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Bellmawr Borough Committee Reports: Dec. 13 Council Meeting

 

(This article is the first of two parts.)

Editor’s note: SJO is splitting up the report for council’s December 13 monthly meeting into two parts because of length. This was David Spector’s last meeting as Bellmawr Councilman and Mayor Frank Filipek and all of the other Councilmen acknowledged his service. In addition to the agenda items and Resolutions that were approved, three residents spoke during the public portion with questions. 

This first part includes excerpts from Mayor and Council’s committee reports. Part Two will be posted on December 20.

Councilman Paul Sandrock

I would like to publicly thank all of the employees and the residents in town for making the Christmas parade this past year. It worked out really well and shines a good light on this town and this great community. I wish all of the residents a safe and Happy Holiday.

Chairlift Project to Start Jan. 11

We are still working on the ADA [Americans With Disabilities Act] compliancy within the municipality with getting a chairlift installed. We did run into a few glitches, one of them being asbestos abatement. We had to address that first before continuing on. That project is slated to begin January 11.

Court Administrator Retiring

Our Court Administrator is retiring and we are going through the process now. The Judge [Deborah Silverman Katz] has appointed an acting administrator. After the first of year, we will be doing a solicitation for a new Court Administrator, as per the judiciary system within Camden County.

Also, I would like to thank Dave Spector for serving as Councilman for the past several months filling the seat of Dave Duncan. I wish him well in his endeavors. He served with dignity.

Councilman David Spector

David Spector’s remarks were featured in a SJO article dated December 13th.

Councilman Jim D’Angelo

Christmas in the Park was successful. It was nicely done. Thanks to Bellmawr Fire #1 and Bellmawr Park Fire for their participation in the parade and all the Fire Companies that took part in the parade. It was extremely successful.

Bellmawr Christmas in the Park
Photo by SJO. Earlier this month, two employees from the Borough’s Recreation Department make preparations for Bellmawr’s annual Christmas in the Park.

We had a gentleman in town [named] John Biaselli, who passed away. He was 95 and lived in San Diego. He was a Marine and a Veteran of World War II in Korea. He was a former U.S. Olympic Weightlifting coach, former member of the U.S. Weightlifting Federation and the AAU. He was also a longtime weightlifting coach in Bellmawr.

He was somebody who had such a history in our town and did something cool by taking over the Rec Department and had a weight lifting program for the kids.

Finally, Mr. Spector: I know we haven’t seen the last of you. You’re going to be back because, if nothing else, I think everybody learns things in life. I think we all learned something this past year. You have a good heart and that’s really what you need. If you are going to do anything in life, you have to have a good heart and you have one. I wish you the best. I have no doubt that I will see you again.

Councilman Steve Sauter

On Public Works, the street signs [replacement] project has commenced. It is in accordance with Municipal Uniform Traffic Code (MUTC) well in advance of the deadline that we have to meet. It will make a great difference in town.

Bellmawr Highway Dept.
Photo by SJO: Bellmawr Highway Department’s Tony Davey and John Patterson replace a street sign at the corner of Chalmers & Lucille Aves. in the Crescent Park section of town. All of the Borough’s 448 street signs will be replaced. Public Works has advised SJO that the old street signs are not available for purchase at this time.

To David, I wish you all the best. It’s been a pleasure.

On behalf of myself and the Public Works Department: I would like to extend to everyone a very Merry Christmas a healthy and a happy 2017.

Councilman Steve Hagerty

As for the Fire Department [in Councilman Sandrock’s absence], Frank Sandrock stepped up and did a hell of a job and took the reins [for the Christmas parade] and, along with the other guys from the department, he made sure everything was running smooth.

Bellmawr FD Visits Larc School

On December 15, the Fire Department along with the officers from the Camden County Correctional Facility, like they do every year, take toys over to Larc School and present each child with a toy. The Fire Department helps out by delivering Santa Claus. These guys take time out of their day to make sure that the kids at Larc School have a good time for the holidays.

Bellmawr Fire Department Larc School
Photo by SJO. Bellmawr Fire Dept. delivers Santa to Larc School to visit with the students.

