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Swede Run Barn in Danger of Demolition

Local groups rally to save the landmark.

It has been the subject of painters and photographers from around the region, a charming reminder of simpler times in a rapidly changing landscape.

The Swede Run barn, also known as the Benner barn, has been declared unsafe by the Moorestown Township engineer and must be repaired or demolished, officials say.

The little building, visible from Westfield Road as you pass the Moorestown Hunt development, sits on a 120-acre parcel called Swede Run Fields, purchased by the township in 2002 with open space funds.

The Alaimo Group reported to the Township Council in July that the 150-year-old structure was dangerous. It estimated that repairs would cost $160,000.

Council members decided that the price tag was too high, so they instructed acting Township Manager Tom Merchel to see if any community groups were interested in taking on the project.

Two groups have expressed an interest: the Eagle Scouts and the Historical Society of Moorestown, according to Tom Ford, director of Community Development.

Mayor John Button said an outside group could probably do the job less expensively than the township could.

 “None of us want to see it go,” said Button. “But the expense for what that building is, a small empty structure in very poor condition, at this time it just doesn’t make sense. I’m hopeful that we’ll find a different kind of solution, but if not, we’re going to have to take it down.”

But no one wants to go in that direction, said Ford.

“A lot of people enjoy it. It’s a nice thing to have in town,” Ford said. “The important thing is to get it stabilized so it doesn’t deteriorate further. Complete restoration could take place at any time after that.”

The Historical Society has already begun asking for donations to save the barn.

“This beloved local landmark is one of the few remaining vestiges of Moorestown’s rich farming heritage,” said Historical Society President Lisa Hammell.

Donations by check should be made out to The Historical Society of Moorestown with “barn restoration” on the memo line, she said. Donations should be mailed to Julie Maravich, 660 Chester Ave., Moorestown, NJ 08057.

KJL August 08, 2011 at 10:59 AM
Jon - I am curious about your answer to the question I posed yesterday. Are you in favor of a natural grass athletic faciity at Swede's Run or on another Open Space parcel or are you simply anti-athletics like MSOS?
Mark Hines August 08, 2011 at 11:45 AM
Kevin - MSOS is not anti-athletics. There are plenty of families with children who play sports supporting MSOS, and actually a number of MSOS supporters are coaches of youth sports. Please stop that misinformation now.
Ginger Hayes August 08, 2011 at 12:15 PM
Mark, I'm sure you will find that as the facts...the true numbers circulate most of those parents will ultimately wish they hadn't signed the petition and willnotvote for it. You have led people to Believe it is one or the other and THAT IS NOT TRUE. Not only is it proper and legal there is money for both many projects as Kevin has factually pointed out SEVERAL times.
KJL August 08, 2011 at 12:22 PM
Misinformation? What misinformation? Is there another legal use of Open Space Funds that your petition is trying to prevent besides athletics? MSOS supporters are all over this website, mostly under fictitious names, poudnign ahtletics as elitist, private clubs. Talk about misinformation! And what about the Open Space Master Plan? Is the Master Plan aslo misinformation? Let's talk about misinformation....you refuse to respond to any of my posts about the economics of the Open Space Fund and the 70%-100% growth of the Open Space Fund even after the fields are fixed. Your refusal to acknowledge any of the funding facts are more misleading than most of the comments on these posts. Mark, I am in favor of using Open Space Funds to stabilize the farmhouse at Swede's Run, repair the dams at Strawbridge Lake to get them up to tthe DEP's Dam Safety standards, and invest in the Township's recreation facilities as proposed by KIDS, all of which can be done while increasing the Open Space Fund by 70% over the next five years and wihtout raising taxes. How about you? Are you in favor of these things? Or are you in favor of raising taxes to invest in the Township's assets?
Gregory Molesan February 29, 2012 at 12:29 AM
How long did that building stand without that ugly fence around it? The fence takes all the natural beauty away form it. If you are going to put this natural old building behind an ugly black fence get rid of it.

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