Merchantville Mayor Ted Brennan and Pennsauken Mayor Marco DiBattista were the guest speakers at a virtual meeting of the Pennsauken-Merchantville Area Chamber of Commerce (PMAC), held on Wednesday, March 10, via Zoom at noon. Tim Ellis moderated the event with updates from both municipalities about the past year. Mayor Brennan thanked PMAC and gave an overview on meeting the business challenges, in 2020-21, when most of the borough's resources were allocated to fighting the pandemic at the government level. Merchantville has responded to needs of residents and businesses by reassigning municipal personnel and appointing an Executive Order czar to repackage and disseminate information about federal and state grant and loan funding opportunities through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Mayor Brennan underscored the unique nature and bond between government and businesses, and commended Merchantville's residents for their response and support of businesses during the past 12 months. Mayor Brennan shared the Borough's successful drive to break down digital barriers to get seniors registered and took the opportunity to encourage all to get vaccinated. Mayor Brennan ended his remarks underscoring the promise of 2021 and sharing his desire to capture the potential and energy that an influx of new residents from Philadelphia hold. He also spoke about plans for a less intense redevelopment featuring a pedestrian walkway with arts and entertainment area connecting Merchantville's multi-use path with anchor businesses like Eclipse Brewing and The Station Coffee. Mayor DiBattista showcased improvements to outside spaces in the township including upgrades to pickle ball courts and a 49th street park.
Mayor Brennan provided an update to the community about the Covid-19 status in the Borough. He reminded residents that Merchantville's parks, sports fields and the multi-use path are all closed at this time and while he feels and understands the frustration with these closures and desire to exercise it continues to be necessary. He thanked everyone for their cooperation. He noted that additional testing sites are now available and this has lead to a corresponding increase in positive cases in our neighboring communities of Cherry Hill and Camden. The mayor informed residents that the Primary election has been moved to July 7th and encouraged anyone concerned about on-site voting to apply for vote by mail through the county. He assured residents that he and Council are working with their partners in government, faith based groups and our schools to support businesses and obtain the resources that our community needs.
Effective 8:00 p.m. this evening Mayor Brennan closed Merchantville's public parks and spaces consistent with Governor Murphy's Executive Order 118, which was issued today and is part of the continuing effort of the Borough to help flatten the curve and took additional Covid-19 actions. The mayor recognizes that the closure of all parks, particularly the multi-use path will upset many, but we stand united with the State and Camden County in trying to do everything we can to get through this difficult time, encourage appropriate social distancing and urge residents to stay home. The next few weeks will be difficult and we are seeing a significant increase in cases and deaths in the County in the last few days. We must remain vigilant.
Mayor Ted Brennan delivered a message to the Merchantville community on Sunday, March 29th, thanking them for continuing to adhere to Governor Murphy's executive "stay at home" order, social distancing and traveling from home only for essential needs. He also provided an update on the current number of positive cases in the Borough, the need for blood donations and some volunteer opportunities to assist seniors through the County. In closing he stressed the importance of residents supporting our small businesses and their owners who have been so dramatically impacted by this pandemic. Mayor Brennan also reminded everyone to complete their Census 2020 this week.
March 13, 2020 - The pandemic of coronavirus is causing disruption to the lives of people throughout the world and Merchantville is no different. I want to assure the residents of Merchantville that throughout this pandemic, the Borough is committed to and has put into place certain contingencies to ensure the continued provision of essential services to the community including police, fire and other first responders, along with public works and other essential services. We are working with our partners at the County, State and Federal levels on contingency planning to obtain resources and to implement effective planning. Residents should rest assured that those services will continue, and residents can expect the same exceptional service and response from those essential services during this unprecedented time. Residents are also reminded that our community is built upon our relationships and now is a time to show courage and calm, avoid panic and care for ourselves and our neighbors by taking measured actions such as social distancing.