Our Police Department, did a sting to crack down on prostitution in the hotels along the Black Horse Pike, especially where the exits are for the Turnpike where it’s easy access. Thanks to Det. Sgt. Bill Perna and his guys for the job there and for cleaning up some of that.

As for Christmas in the Park: great job. The workers got there around 4 o’clock. They didn’t leave until around 11:00 p.m. and made sure everything was put up and secured safely overnight. There were two shifts during that time for the residents and surrounding towns to enjoy. The Rec Department and the Public Works Department do a great job with that.

Dave, Like everyone said: We know we will be seeing you around. You did an outstanding job, not only here, but also in the Democrat Club, and especially with the seniors. All of the seniors speak highly of you and are very appreciative of you taking care of them the way that you do and making sure that their voice was heard.

Councilman Ray Bider

On January 8, VFW 9563 will be installing a new auxiliary. If anybody is interested, they need to have a relative that was in the service during an overseas war zone during conflict and have to produce a DD214 form. They could give it to me or drop it off at the VFW. We are still open for additional members. Right now, there are about 45-50 that will be on the new charter.

Finance

The Finance Committee met with the auditor to look at any deficiencies or findings in the audit. Everything is being finalized now for these deficiencies and the corrective action plan will be completed, if not before the first of the year, then shortly thereafter. Nothing major has been cited.

Our policy book is being redone by our labor attorney to ensure that we are in adherence to all state mandates so we won’t have any problems now or down the road.

Our goal for finance for 2017 is to really look at the State Aid that we get, the State mandates that we are required to do, and any other issues that impact our local budget. Then, we will develop a multi-year three to five year projection with the goal of trying to come through with a zero or minus tax increase. That is my goal as finance chair.

As far the holidays, as everyone said have a Merry Christmas and healthy, Happy New Year.

Finally, Dave: You know I am advocate of yours. I am here for any endeavor that you choose to participate in and will do whatever I can to help further whatever your envisions are. You deserve it.

Mayor Frank Filipek

Christmas in the Park was a big success. We had it for five nights and I’d say we saw between 6,000-8,000 people from all over the county. It is amazing what we did. It did not cost the tax payers one cent. Everything was given away for free. Santa Claus, toys, hot chocolate, cookies, [pony] rides. Some of the businesses donated cookies or donated money and everything was paid.

I just want to thank all of the businesses and everyone that donated. I just don’t want to say all the names because if I miss someone then I would feel bad.

I want to thank Chuck for being Santa Claus. You did a fantastic job. Thanks to all the guys that work at the Rec and all the people that work in the Borough of Bellmawr who gave up their time. Everybody donated their services. It was cold a couple of nights and it was a tough job. I want to thank the Council. They all showed up and came out to help. Everybody worked together as a team, which is the key to the whole thing. You work as a team and things get done.

To Dave: you have your whole life ahead of you. You’re 28 years old. You win some. You lose some. I’ve won some and I’ve lost some. People hate you then they love you. You have to remember one thing: If you are doing it for the right thing and you get up in the morning and you look in that mirror and you say to yourself: “There is nothing that I did wrong, Everything I did was for the people and I didn’t do it for myself,” that is all you have to worry about.

Don’t give up. Keep fighting. You’re 28. I wish I was 28 years old again. You have your whole life ahead of you. Whatever you want to be, you can do it. I think this taught you something. I hope it did because sometimes a defeat teaches you more than a victory. For the Borough of Bellmawr, we’re going to miss you. You did a hell of a job. Anything that I asked you to do, you did. We fought. We had our arguments. Sometimes, you didn’t want to listen, but you’re young. My kids don’t listen to me either, so I don’t feel too bad.

You did a great job. You did what you’re supposed to do. You helped the seniors and you helped everyone that you could.

To your family, you should be proud. You did a fantastic job. We are proud of him. Sometimes, we don’t act it, but that’s the business of politics. You see what happened in November.

I know you are going to stay with us. You’re not going to leave. You’re going to be a Bellmawr resident. You never know what’s going to happen. My door is always open.

From my family and Council, to all of the employees that do a great job and to all of the citizens, have a Merry Christmas, have a happy and holy New Year. I hope you get what you want from Santa.

