Burlington County Freeholders and the Burlington County Bridge Commission co-sponsored a Shared Services Forum Thursday, September 18, 2008, to discuss the financial impacts the Council on Affordable Housing’s (COAH) third-round regulations will have on towns and how towns can fight this latest mandate. Freeholders and the Bridge Commission detailed a plan they have devised to assist municipalities in meeting the deadline for submitting updated plans to COAH.
The third-round regulations require towns to build more moderate- and low-income family homes. Towns must submit updated plans by December 31, 2008 detailing how they will meet the new requirements or risk being subject to a developer’s remedy lawsuit.
Freeholder Director Aubrey A. Fenton welcomed all to the event, which featured a panel of distinguished speakers. Those speakers included Shirley Bishop, private planning consultant and former COAH executive director, Mark Leckington, vice president of Housing, Community Grants, Planning & Housing of East Windsor, Mark A. Remsa, director of the Burlington County Department of Economic Development and Regional Planning, Michael Cerra, senior legislative analyst for the New Jersey League of Municipalities, and Richard W. Hunt, Esq. of the Parker McCay law firm of Marlton. Mr. Hunt is the solicitor for Medford Township, which has taken action against the state to stop COAH’s third-round regulations.
Highlights of the Commission’s aggressive capital program of bridge maintenance include replacement of the grid deck (bascule span) on the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge, rehab of the south abutment on the Burlington-Bristol Bridge, and replacement of expansion bearings on the Burlington-Bristol Bridge (which will include the addition of “smart technology” sensors). Incorporating 21st-century technology into maintenance projects like these is one result of the partnership with Drexel University.
Technology upgrades will also come from projects spearheaded by Bridge Commission staff. Two examples of those projects, which will significantly improve operations at the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges, are a new fiber-optic and wireless communications system and a portable toll collection system which can be used in emergency situations. Both will greatly enhance the Commission’s ability to monitor the safety and security of its bridges.
“More than $2 Million in the Commission’s capital budget, which has been approved by the state and which reflects no toll increase, is earmarked for technology,” said Commissioner/Treasurer James E. Fletcher. “Maintaining safe bridges is our core mission—and our budget and these new initiatives clearly reflect that. But we are still the best bargain around.”
“The Commission’s stated mission is ‘to provide…safe, accessible, and affordable bridges,’” Vice Chairwoman Priscilla B. Anderson added. “Our maintenance program ensures that our bridges are safe and having no toll increase keeps our bridges affordable to the motoring public. More than ever, our toll payers need a financial break.”
Freeholder Director Aubrey A. Fenton agrees. “Holding the line on tolls sends another powerful message to Burlington County commuters and taxpayers that we are serious about controlling pocketbook issues in this difficult economic atmosphere,” said Fenton. “Freeholders set the standard this year when they reduced the amount of taxes needed to run County government. The bridge commission is meeting that standard by holding the line as well.”
“At a time when people are being asked to pay more for just about everything, we are not only holding the line on a toll increase, but also expanding our outreach with economic development dollars,” Chairman Comegno said. “You could say we’re saving people money coming and going.”
|September brings transition at Palmyra Cove Nature Park. Students are back in their classrooms and no doubt looking forward to their first field trip of the school year. In preparation for the new year, Ed Sanderson, PCNP’s director of education, held two teacher training workshops this month for new and returning PCNP teaching staff. The workshops keep PCNP’s staff current on curriculum contact changes and provide new staff members with important training to prepare for the first school trip of the year.
We recently hosted 30 students from Philadelphia Mennonite High School, which was the first school trip for PCNP this year. The Sewell, Gloucester County-based Archway School, which tends to children with special needs, will visit PCNP on September 23. This will be the Archway School’s first visit to PCNP.
PCNP’s symbolic start of the new school year is the “Make a Splash” Waterfestival, scheduled for Friday, September 26 from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM. This is the seventh consecutive year that PCNP and the Burlington County Bridge Commission will host the festival. We expect about 200 students and teachers from the Cinnaminson School District for a day of learning and fun.
Cove Caterpillars, a program for pre-school children and designed and run by our naturalist, Kristina Merola, is open every Monday during September. Originally offered only in March, the Cove Caterpillars program has been so successful that we are have expanded the program by offering it in September as well.
We have also extended our Wednesday evening hikes into September. These hikes provide an informative and fun way get in some evening exercise.
We continue to offer guided hikes on the first Saturday of each month and Beginning Birding classes on the third Saturday of each month. Since we are well into fall migration period, many birds flying north and others flying south will travel through PCNP, making it a popular location for bird watchers this time of year.
Thanks to PCNP’s dedicated volunteers, some of whom are Master Gardeners, the gardens around the Environmental Discovery Center and median strip of our new entrance road looks terrific! Volunteers have been planning, planting, weeding, and watering all spring and summer. Our gardens are designed to attract birds and butterflies and bring pleasure to our visitors.
We recently learned that PCNP will be receive The Greening of America Award from the Philadelphia Horticultural Society.
PCNC will host a beach clean-up on Saturday, September 20 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Our beach clean-up events usually generate a good turnout of volunteers. Regular PCNP visitors understand that having an incoming tide twice daily does not make it easy to keep our 1½ miles of beachfront free of trash. We are thankful for our supporters and appreciate their dedication to keep our beachfront clean.
The beautiful artwork of Dressler Smith, an artist living in Pennsauken, is on display this month at PCNP. Ms. Smith, a charter member of the New Jersey Pastel Painters Society, says her work “tends to favor tranquil landscapes and ethnic images” and that the inspiration for her art comes from ‘the beauty of things created by God and not man”. Stop by and see it today!
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