From the early 1970s, Maureen Ogden was greatly interested in environmental issues. She was a member of the Citizens League for Environmental Action Now as well as the Millburn Environmental Commission, of which she became chairperson.
Maureen Ogden was elected to a 3-year term on the Millburn Township Committee in 1975 and to a second term in 1978. In 1979, she was elected Mayor of Millburn (the town’s first female mayor) and her attention turned to the deterioration of service on the Morris and Essex (M&E) line and the need for reëlectrification of the M&E. Mayor Ogden initiated a meeting of counties and municipalities along the M&E to develop a consensus to make improvements in rail service, to promote safety of service, and to expedite reëlectrification of the M&E line.
This was the impetus for the formation of the Lackawanna Coalition, which was incorporated shortly before NJ Transit’s own incorporation in July 1979.
The reëlectrification project had been stalled primarily because no municipality was willing or had the location to construct the transformer station needed to carry out the re-electrification. Mayor Ogden stepped forward and gained approval of Millburn officials to construct the transformer station in a portion of a parking lot in Millburn that was not fully utilized. It remains there to this day.
Maureen Ogden continued her public service in 1982 when she was elected to the New Jersey State Assembly, where she served 7 terms, until 1996. She chaired the Assembly Committee on Conservation, Energy and Natural Resources, the Assembly Environment Committee, and served as chairperson of the Garden State Preservation Trust. She was also supportive of adoptees being able to access their birth records. Later, she was chairperson of the Conservation Committee of New Jersey Garden Clubs.
Maureen Ogden passed away on August 17 at the age of 93.
Elaine Becker has fond memories of her mentor, Mayor Maureen Ogden.