Hugg-Harrison-Glover House

It’s not being knocked down and I haven’t heard from the State about what they are going to do. December 1 wasn’t a deadline. They’re trying to find a way to move it, not through the cemetery, but a back way. I think we saved the building. I think the State has to find a way to come up with the $400+ thousand dollars to move it.

One day, I was thinking: We have a piece of land that no one is using so that helped us.

To Rev. Vincent Kovlak, to everyone else that got involved, and the newspapers all did a great job.

We will still be on top of it.

(Part 2 will be posted December 20.)

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Bellmawr News Recent News

Bellmawr Spruce Ave. Resident Requests Three-Way Stop Sign

A Spruce Avenue resident asked Bellmawr Mayor Frank Filipek and Council at the October 27 meeting if a three-way stop sign could be installed at the corner of Spruce and Glenview. Cars on Spruce Avenue travel down the street at a high speed, the resident said. He brought a petition that had been signed by 35 people.

Mayor Frank  Filipek responded: “We have to talk to the police. It’s up to the police to make the decision.”

The resident also spoke about several ongoing issues he has with a neighbor. One issue is an overgrown bush and the other issue involves an easement. The Borough Solicitor, Robert Messick, said that a title report and a survey are needed and he would keep the resident advised.

All of the Councilmen gave committee reports, except for Ray Bider, who was absent from the meeting.

Councilman Paul Sandrock

“A pre-construction meeting was conducted on October 3 [with regard] to our ADA compliance in our vestibule here at the Borough Hall. The Borough employees have been working on the infrastructure and will start construction within a few weeks.”

“Our Court operations have been working without a Court Administrator for a few months now. [The Court Administrator] is on leave and we are presently working with our deputy administrators, who have been doing a fantastic job. We’ve gotten very high remarks from not only the prosecutor’s office, but from the judges. We have scheduled a meeting to work out details for a replacement of our Court Administrator and a possibility of working out a shared services agreement with Runnemede Borough for court services for them.”

“On October 18, our Zoning Board listened to [proposals] for construction of 12 homes in the Bellmawr Park section. Those volunteers of the Zoning Board obviously deserve a lot of credit for their time and patience and commitment to this town. The 12 homes are being relocated [due to] the construction project of the widening of Route 42 and 295.”

“So the Borough residents understand: six are being placed on Essex Avenue on a court and six are being placed on Peach Road. Those six homes in each section will be built and reconstructed to the same measurements and appearance that exists within the Bellmawr Park Mutual Housing Corporation.”

“Under Finance, because Councilman Ray Bider isn’t here… Each year our Borough is required to complete a Best Practice checklist mandated by the State. Municipalities that complete and score over 80% receive five percent in State aid. The Borough has historically been given an 80% passing rate for the past seven years and repeatedly qualified for State aid. This year, we scored 90%.”

“This administration, I am very proud of… [they] continue to take the corrective measures to make and address the questions where the deficiencies were noted. The Best Practices Worksheet was reviewed and approved by this governing body and has been sent to the State. It is also posted on Bellmawr.com.”

Councilman David Spector

“We had to postpone our Beautify Day/Townwide Cleanup due to inclement weather. I just want to thank [Borough Administrator] Josh Tregear and [Borough Clerk] Chuck Sauter for all of their hard work in helping us coordinate and reach out to folks to volunteer and to get the event prepared.”

“[As for] business sponsorships, Wendy’s is providing the paper products and chili for lunch. Compassionate Sciences made a financial donation.”

“This is our first year doing this and it’s a great way to make the town look more presentable and a great way to engage everyone to make Bellmawr great. This town cleanup is a great segue for Halloween because we can make the town look very nice before the kids go trick-or-treating.”

“Tuesday, November 8 is Election Day and make sure everyone gets out to vote. It is a very important election.”

“I would like to take this time to offer my appreciation to the Bellmawr Fire Department. I got bag clips made to show a token of my appreciation for all of their hard work and commitment. We’ve had a lot of calls this year and it is stressful at times and they are doing a great job.”

Councilman Jim D’Angelo

“[The] Fall Festival was held and was relatively successful. It seemed like they had a lot of people coming through because of the yard sales. Brooklawn and Westville had things going on. We had a steady stream of people. How financially successful the vendors made out, I haven’t heard yet, so we are going to see.”

