Today’s Daily Record had a great article talking about the Dover Lanes bowling alley closing down. Dover Lanes is a “family” and “fun” landmark in Morris County and North Jersey and it will be missed. I remember when I was in a weekend bowling league at the alley as a young kid and I would bowl with some of my friends from the Lake Rogerene area – it was a good time! From the article:
A sharp decline in business at the 34-lane alley was responsible for the decision to close, according to Dover Lanes’ manager, Joyce Reynolds.
On Tuesday night bowlers were moved by the sight of workers already dismantling Lanes 29 through 34.
Ms. Reynolds has been the manager at Dover Lanes for as long as I can remember. I hope that she lands on her feet. It’s also interesting to note that a sharp decline in business is being marked as the reason to close the alley down. Circle Lanes in Roxbury has much higher prices and a really awkward ball return system that is guaranteed to destroy your bowling ball and yet they’re still in operation. Weird. More from the article:
Atlanta-based developer Trammell Crow Residential announced in 2005 that it wanted to buy the bulk of the properties on Bassett Highway and tear them down to make way for a residential and retail development with hundreds of apartments. Although the company’s plans for the street are still alive, the completion of a deal that would allow the beginning of construction has been slowed by the slump in the housing market. As a result, Trammell Crow has yet to reach the required development agreement with Dover’s Board of Aldermen.
Dover Lanes, along with the other businesses in the proposed development area, are allowed to remain in their current locations until a development agreement is reached. But Reynolds said the mere announcement of Trammell Crow’s plans prompted the managers of many leagues to decline to renew their contracts with Dover Lanes because they feared the alley would be shut down in the middle of their leagues’ seasons.
Two interesting points here. First, to knock down that entire street and put up contemporary developments will absolutely ruin the character of the town in that part of Dover. There is a certain charm about that area which can be restored if those in charge just focus their efforts! But knocking down the entire block and putting up “hundreds” of apartments and retail on the bottom? Talk about gentrification at its worst.
Second, how interesting that the redevelopment plan – which appears to be an economic development as much as a residential project – actually caused this local business to cave. Isn’t that the exact opposite of what economic development plans are supposed to bring to the table? And since I’ve had ample opportunity to sit in many of the brain storming meetings for these economic development plans, I can tell you that no one is thinking about having a bowling alley as part of the new development. Other than restaurants and the occasional bar, it’s extremely rare for an economic/residential stimulus project to have any night life associated with it – even night life as low-key as a bowling alley.
What a shame. Morris County and North Jersey loses another local hangout that brought people together to have good old-fashioned fun.