Trenton’s West Ward extends roughly from Calhoun Street to the western edge of the city, encompassing the neighborhoods of Cadwalader Heights, Hiltonia, Glen Afton, and others. The Trenton Journal spoke with Megan and Arthur Iurilli, who live on Richey Place off West State Street, to get their take on life in Trenton and in particular the West Ward.
Megan grew up in Trenton, and Arthur is originally from Highland Park in North Jersey. They met at Mercer County Community College, and have lived in Mill Hill, South Trenton, and various Trenton neighborhoods before they settled on Richey Place. Megan works as an early childhood teacher, and Arthur works in Pennington for a company that produces industrial components.
When asked his views on Trenton, Arthur says, “I especially like the people here and the downtown scene. It would be good if there were more activities on weekends, which is why I appreciate people like Eric Maywar who do so much to promote the downtown businesses. I only superficially follow the local political news. Of course, I’m not happy about some of the homophobic comments by city council members that were in the news over the last year or two. I’m looking forward to cannabis legalization here, I think that will solve a number of problems. I like that there’s no shortage of local businesses, like pizza shops and mom-and-pop type places. We’re always discovering new spots and corner stores.
Regarding his own part of town, Arthur especially likes Richey Place, a quiet, historic, dead-end street where he and Megan feel free to relax outdoors. It’s an easy walking distance to downtown. Other destinations in the West Ward include Cadwalader Park and Ellarslie, and nearby Prospect Street is home to some Jamaican restaurants and a number of other small businesses.
Outsiders often see Trenton as a dangerous, high-crime city. In Arthur’s view, “Crime is subjective. I don’t worry about it at all. I’ve walked from the train station to my house at midnight. I’m hoping that when cannabis is legalized that will help to lessen crime too.”
He has few complaints about Trenton, although neighbors note a need for more attention to trees, street lights, potholes, and infrastructure. He would like to see the city hire more local residents to work on basic maintenance, and suggests that there should be more organized efforts at public relations and promotional outreach to Trenton’s citizens. “The city doesn’t do good PR for itself. They’ve been really good at informing people about health issues, like covid testing and vaccination, and things like cooling stations during heat emergencies, but I’d like to see them reach out to residents and say, ‘this is what this means to you when it comes to other projects. Like what Eric does to market the city to outside business people, only this would be like marketing it to the people who live here. Maybe it’s a job for individual council members, working for constant engagement.”
Megan generally shares Arthur’s positive views on the city. “I’ve lived in Trenton for the majority of my life, but for the last 10 years I've worked in Pennsylvania, so I sometimes feel like a part-time Trentonian. But this city is full of amazing humans who are putting in the effort to help Trenton flourish, and I'm really proud to support them while I work towards being more present.”
Despite how the outside world views our city, with an emphasis on its flaws, those of us who actually live in and around Trenton can appreciate its advantages. We are a small but strong community where people actually know each other, with thriving neighborhoods and organizations; a growing cultural scene; and people who welcome diversity of lifestyles and thought.