“We are getting ready for Christmas in the Park. The Rec [Department] is already out there putting some stuff up.”

“We continue to go out and clean up the abandoned and empty buildings in town.”

Councilman Steve Sauter

“The Highway Department recently completed the re-construction of Haag Avenue in the Industrial Park. We would like to extend our thanks to Chief Walsh and the Police Department for supplying and setting up a squad car out there to keep our workers safe during the process. It was quite tedious.”

“The Borough received final EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] approval for the Recreation Enhancement Project for the Waterfront Access on Creek Road. The Highway Department will construct new driveway aprons, parking spaces, and a basketball court. The turn-around will be done this fall.”

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The Bellmawr Highway Department has begun recreation enhancement work on Creek Road. (Photos by SJO)

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“Leaf season has begun. It is going to be handled on a weekly rotating schedule with the zones being from the Brooklawn border to Bell Road and Bell Road to the Barrington border. [Put] only leaves out to the curb. Keep them at least 10 feet away from any drainage areas.”

“Lastly, the Borough is awaiting the delivery of our new street signs from Atlas Flasher. Once they are received, the installation process will commence. We have target completion of January 1, 2017. In addition to that work, 22 stop signs will be replaced.”

Councilman Steve Hagerty

Hagerty said that Bellmawr Police officers Cpl. John Mader, Sgt. Mike Ryan, and Ptlm. Dave Kenney did a “great job” regarding an October 19 arson-burglary arrest. A male was taken into custody after having been observed entering and exiting two vehicles. One of the vehicles was in a driveway that was parked extremely close to a residence. The arresting officers noticed that the inside of one vehicle was on fire and extinguished it.

Regarding EMS, Hagerty reported there were 236 calls this month and fire calls are at 93 calls. “They are extremely busy,” he said.

Hagerty also stated that the Resolution authorizing Farnsworth & Semptimphelter as billing agent for the ambulance squad “is projected to save us around $7,000 a year.”

Mayor Frank Filipek:

Mayor Filipek also commended the police officers and the fire department for a job well done regarding the arson/burglary arrest.

The mayor also said that a meeting with Bellmawr Baseball will be scheduled for January.

Batting Cages

As for the batting cages, the bids came in higher than expected. Borough Administrator, Josh Tregear, provided clarification subsequent to the meeting via email:

“Department of Transportation (DOT) originally requested the Borough secure three estimates (non-binding) from contractors to gauge cost with the lowest being $423,000. The DOT then committed to that cost, plus the architectural and engineering fees, for a total of $463,000. The Borough conducted the bid process with contractors submitting bids based on actual construction drawings, with the lowest bid at $563,700.”

The email continued: “Add in the architectural and engineering fees, and the total is $603,500. The Borough informed the DOT, and they have conditionally approved the additional funds needed.  Presently, we are still awaiting the revised formal Agreement. Once the revised Agreement is formalized and executed, the Borough will be in a position to award the bid.”

Agenda Items

Council voted to approve all items on its agenda, including the bill list. Councilman Sandrock abstained from that vote.

The meeting agenda with all of the supporting Resolutions and the October, 2016 bill list are below.

October 27, 2016 Council Meeting Agenda & Resolutions

October, 2016 Bill List

Council also approved the minutes for the June 23 and July 28 meetings.

Under communications, Borough Clerk Chuck Sauter read a letter of appreciation from a 3rd Avenue resident.

Lastly, a reader contacted SJO for clarification about the Resolutions pertaining to the Shared Services Agreements (SSA) for maintaining public works equipment for the Borough of Woodlynne and fire apparatus equipment for East Greenwich Township.

Borough Administrator, Josh Tregear, responded via email: “Essentially, the Borough charges for our employee (mechanic in this case) time comprising their hourly pay rate and benefits.  Currently, that rate is $60 an hour. Please keep in mind that the initial step in executing a SSA is first having the Borough approve it via Resolution, and then it is forwarded to the other municipality for their governing body to approve via Resolution.”

Council will meet next on Thursday, November 17 for its Caucus session at 5:00 p.m. The regular monthly meeting will take place on Monday, November 21 at 7:00 p.m. because of the Thanksgiving holiday.

