members voted unanimously to adopt the ordinance without any public discussion.

Approximately 250 residents attended Thursday’s council meeting at the Marl-boro Middle School expecting to voice their objections to the various rezoning ordinances during five separate public hearings on the agenda items.

At the start of the meeting, Stephanie Luftglass, the township’s public information officer, and Fred Raffetto, Marlboro’s special counsel regarding its affordable housing plan, presented the council and the public with an historical account of Marlboro’s involvement with the state Council on Affordable Housing (COAH).

Luftglass traced the litigation commencing prior to 1985 involving the township and several builders seeking a "builder’s remedy" to rezone properties to permit the construction of new housing, with a 20 percent set aside for low- and moderate-income housing. The developers were seeking a 4:1 or 5:1 ratio of regular market units for each affordable unit.

"Under the terms of the 1985 consent order the township’s affordable housing obligation was initially established at 680 units through 1991," Luftglass said. "Following the extension of a period of repose and immunity from any additional litigation, Marlboro, as well as the region, experienced significant population growth, which resulted in the township’s fair share housing being increased to 1,056 units."

Raffetto said approximately 372 of the 680 affordable housing units were transferred out of Marlboro through Regional Contribution Agreements (RCA) with other municipalities. Those municipalities agreed to provide for the units within their boundaries in exchange for a monetary payment from Marlboro to transfer those units.

According to Luftglass and Raffetto, the township applied to COAH in 1995 for substantive certification of its affordable housing plan. Marlboro was notified by COAH in 1998 that its fair share plan would need to be amended based on the number of amendments made to the plan since its origination.

The Planning Board adopted an amended fair housing plan in August 1998 and the council repetitioned COAH for substantive certification, Luftglass said.

Following that action, four objectors to the amended plan contacted COAH for redress of certain elements of the plan. Mediation sessions were then conducted for more than a year to resolve the objections to Marlboro’s affordable housing plan, she added.

"The proposed rezones and the new affordable housing numbers will permit Marlboro to amend its plan in order to achieve a six-year period of immunity and meet its affordable housing obligation," Luftglass said.

Council President Steven Gustman called for a vote from council members to open the public hearing on the first of five rezoning ordinances, that of a 20-acre tract of land known as Rosewood, near Route 79 and Tennent Road.

Under the terms of the 1995 fair housing plan, 178 residential units, with a 40-unit affordable housing set-aside, was planned for Rosewood, according to township officials.

The rezoning ordinance now calls for the current multi-family development zone to be returned to an R-60 zone, permitting 13 single-family homes to be built on the site, with no affordable housing units to be located there.

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esidents waited their turn at the microphone to voice their objections to that particular ordinance, which many acknowledged was an upzoning of that property, at the expense of downzoning other properties within a 2-mile radius in the Morganville section, to meet COAH requirements.

Controversy ensued when several residents asked if the subject property, Rose-wood, was a contaminated site.

Township Engineer William Schultz said based on a Phase I report, which he likened to a walk-through of the property, it could be concluded that the Rosewood site was contaminated.

"How can you vote on rezoning a site and allow for 13 units there if it is contaminated?" asked Susan Grossman, of Perry Street.

Steven Lang, of Perry Street, asked the council not to rezone the Rosewood property and received no response to his request.

"The perception is that this is a done deal," Lang said. "We’re not even getting an open hearing."

However, Matthew J. Cavaliere, the attorney representing the owners of Rosewood and Valley Brook Meadows, an adjacent property also subject to a rezoning ordinance on the meeting agenda, said there was no contamination on the property .

"Developer Anthony Spalliero was the contract purchaser of the property who applied for zone changes and intended to sell the property to another developer be-fore he backed out of the sale," Cavaliere said. "My clients obtained a Phase II report, which is a comprehensive environmental study of the property, which substantiates that there is no contamination there."

Cavaliere informed the council that he represented the property owners in litigation against the township in 1997 and 1998 that resulted in an out-of-court-settlement.

