LAWRENCE: >‘Eggerts Crossing’ to be shown by League

By Lea Kahn, Staff Writer
   ”The Struggle to Create: The Story of Eggerts Crossing,” has already been shown, but township residents who missed its premiere in February will have another chance to see the documentary next week.
   The 20-minute-long film will be aired Tuesday, May 7, at 7 p.m. in the Lawrence High School auditorium, complements of the Lawrence chapter of the League of Women Voters. The film was produced by Lawrence High School students earlier this year.
   The documentary outlines the history of the Eggerts Crossing Village affordable housing development, which was the first of its kind in Lawrence Township. It was built in the 1970s at 175 Johnson Ave., despite some community opposition.
   The Lawrence chapter hopes that all segments of the Lawrence community will attend the session to view the movie, said Nicole Plett, who belongs to the organization. The film should appeal to history buffs and others who are interested in learning how Lawrence grew into the community it has become, she said.
   ”We want to bring the community around a topic that is rooted in Lawrence Township history, and American civil rights history,” Ms. Plett said. “We also want to celebrate the vitality of our high school students. It’s not just some dusty old film. It’s new and it was made by a creative group of young people.”
   The documentary was inspired by Fred Vereen Jr.’s collection of papers and documents that he donated to Lawrence Township several years ago. Mr. Vereen, who still lives in the neighborhood, was instrumental in creating and managing the Eggerts Crossing Village affordable housing development.
   Mr. Vereen wanted students to go through his papers to learn what had happened in their own community. The collection includes letters, newspaper clippings, minutes of meetings and photographs that document the Eggerts Crossing neighborhood’s history.
   Mr. Vereen suggested an essay contest for students, but Tonia Moore, the student assistance counselor at Lawrence High School, thought the students might be more interested in creating a movie. They were excited about it and poured through the material in search of people they could interview.
   The students interviewed Mr. Vereen and his childhood friend, Fred Olessi. The two men grew up in the Eggerts Crossing and Eldridge Park neighborhoods.
   While Mr. Vereen and Mr. Olessi went to elementary school together, their paths diverged when they moved on to Trenton High School. Mr. Vereen, w ho is black, was steered toward vocational education courses while Mr. Olessi, who is white, took academic courses. Lawrence High School did not exist.
   The students also interviewed Peggy Huchet, who was also instrumental in backing the Eggertts Crossing Village development, and the Rev. Dana Fearon III, who was the pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville and another supporter of the development.
   The students also interviewed attorney David Friedman, who represented the Lawrence Nonprofit Housing Corp., which developed Eggerts Crossing Village, and planner Joseph Feinberg.