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Bellmawr News Recent News

Bellmawr Baseball Champs Honored; Anthony Abbate Joins Bellmawr PD

Bellmawr Mayor Frank Filipek and Council honored Bellmawr Baseball’s Babe Ruth team for clinching their 13-15 age division. The team received their jackets at last week’s council meeting.

Bellmawr Baseball President, Rick Dougherty, said that the team went undefeated in their regular season and that it was “pretty amazing that they won every game.”

Anthony Abbate Sworn in Patrolman

Also at the meeting last week, Anthony Abbate was introduced as the newest member of the Bellmawr Police Department. Abbate, formerly of the Oaklyn Police Department, was sworn in as a Patrolman.

Committee Reports

The Councilmen gave committee reports, with the exception of Steve Sauter, who was absent. Following are excerpts:

Councilman Paul Sandrock:

“Construction permits have been issued for the chairlift project here at the Borough Hall. A pre-construction meeting will be October 3. Our Borough employees will begin this project next week. We’ve also been granted monies to make improvements to our Borough owned homes on Alcyon Drive and we are waiting on final documents from the County.”

“With regard to Municipal Court, we continue to explore the possibility of a shared services agreement with Runnemede.”

“Regarding personnel, we are working with our Borough Auditor on payroll and pension issues that were revealed in our audit and we are investigating our best practices as per the corrective action plan.”

Councilman David Spector:

The [Camden County] Health Fair is going to be held Wednesday, September 28 at 10:00 am at Cooper River. They are going to be giving out flu shots and other giveaways. It’s a nice event. A lot of our Bellmawr seniors go to that event.”

“The Bellmawr seniors are having a pasta luncheon/dinner Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. This is something they do every year. So I think that will be a nice event if anyone would like to attend.”

“In regard to our town wide clean up, we are in the process of finalizing another work session to discuss the clean up and getting folks involved to volunteer.  We are going to work on meeting in the next coming weeks.”

“If you need a flyer or need any information, please contact me or Chuck Sauter. It’s going to be Saturday, October 22 from 9:00 a.m. to 12 noon at the Rec Center. We will have lunch and giveaways and it should be a nice day.”

“I also had the pleasure of participating in Brooklawn Shop-Rite’s Partners in Caring Bag for Hunger. I joined with Mayor Teri Branella, Brooklawn Fire and EMS and I was happy to be invited to attend. A lot of our residents shop there so I thought it would be a good idea to support such a good cause.”

“I want to congratulate new officer Anthony Abbate. I am looking forward to having him join our Department. I think he is going to do a great job.”

“As for Sgt. Chris Cummings and his heroic actions, I think with all of the different movements happening across the country, it is such a good thing to see law enforcement in a positive light and I think it needs to be that way and it needs to stay that way. The Department is lucky to have him and it’s such a great honor.”

“Lastly, I want to congratulate Bellmawr Baseball coaches and players on the championship.”

Councilman Jim D’Angelo:

“The Rec Department continues to keep up with properties vacated by residents.”

“The parking lot at the Rec has been completed. We took out the old fence and inserted a parking area and it’s been striped and the signs are up. It looks good and it’s being used so that’s even better. We continue to paint the fences up there. We continue to take down the damaged portions. We are still waiting for the new gate at the Bell Road entrance. We are going to improve the volleyball court. We are going to add new sand and put up a new net to make that better.”

“Our Fall Festival is October 15. There are going to be kiddie rides, pony rides, and beer garden. The inflatables will be up and fire prevention will be set up. Vendors are pending. They usually wait two weeks before the event to see what the weather is going to be like. About two weeks before the event, we will have a better idea of how many vendors we are going to have. Right now, we are not sure.”

“Last thing, on October 28, Bellmawr Police PBA 375 and the Rec Department are going to hold the 2nd Annual Trunk or Treat at the Rec Center. Flyers will be sent around. It’s going to be 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. It’s $5 for a wristband to trick or treat. There won’t be a charge for cars if you’re going to come in to hand out the treats. The concession stand is going to be open for hot dogs and sodas.”

