Bellmawr School District’s 4th Annual Multicultural took place on April 12 at Bell Oaks Upper Elementary School and the turnout was great, said Melisa Montes Pagan, an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher and Borough resident. “Every year we get more participation.”
Prior to being hired in Bellmawr, Pagan taught in Camden for 16 years and she attended the district’s previous Multicultural Fairs. She now helps with planning and organizing the event.
To make it bigger and better this year, Pagan incorporated more entertainment. The Bell Oaks Chorale and dancers from the Cummins School of Irish Dance performed and they did an “amazing job,” she said.
Another group of students performed a choreographed dance to “Jai Ho.” The ensemble included her daughter and her friends from cheerleading and dance. To get ready for the performance: “The girls practiced every Monday after school,” Pagan said.
To encourage community involvement, a flyer was sent home to parents inviting them to participate in the event.
It was up to the participants to chose how to showcase their country. “We had 20 families and 16 countries represented.” Pagan said. Some did posters. Others brought clothing and flags. In Scotland’s display area, a selfie station was set up. Most displays included food samples, which gave attendees the opportunity to sample international fare.
Photo Gallery of the 4th Annual Multicultural Festival by SJO:
Attendees visit the different stations set up at the Bellmawr School District’s 4th Annual Multicultural Fair
Bellmawr Police Chief William Walsh previously explained: “This will avoid traffic coming off Route 42 and crossing over Harding. Numerous trucks and vehicles are doing this now to avoid the traffic control at Creek and Harding and creating a dangerous situation at the intersection of Leaf and Harding.”
Bellmawr Council passed Resolution #03:94-17 at its March 23, 2017 meeting that authorizes the Borough of Bellmawr to submit an application to the New Jersey Local Finance Board for permission to create the “Bellmawr Redevelopment Agency.”
This Resolution pertains to the landfill a/k/a “Bellmawr Waterfront Development.”
“It is just the application with the State,” Mayor Frank Filipek said during Council’s monthly meeting last week. Ten years ago, there was an open landfill. It looks like a mountain now.”
The Mayor also spoke of a recent meeting that had taken place regarding the roads. “We met again on the roads and I have all of the legislators working on our behalf in the County,” he said.
As for the Resolution, in order for the governing body of a municipality to create a municipal redevelopment agency, the municipality must first submit an application to the State of New Jersey’s Local Finance Board.
The actual creation of the Bellmawr Redevelopment Agency would require the Borough to consider and adopt a future Ordinance authorizing the creation, the Resolution indicates.
Pursuant to the New Jersey Local Housing and Redevelopment Law: “The Borough of Bellmawr is authorized to create a municipal redevelopment agency, a separate body corporate and politic, but still an instrumentality of Bellmawr Borough, which would be known as the ‘Bellmawr Redevelopment Agency,’” the Resolution reads.
Dewey Blanton Landfill & Fazio Bellmawr Landfill
Existing within the Borough of Bellmawr, are “contiguous parcels of land, which were formerly utilized as landfills” – the “Dewey Blanton Landfill” and the “Fazio Bellmawr Landfill.”
According to the Resolution, the Dewey Blanton Landfill parcel is currently owned in fee by the Borough of Bellmawr and the Fazio Bellmawr Landfill parcel is currently owned in fee by Bellmawr Waterfront Development, LLC. (BWD)
Fazio Deptford Landfill/Deptford Parcel
There is a third former landfill parcel that exists within Deptford’s borders – the “Fazio Deptford Landfill” or the “Deptford Parcel.”
This parcel is contiguous to both of the Bellmawr Landfill parcels, but is not contiguous to any lands within Deptford Township as it is completely bordered by Big Timber Creek and by properties within Bellmawr Borough, primarily the Bellmawr parcels.
The Deptford Parcel is also currently owned in fee by Bellmawr Waterfront Development.
Ongoing Remediation Continues
“Remediation activities have been ongoing for over nine (9) years and continue to be conducted on the Bellmawr Parcels and the Deptford Parcel for known or suspected hazardous substances,” the Resolution states. “The three parcels have been classified together by the New Jersey Environmental Protection (DEP) as a single Area of Concern and the three Parcels are all the subject of a single DEP approved Remedial Action Work Plan.”