"I’m irate you’re not aware that the settlement states these properties cannot be rezoned without permission from Superior Court or approval from COAH," Cavaliere said. "To the extent that the township has not received these approvals, to rezone these properties amounts to breaking the law."

Gustman called for a brief recess, followed by a return to the public hearing.

Fran Szczesny, the president of a residents group known as Citizens Against Political Exploitation (CAPE), addressed the council regarding what she said was the appearance of impropriety of having the township attorney, state Sen. John O. Bennett III, representing Marlboro at the COAH mediation sessions when he re-ceived campaign contributions from de-velopers Spalliero and Michael Weitz, both of whom are objectors to the township’s affordable housing plan.

Bennett was absent from the dais during Szczesny’s remarks.

She urged the council to seek indepen-dent legal counsel on the COAH matters to remove any appearance of impropriety.

Attorney Dominic Manco, a member of Bennett’s law firm, replied that the mediation sessions were conducted in a proper manner and independent counsel had been obtained during the second round of mediation sessions regarding the township’s affordable housing plan.

Bennett was unavailable for comment on Szczesny’s allegations at press time Monday.

"If you adopt these ordinances there will be litigation again," Szczesny said. "Mr. Spalliero’s objections to the contamination of the property was a charade and renders his objection as invalid."

Spalliero, who was seated in the audience, shouted to Szczesny after she re-turned to her seat, "Sit down; the election

Freehold business gains third-generation operator

David Fisher joins father, Barry, at Ace Aluminum

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Gustave Fisher

 

By dick metzgar

Staff Writer

FREEHOLD — Few third-generation enterprises that have evolved since World War II have been more involved with the renaissance of the county seat’s downtown business district than Ace Aluminum on the South Street side of the Market Yard.

The firm’s president, Barry Fisher, 56, of Marlboro, as was his father before him, and as his son, David, 26, is expected to be, have been key players in attempting to improve the business atmosphere in downtown Freehold.

Gustave Fisher, who started the business in the early 1950s, was born in Austria, emigrated to England and then to Brooklyn, N.Y., in the mid-1940s, before arriving in the Freehold area.

"My father was actually an accountant with Brooklyn Jewish Hospital," Barry Fisher recalled in a recent conversation. "Then he became involved in the home improvement business with an uncle in Long Island."

It was not long before the elder Fisher moved to Western Monmouth County, where he started an egg farm on Robertsville Road in Freehold Township.

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JERRY WOLKOWITZ
Barry Fisher and his son, David, talk with a customer at Ace Aluminum Products, Freehold Borough. David, the firm’s vice president, is the latest family member to join the business. Barry Fisher is president of the company that his father, Gustave, founded in the 1950s.

"The farm was not doing well," Fisher said. "My father discovered that line of business was for the birds, and he got out of it."

In the early 1950s, Gustave Fisher got involved in the home improvement business, opening a store on South Street in the vicinity of where Freehold Glass is now located. Family members were part of the business, according to his son.

"My father started by selling to local farmers such things as storm windows and doors," Fisher said. "We eventually moved to our current location in the Market Yard in 1962. I became a partner in the business in the 1960s. The business started as Ace Home Improvements and later was changed to our current name, Ace Aluminum Products. Although a lot of products are not aluminum now, we have kept the name Ace Aluminum because that is what people have always known us as."

Barry said his father, who died in 1977 at the age of 74, got into the business at the right time and business flourished right from the beginning.

"By the 1950s, aluminum was the big thing in siding for buildings, and my father was right there with the product," Fisher said

He recalls that his father was one of the movers and shakers in the town’s business development in the 1960s as a member of a downtown merchants organization.

"My father was a proponent of the Urban Renewal Program, a federal program during the 1960s," Fisher said. "It almost became a reality but was narrowly defeated by the Borough Council. It would have had an impact on Market Yard and Mechanic Street businesses, right in the vicinity of where our business is located."

In the 1980s, Barry Fisher followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming actively involved with business development in the downtown area. In the mid-1980s, Fisher became a member of the now-defunct Economic Development Committee, an advisory body to the council.

