Did you know that the Lenola section is part of Moorestown?
The question’s not as ridiculous as it might sound.
Jamie Boren, who’s lived in Moorestown’s west end for 25 years, said there are plenty of people—many of whom live in town—who don’t know Lenola is actually a part of Moorestown.
Councilwoman Victoria Napolitano, a three-year resident of Lenola, said, “I once had someone say something to me about the Lenola Fire House in Maple Shade—and my jaw just dropped.”
But you can’t condemn people if they don’t know better, and it’s no wonder they don’t know, Boren said. Head west on Camden Avenue and gradually the landscape starts to change—from the quiet, tree-lined streets and quaint storefronts downtown, to cracked sidewalks and old, often rundown buildings.
Efforts have been undertaken before to improve the Lenola section, most notably the West End Task Force, formed roughly a decade ago. And while plenty of positive recommendations came out of that, few were acted upon, according to Boren.
Following through on a campaign promise, Napolitano is now spearheading the formation of a Lenola Advisory Commission, to be chaired by Boren, to address many of the issues facing that neighborhood.
Boren said a lot of the improvements are tied to aesthetics—fix the sidewalks, plant trees, add lighting, make property owners fix their buildings up—and by essentially prettying up the place, it could go a long way toward reinstilling a sense of pride and making Lenola residents feel like they’re a part of the town.
“Lenola doesn’t deserve to look shabby,” Napolitano said, “and it’s gotten kind of shabby.”
Boren said she doesn’t want Lenola to try and mimic the rest of Moorestown—it should have its own character—“but it doesn’t have to look like it’s not part of town.
“That’s ultimately my goal: to see change, to better tie this end of town in with the rest of Moorestown.”
Lenola is often viewed, particularly by those who live there, as the township’s red-headed stepchild. That’s no one’s fault, Boren said. But the timing is right, particularly with a Lenola resident on council, to do something.
Of course, the question arises: Where’s the money coming from for these improvements?
Napolitano said it’s still way too early to speculate about such concerns, but stressed, “For me, the name of the game is fiscal responsibility,” adding that the task force would explore grant opportunities.
Boren’s family—including her grandfather, former mayor Walter Maahs—were born and raised in Moorestown. She has deep ties, and with young children to raise, she’s here for the long haul.
“Because I have a big mouth,” she responded, when asked why she was chosen to lead the commission. “Because I care … This is where I grew up and this is where I intend to stay. I’m not going to expect somebody else to make changes happen if i’m not involved myself.”
The group is still getting off the ground, but Boren said approximately a half dozen people have already expressed interest in serving. Both she and Napolitano said the process is going to be open and collaborative.
"This is not Victoria Napolitano’s vision of Lenola," the councilwoman said. "We want this to be Lenola’s vision of Lenola."
To inquire about joining or to share your thoughts on how to improve Lenola, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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