To the editor:
As we start a new year, I look back on the last 12 months with a great sense of satisfaction and pride. When I was elected by my fellow council members last January to lead our town as mayor, I knew we would have our work cut out for us. With large projects underway throughout town, business districts in need of revitalization, and the harsh economic realities facing our entire country, 2013 was set up as a year of many challenging issues. But as we in Moorestown always do, we faced these challenges head-on, and I am proud to say 2013 was a banner year for our community.
First and foremost, I am extremely happy with the progress that has been made on the new town hall and library complex. When Deputy Mayor Chris Chiacchio and I first sought to serve on town council, we made a clear promise to our residents that we would see this project through to fruition. I am delighted to report the complex is on track for completion in April.
This year, work was also completed on the renovations to the Church Street Recreation Center and its doors were reopened to the public in early December. In addition to the newly redone gymnasium and third floor recreational space, the township now has offices within the building for Parks and Recreation staff.
The revitalization of the Moorestown Mall is officially underway, with both Marc Vetri’s Osteria and Firebirds Wood Fired Grill opening their doors over the last few months. The newly renovated Regal Cinemas held its grand reopening in December, the mall unveiled the new “Secret Garden” children’s play area near Macy’s, and a number of new retail stores are now available for shoppers of all ages. On top of all this, 2014 will see the opening of Jose Garces’ Distrito and The Corner Bakery as well. The Moorestown Mall is quickly becoming a premiere destination to shop and dine, and I am proud of the volunteers on the Economic Development Advisory Committee who have supported efforts to revive the mall over the last few years.
The good news doesn’t stop there. In 2013, Virtua opened its new state-of-the-art Health and Wellness Center on Young Avenue, and Destination Maternity, the world's largest retailer and designer of maternity apparel, announced it will be relocating its headquarters and distribution center to Moorestown in fall 2014.
Buffalo Wild Wings announced they will open a new location in East Gate Square, and local developer Bill Burris announced he will be opening a French bistro on Main Street at the site of the vacant Friendly’s this spring. All of these developments are great news, bringing with them more local jobs and increased commercial ratables to our town.
Over the past year, council has also taken additional steps to be accessible to residents and give a voice to the people we were elected to represent. We officially moved to reinstate the “Residents Requests and Presentations” portion of all council meetings, allowing individuals from around town to address council on any matter they feel is critical or important. We also began holding office hours outside of regular council meetings, giving the taxpayers the attention they deserve and offering a way for our citizens to feel comfortable addressing their issues somewhere besides a microphone in a crowded room. Last but not least, council launched a “Business Outreach Tour,” meeting with business owners/officials, touring their facilities, and making sure the business community knows they have elected officials ready to work with them and help them succeed.
As I look back on the past year, I feel it was one our town can be proud of.
Moving forward, there are many things we want to accomplish. We as a council will look to improve our municipal parking lot; continue improvements to our infrastructure; begin the process of maintaining and improving a great asset in town, Strawbridge Lake; find a permanent space for our police department; and keep the quality of life we as Moorestonians have come to appreciate and expect while continuing to be fiscally responsible.
As we move forward, I am taking this opportunity to turn over my role as mayor to another councilperson—not because I am not up for the challenge, but because I truly believe other individuals I serve with deserve the chance to “rotate” into the role of mayor. So Monday night, I stepped down as mayor to make way for one of my colleagues to have the chance to take the reins for 2014. Leaving this role is bittersweet. But more than anything else, I feel an unmitigated gratitude not only to my fellow council members, but to all of Moorestown for affording me the incredible opportunity to serve our community first as councilwoman, and then as mayor.
Our town is a truly special place to live, and I have no doubt it will only get better in the coming years. Thank you for your trust, and I will see you around town!
Moorestown Deputy Mayor
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