Fisher and other members of the committee, including James Mancini and Paul DeJesse, developed proposals to help alleviate parking problems in the downtown area. Their proposals would have included the creation of an indoor parking facility, although that never materialized.

When downtown business operators Jeff Jones and John Ballew began mustering key local business operators to form the Freehold Center Partnership to address problems in the downtown area, Fisher was one of the first to jump aboard.

Through the partnership’s efforts, a Special Improvement District was created and implemented in 1992 to oversee activities in the downtown area.

Now, David Fisher has joined his father in the family business as vice president of Ace Aluminum.

Like his grandfather, David is an accountant.

Before joining the family business in January, David had been working with an accounting firm in New York City. While he still lives in Manhattan and commutes to Freehold, he said he plans to relocate to this area in the near future.

David, who grew up in Marlboro, attended Rutgers Prep in Somerset and graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, with a bachelor of science degree in accounting.

His specialty in the business will be developing computer programs which will be geared toward designing home im-provements for customers using company products.

In becoming the third generation of his family to join Ace Aluminum, David will help launch the family business into the 21st century with the latest technology.

Hudson Manor hopes to add

on-site convenience store

FREEHOLD — Hudson Manor officials want to make the senior citizens complex at 40 Hudson St. even more convenient for its residents.

Representatives of Hudson Manor are scheduled to appear before the zoning board at its March 28 meeting seeking approval for a proposal that would add a convenience store; a one-story addition to the building’s recreation room; and more parking spaces at the rear of the facility, according to Kerry Higgins, attorney for the Senior Citizens Housing Corp., which oversees the operation.

Hailed as one of the finest senior citizens complexes in the region when it was completed in 1979, Hudson Manor celebrated its 20th anniversary last September with a gala event.

The 164-unit apartment complex for senior citizens and disabled people sits on the site of the borough’s old Hudson Street School, which was razed to make way for the six-story Hudson Manor.

A variance from the zoning board is needed in order for the proposed additions and improvements to be completed because a store is not permitted in that zone and because a portion of the addition to the recreation area will be on property that is currently zoned residential, Higgins said.

The convenience store would be on the ground floor in a kitchen area, she said.

"The kitchen is really not used that much since the apartments in the building have their own kitchens," Higgins said. "That area would be converted into a small convenience store where the residents could buy basic staples" such as bread, milk, eggs and other items that such stores normally carry.

Plans call for a 1,500-square-foot store — 30 by 50 feet — Higgins said. The one-story, 25- by 62-foot addition to the recreation area would be on the west side of the current facility behind the solarium, which is on the Hudson Street side of the building.

Higgins said the proposal also calls for revamping a parking lot along the Center Street side, increasing the number of parking spots from 66 to 86.

In 1979, the $6 million Hudson Manor project was financed through the state House Finance Agency. The rents are determined and subsidized through the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Rents are based on a prospective tenant’s income, but no tenant is required to pay more than 39 percent of his or her income. Prospective tenants must be at least 62 years of age, except for qualified disabled people.

President fires back

at anonymous claims

MARLBORO — In the week before a scheduled $42 million referendum proposing the construction of two new schools, the Marlboro Board of Education was busy putting out a series of public relations fires started by several anonymous pieces of mail that had been circulated around town.

Voters will go to the polls on March 14 to give a thumbs up or a thumbs down to the board’s plan to build a middle school, the district’s second, on Nolan Road, and an early childhood learning center at Harbor and Tennent roads.

Calling some of the details contained in an anonymous flier "misinformation," board President Carol Majonis issued a four-page press release on Friday "so that residents have accurate information to make their decision."

A group identifying itself only as "Concerned Citizens of Marlboro," she said, has distributed some of the misinformation on fliers. She said the fliers did not contain any information such as an address or the name of an officer of the group.

Taking aim at a statement in the anonymous mailing that claimed the referendum would cause a tax increase of $750 for a home assessed at $250,000, Majonis said, "I do not know where that information came from and I do not know that anybody actually calculated that amount of money."