In the interest of public safety and to do our part to assist in the control of this dangerous virus, both in and outside our community, effective immediately the Borough is enacting the following measures:
• All Borough Commissions, Committees, Agencies and clubs will hold public meetings via telephone and video conference only until further notice. Interested members of the public will be provided opportunity to participate via telephone or video conference and will have the same access currently afforded by the respective commissions, committees and agencies. This restriction does not apply to Borough Council which will continue to operate through its normal process until further notice is provided but will offer streaming of all Borough Council meetings.
• The Borough is encouraging all residents, businesses and visitors to conduct business with the Borough digitally through our website (www.merchantvillenj.gov), e-mail or through the telephone. Borough employees will have access to e-mail and Borough servers throughout this period of disruption regardless of where they are sitting. Further, the Borough will be focusing efforts to enhance the available information on the Borough website to make the Borough more accessible in a digital manner.
• All Borough public events scheduled through April 12, 2020 are cancelled including the annual Easter Egg Hunt – April 5th • Merchantville Borough Municipal Court is cancelling previously scheduled court sessions for March 25, 2020 and April 1, 2020. Individuals who were scheduled for those dates will be provided new court dates through the regular process.
• Businesses, residents and other applicants to our Boards, Construction Offices, Code Enforcement and Zoning Offices will receive a 14-day extension on any and all deadlines, expiration dates and abatement periods that fall between March 13th and April 3rd 2020. Trash along with brush and debris pickup will remain as scheduled. Borough communication will continue to occur through official social media channels, the Borough website and through our emergency Reverse 911 system when necessary.
Borough Council held its annual Reorganization meeting on Monday, January 6, 2020. Council-Elect Raymond H. Woods, lll, re-elected Councilman Anthony Perno and 2020 Council president, Sean Fitzgerald, were sworn in by Freeholder Louis Cappelli and Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt. The meeting opened with remarks by Mayor Edward 'Ted' Brennan and the announcement Council Assignments and Standing Committees for 2020. Mayor Brennan also announced the 2020 Annual Appointments of Borough Board and Commission members and the appointment of Borough Solicitor, Borough Accountant, Borough Engineer, Municipal Planner, Bond Council, Payroll, Title, Environmental Engineer and Special Counsel. The Schedule of 2020 Borough Holidays was read into the record. All agenda and meeting minutes are available on the Municipal website.
During the Council meeting on Monday, November 11th, Mayor Brennan and Council extended their thanks to the Borough employees who have served our Country. Kevin Patti - Fire Chief of the Merchantville Fire Department, John Queen - Merchantville Police Patrolman and Municipal Humane Law Enforcement Officer, and Steven Morrone Jr. - Merchantville Police Patrolman were honored with commemorative plaques during the Veterans Day meeting. Other items for discussion during the regular meeting included an updates on Police Collective Bargaining, the Redevelopment area, the status of Gold Medal Environmental and the Community Center.
On Monday, July 8th, Mayor and Council heard from residents of Glenwood Avenue about the continuing issue of street flooding. Reports of flooding on the 200 block of Glenwood Avenue in Merchantville can be found in newspapers as far back as 1938. In 1979, flooding along Glenwood and Holly Avenues was sited as issue and in 1989 Borough Engineers, Remington and Vernick, advised the municipality to increase the size of storm sewer pipes from 18" to 24"and replace the system of drainage pipes along the railroad embankment. In 1991 the Borough appropriated $25,000 in funds to enlarge the storm drains, then in 1992 an additional $22,800 to increase drain capacity caused by heavy storms. In 1995, Mayor Patrick Brennan announced an $85,00 contract with VPS, Inc. to solve years of flooding by relocating two storm pipes, installed in 1945 along the 200 block of Glenwood, to the Holly Road intersection; increasing the storm pipe size from 18" to 27"; and, creating more inlets to catch rainwater. Today, Mayor Ted Brennan sent a letter to the residents of Glenwood Avenue detailing actions taken to date, outlining plans to alleviate future issues, and announcing a follow up meeting in that neighborhood on August 6th.