The Resolution also indicates: “The Borough of Bellmawr has adopted a redevelopment plan… for the redevelopment of the Borough Parcels, which the Borough desires to have implemented following the remediation of the Borough Parcels. BWD has been designated by the Borough of Bellmawr as the redeveloper.” (Emphasis supplied by SJO.)
Both the Borough of Bellmawr and Deptford Township have both previously obtained several public grants to fund the remediation of their parcels through the Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund, which is administered by the DEP and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, according to the Resolution.
SJO will continue to provide updates as information becomes available.
Click the image below to view the Resolution in detail.
Today, the rectory at St. Joachim (a/k/a Annunciation) was demolished to make way for a new parking area along with new entrances and exits. This is due to the ongoing I-295/I-76/Route 42 Direct Connection interchange project.
At its February 6, 2017 meeting, the Bellmawr Planning Board granted St. Joachim’s application for replacement parking and a new internal traffic circulation pattern. Later this summer, the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) is expected to install a temporary road on a portion of the property.
Councilman Hagerty said: “St. Joachim will be starting a parking lot project where they will be adding more spaces, taking down the old rectory, making a new parking area, and new exits and new entrances. At the end of the summer is when the temporary bridge will go into effect and [the removal of] the old bridge. The area is going to be congested.”
Jim Burleigh added: “At Browning Road over by the mausoleums, a temporary steel bridge will be put in. One lane each direction with a pedestrian walkway while they take down and redo the other one.”
Groundbreaking will be in April and they have to do footings and a lot of legwork, he said.
The Bellmawr Board of Education (BOE) voted to approve the district’s tentative budget for the 2017-18 school year. The $17,161,235 budget will be submitted to the Executive County Superintendent for approval.
Interim business administrator, Mark Ritter, gave a general overview of the budget during the BOE’s March 15 meeting by saying: “It’s a maintenance budget that is pretty much the same budget as last year. There are minimal changes and a 2% tax increase.”
Ritter estimated that the average home assessed at $168,832 will see an increase of about $30.
The advertised budget also includes estimated enrollment figures projected as of October 15, 2017.
Those figures project an estimated 1,228 pupils on roll with 1,121 regular full-time pupils and 107 special full-time pupils. There are nine private school placements and seven special education program students sent to other districts.
Click the image below to view the advertised budget:
In other matters, Councilman Jamie Casey, addressed the BOE and said that he has been appointed as Bellmawr Council’s liaison to the schools.
During the public portion, school superintendent Annette Castiglione was asked about snow days and how the missed time will be made up. The superintendent responded that snow days will be made up at the end of the year.
The calendar hasn’t been changed yet because of the uncertainty of the weather. “I think we should wait,” she said.
Subsequent to the meeting, the Bellmawr School District posted the following announcement on its Facebook page:
The superintendent was also asked if a final decision had been made about changing the venue for eighth grade gradation.
Castiglione stated that surveys have been sent out to students, parents, and teachers. She hopes that all of the information will be received back in time for next month’s Board meeting. “No final decision has been made. Ultimately, it’s the Board’s decision,” Castiglione said.
Board member, Danielle Tomeo, spoke of taking the students’ concerns into consideration: “It is their graduation. It’s their day. We put this out there to see what the kids and the parents want.”
•Summer camp staff (two lead teachers at a rate of a $750 a week. Additional teaching staff was approved at the rate of $18.00 an hour.)
Finally, during February’s BOE meeting, students, Allison Passalacqua, Eric Pagan, and Emily Perez gave a Robotics Club demonstration. (All Photos by SJO)
Also at last month’s meeting Board President, Jody Mangus, acknowledged fellow Board member, Mike “Juice” Williams for being part of Triton’s 1974 football team that was recently inducted into the high school’s Hall of Fame.
Williams was the student manager and the team had a record of 8-1 that year. “Those coaches made a major impact on my life,” he said.
The BOE will meet again on Wednesday, April 26, 2017 for the public hearing on the 2017-18 budget. The workshop begins at 5:00 p.m. and the regular meeting follows at 6:00 p.m. The meetings take place in the Bell Oaks Media Center.