The board president said the tax impact of the referendum on a home assessed at $250,000 could be between $280 and $299, which would cover construction and associated costs. Operating costs, which are part of the district’s general fund budget, will be additional, she said, adding, "I don’t know how the Concerned Citizens of Marlboro are coming up with $450 in operating expenses."

Majonis also noted that in the material distributed by the Concerned Citizens of Marlboro the opinion had been expressed that an elementary school would suffice as a solution to the district’s overcrowding, and inferences were made that the enrollment numbers changed.

Referring to the demographic data that indicates continued enrollment growth, Majonis said, "As a board and as the administration, we continually review the demographic numbers provided to us by our research consultant. We have not chosen to change the enrollment numbers. They are being changed for us by the state Department of Health as it updates its live birth data and by the continual issuance of building permits in the township."

The board also clarified a misunderstanding heard in town about the early childhood learning center.

"It was never intended to be a nursery school for 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds. Only young children with special needs and all the kindergarten students of the district will attend the early childhood learning center," Majonis said.

Camp seeks

zoners’ OK

for upgrades

By dave benjamin

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP — A plan to expand the Rolling Hills Day Camp, owned by Timberglade Inc., on Dittmar Road, off Old Mill Road, from 14 acres to 24 acres by adding two building lots has been presented to the zoning board.

The application for the camp expansion is proposed in an R-60 zone where day camps are not a permitted use. Improvements also include a softball field, a soccer field, a "dirt" bike track, a basketball court and two 5,000-square-foot activity pavilions.

The plan also calls for the removal of two existing wood platforms and the construction of a 30-by-100-foot activity building in the northeast corner of the annexed area. The proposed plan calls for a 25-foot buffer zone, and a sewer pump station and force main to service the camp.

A memorandum from Guy Leighton, assistant township planner, indicated that the attorney for Timberglade Inc., William Mehr, of Freehold, said there will not be an increase in the number of campers at the facility.

"(A) 1997 resolution limits the average number of campers on site per day to 400 and the maximum number of campers on site per day is 700," the letter said.

Additionally the letter indicated there was no emergency access from Roberts-ville Road.

One variance and several waivers have been requested in the latest proposal, which include a use variance for the day camp, a waiver for providing a right-of-way width of existing streets, and waivers providing floor plans, off-site drainage plans, soil pit size, topographical features and boundaries, nature and extent of wooded area swamps, bogs and ponds within 200 feet of the site.

Reviewing the history of the proposal, Leighton said in 1997 the Planning Board passed a resolution granting approval for several site improvements including an addition to the office building, construction of three buildings for indoor camper activities and storage, and for the replacement of a roller rink.

According to the memo, there was testimony from neighbors regarding noise, lack of screening, ongoing tree removal and traffic concerns. The board’s resolution included nine conditions to address the concerns. At that time concerns were raised regarding clearing and expansion of the camp. An application was then filed with the zoning board which has remained incomplete until this year.

The proposal will be continued at 7:30 p.m. March 9 in front of the zoning board. If time permits, public comment will be heard regarding the camp’s proposal.

Marlboro Airport sold

By mark rosman

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he Marlboro Airport, Route 79 at Harbor Road, has a new owner.

In response to an inquiry from the News Transcript, the township’s public information office said documents on file at Town Hall indicate that Aletta Denison Genova, acting as executrix of the estate of her late husband, M. Leonard Genova, sold the airport to a group known as Marlboro Holdings LLC in early February.

Attorney Jeffrey B. Gale of Hazlet told the News Transcript he represented Genova in the transaction, but declined to provide any additional information. He said he does not discuss any of his cases with newspaper reporters.

Attorney Ralph P. Casella of Staten Island, N.Y., represented Marlboro Holdings LLC.

Reached on Monday, Casella de-clined to name the principals of the group but did say some of the owners are New Jersey residents.

He said Marlboro Holdings LLC intends to maintain the property as an airport and "do everything possible to make it a prime airport facility."

