From No. 400 to No. 467

Rahway tumbled to No. 467 in New Jersey Monthly‘s biannual ranking of top towns in the Garden State. Rahway ranked No. 400 the last time the magazine compiled rankings two years ago. The city was sandwiched behind Monroe Township (Middlesex) and ahead of Harvey Cedars Borough (Ocean), slotting into the 83rd percentile, the bottom fifth of the state’s 566 towns. (Bedminster (Somerset) ranked No. 1, accompanied by a story, and here’s a .pdf of the entire ranking.)

Eight of Union County’s 21 towns ranked in the top 100, led by Mountainside (8) and followed by Berkeley Heights (19), Clark (24), Cranford (34), New Providence (66), Scotch Plains (75), Summit (76), and Springfield (85). Five county towns ranked behind Rahway: Hillside (507), Roselle (533), Linden (540), Plainfield (543) and Elizabeth (563). Other nearby neighbors ranked No. 280, Edison, and No. 358, Woodbridge.

It seemed like a rather peculiar ranking this year, as more than a few towns within the top 20 had jumped from the 200s and 300s the last time around.

According to the report, NJ Monthly‘s research team selected “a prototypical indicator corresponding, respectively, to each of these eight categories”:
* Population growth rate since the last Census (2008)
* Three-year change in median home prices (2009)
* Median property tax bill combined with change in median taxes the past two years (2009)
* Percentage of land preserved as open space (2009)
* Unemployment rate (2008)
* Total crime rate (2008)
* Proficiency on state-mandated standardized tests for fourth-, eighth- and 11th-graders
* Number of acute-care hospitals within 10 miles

“To level the playing field, household income was not considered and home values were measured by the rate of increase/decrease over three years rather than current prices. To compare land development, towns with relatively slower growth and more open space were rated more favorably. Towns with lower unemployment and crime rates also scored higher, as did those close to more hospitals.”