Township manager Scott Carew dropped by the Moorestown Business Association's monthly meeting Wednesday to fill the business community in on a number of topics, ranging from the development of the municipal complex to economic development.
Here's some of what he had to say:
On what's being done to improve the Lenola section of town: "I’ve heard a lot of sentiment that Lenola is sort of the forgotten stepchild of the township. I can assure that nothing could be further from the truth. I met in the last two months with the county bridge commission’s director of economic development and regional planning to review some of our zoning laws around Camden Avenue to come up with something that’s a little more business friendly. I know Lenola’s a subject the Economic Development Advisory Committee addresses. I’m talking to a developer—I can’t say where—but there’s two pieces of property that sorely need work that he almost has under contract."
On the potential for new restaurant in East Gate Square: "The township is already in discussions with a national restaurant chain—who at this point wishes to remain anonymous—that is looking at the Friendly’s site."
On other economic development across town: "We anticipate more than 600 new jobs in town over the next 18 months between the mall, Virtua and Lockheed."
On his thoughts for what should be done with the existing library: "There are varying opinions what we should do with that building, and I am one that falls pretty strongly on the side of taking that building down. About five or six years ago, the township actually had engineers and architects look at the building to improve it to become a better library. Back then that was a $5/6 million cost. The building’s not in great shape, it needs all new HVAC, and to repurpose it for anything besides a library, now you’re talking about even more substantial work. It is something we’re reviewing, both from an economic development standpoint, an architectural building standpoint … There’s just fundamental structural problems with the building ... We do have a new council member (Greg Newcomer) who has expressed an interest in looking at different ideas. Obviously we want to have a plan in place before the new library’s built and we’ve moved out, because if we are going to demolish the building, we want to do that relatively quick after the move into the new building."
On improvements to the Church Street Recreation Center: Carew said the recreation department's offices will be moved to the second floor of the center, overlooking the gym, which will "be nice both from an aesthetic standpoint and from the standpoint of supervision of the kids that use that building."
He also noted that a Moorestown police officer would be posted on the third floor of the building to address safety and security issues, particularly those associated with the youth who use the facility.
The officer on site will be one of the department's class II special officers—part-timers with the same training as full-time officers. The advantage, Carew said, is the part-time cops are much cheaper, and just as effective.
"You can do it at a cost that’s a fraction of what it would cost to pay one of our full-time officers, especially when most of the stuff that the class II officers are going to do would be overtime for our regular officers," he said. "So rather than paying $60, $70, $80 for overtime to a guy that’s got 20 years on the force, we’re paying a third of that."
On the township's development of a long-term road improvement plan: "What a lot of towns do is … just basically look at what they can afford—and unfortunately this is the way Moorestown operated for a while—you look at what you can afford, and then you back in what your most major needs are and you try to get it done, and you fall behind that way. We want to look at every road in town with our engineers, and figure out a 15-year program where certain roads will be worked on every year. We’ll not only know what to expect in the upcoming fiscal year, but in upcoming fiscal years. And it’s really the responsible way to do that."
On concerns about the maintenance of Strawbridge Lake Park: "It's certainly not as well-manicured as perhaps other municipal parks are. However, there’s two reasons for that. The park itself is not your traditional park. It’s a linear park. It is bordered by a major road (Route 38) and another fairly major road at Haines Drive. The honest truth is, over the last 10 years, as the town did shrink in size—and I’m talking in terms of the workforce for the township—probably the worst hit has been the Public Works Department. Back in the late '90s, I believe there was 83 public works employees. We’re now down to 42. In that time, we have more homes, we have more roads, we have more trash to pick up."