Casella said some renovations have already been made to the restaurant on the airport property.

In conjunction with the change in ownership, a businessman who has operated at the airport for more than three decades said he is being evicted.

Richard W. Fenwick Jr., president of Deep Run Repair and Aircraft Maintenance Corp., said he has been operating his business at the airport for 33 years.

Last week, Fenwick told the News Transcript that he has received an eviction notice from Marlboro Holdings LLC and was told to be off the premises by March 31.

Fenwick, whose brother and sister-in-law, Everett and Dorothy Fenwick, were former owners of the Marlboro Airport, said he doesn’t know why the new owners are telling him to leave.

He said he does not have a lease for his space, having had understandings in place with each of the airport’s previous owners – Ray Preston; then his brother and sister-in-law; and finally with Genova.

Fenwick said he has plans for his company but he declined to discuss them.

Casella said he is not familiar with Fenwick or with Deep Run Repair.

Local J.C. Penney stores wait for word on future

By dave benjamin

JERRY WOLKOWITZ

An Eckerd drug store at Route 79 and School Road West, Marlboro, is among the stores scheduled to be closed by the J.C. Penney Co. Inc.

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n an attempt to restructure the corporation after a fourth quarter net loss of 8 cents per share and to save $530 million, the J.C. Penney Co. Inc. plans to close 40 to 45 department stores and about 300 Eckerd drug stores nationwide.

Several Eckerd drug stores in the Monmouth-Middlesex region have already been identified as those that will close. Information on which J.C. Penney department stores are to close is ex-pected to be made public in a matter of weeks.

"A total of 40 to 50 department stores will be closing and about 300 Eckerd drug stores will also close," said Stephanie Brown, spokeswoman for J.C. Penney, Plano, Texas. "During the next two weeks the public will find out which stores will close."

James E. Oesterreicher, chairman and CEO, said in a news release, "Improving the profitability of our core department store and drug store businesses is our top priority and has caused us to take a hard look at department stores and drug stores that are under-performing and lack future strategic fit."

At three J.C. Penney stores in the region — Freehold Raceway Mall, Freehold Township, Brunswick Square Mall, East Brunswick, and Monmouth Mall, Eatontown — employees are waiting word from corporate directors.

Jim Adams, assistant store manager at Freehold Raceway Mall, said he does not believe his store will be closing.

Arthur Kondrup, president of the Western Monmouth Cham-ber of Commerce, Freehold, said he believes the Freehold J.C. Penney is doing well and said he’d had no indication from mall management that a closing is imminent.

"You know as much as I do," said Dick Ackerman, store manager of the J.C. Penney at Bruns-wick Square Mall. "We have been told nothing. I read (it) in the paper. All I know is what the press releases say."

Barry Morman, store manager at the Monmouth Mall J.C. Penney, referred calls to the firm’s corporate headquarters.

At the Eckerd drug store on Tennent Road and Route 9, Manalapan, Rocco Letizia, store manager, said he did not know much about the situation and said he had not received any information from corporate executives.

A manager at the Eckerd drug store at School Road West and Route 79, Marlboro, referred calls to corporate offices.

As of press time, the following Eckerd drug stores in the region have been identified as stores to be closed:

• 8 South Main Street, Marlboro

• 477 Route 35, Red Bank

• 877 Main Street, Belford section of Middletown

• 570 Broad Street, Shrewsbury

• 3311 Route 9, Old Bridge

• 3574 Route 27, Kendall Park section of South Brunswick.

Other Eckerd stores throughout the state are also expected to be closed.

The chain of stores began in 1898 when J. Milton Eckerd used $600 to open his first cut-rate drug store in Erie, Pa. The store promised low prices and a high level of service which not only drew customers but was also the cause for expansion into other areas of the country with a total of more than 2,800 drug stores.

The Eckerd chain merged with J.C. Penney in 1996.

Historically, Eckerd initiated senior citizen discounts in the 1950s and two for one photo processing.