“Trick or treat bags are going to be supplied by Bellmawr Police PBA 375. There will be a couple of contests. There will be more information on that next month.”

Councilman Steve Hagerty:

“I want to congratulate Patrolman Anthony Abbate for being hired here as a Bellmawr Police Officer and to Sgt. Chris Cummings for his heroic actions down in Atlantic City.”

“Under Police, I rode around with the Chief [William Walsh] on opening day for school and surveyed all three schools when they were letting out. I think we did alright at Bellmawr Park. We aren’t going to solve the whole problem. I think mainly it’s just communication once everyone falls in line and sees the proper procedures and how to do it.”

“I would like to thank the Highway Department, the Rec Department, the Sewer Department, and the Water Department for getting this project done to help alleviate some of the problems over at Bellmawr Park.”

“EMS had a very busy week with two house fires – one was in the Bellmawr Park section and one in the Crescent Park section. In the Crescent Park section, the Shannon family lost their home. On Facebook, if anyone wants to reach out, there are different ways to help raise money to help them get by and to help them get back on their feet. Great job by those guys who were able to get there.”

“As far as Fire, Chief [Jim] Burleigh was awarded a $24,500 grant.”

Chief Burleigh added: “It was a Port Security Grant from Homeland Security. We applied for it to enhance our flammable liquid firefighting capabilities in town.”

Councilman Ray Bider:

“The superintendent, Annette [Castiglione] sent me an email asked me if I would read it:”

I believe things are going pretty well with the parking. The parents are getting used to the new procedures and we are tweaking things as they come up. We are grateful to you, Joe Ciano, Mayor and Council, and the Police, etc. for all the help they have given us and I hope that it will continue to improve.

“Also, at Bellmawr Schools beginning October 6 at 3:30 in the afternoon, they are going to be having family support groups that are basically for English Language Learners.”

“[Regarding] Triton, I met with their administration. QSAC (Quality Single Accountability Continuum) is a New Jersey State monitoring group. What they did was give Triton a high performing grade for all of the work that they are doing educationally with their Green program, etc. So the State Board of Education issued them a high performance rating for three years before they are monitored again.”

“As far as finance, again it has been a pretty good week with donations – benches for the municipal building, jackets [for Bellmawr Baseball] and Compassionate Science [in all] totaling $5,750. We are very fortunate.”

“Every Borough completes best practices. Bellmawr usually comes in the 80, 81, 82 percent. And now they are up to 87 percent, which is highly commendable. We should thank [Borough Administrator] Josh [Tregear], [Borough Clerk] Chuck [Sauter] and [Chief Financial Officer] Maria [Fasulo] for the work they have done to raise this score.”

Mayor Frank Filipek:

Mayor Frank Filipek said that the Borough had recently applied for a $50,000 grant for the historic Harrison-Hugg-Glover House to try to save it.

Public Portion

A resident from Rose Avenue complained that the property next to his has been vacant. He also said that the grass hasn’t been cut since mid-July and also that the shrubbery is overgrown. Mayor Filipek responded that someone would be sent out to take care of it.

Council Approves Agenda Items

All items on the meeting agenda were approved:

September 22, 2016 Council Agenda

September 22, 2016 Resolutions

Among the approvals were:

  • To authorize an emergency appropriation in the amount of $55,000 to settle a certain lawsuit captioned William Brody & Kathleen O’Hara vs. Borough of Brooklawn and Borough of Bellmawr. The basis of the lawsuit involved the annual required Certificate of Occupancy inspection for all rental property units. (Note: SJO filed an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) Request for the settlement documents and will post them once they’ve all been received.)
  • To authorize emergency appropriation in the amount of $6,800 due to a water main break at Holly Place and Carter Avenue with the installation of a 6” Insta-Valve.
  • To authorize an extraordinary unspecifiable services agreement for Southern New Jersey Regional Employee Benefits Fund. (Councilman Paul Sandrock abstained).
  • To authorize an amendment to the shared services agreement with the Borough of Haddon Heights for the maintenance of fire apparatus.
  • To authorize extraordinary unspecifiable services agreement for Fire Line Equipment, LLC to purchase parts to upgrade Ladder 32.
  • To award a contract to South Jersey Technology Partnership (SJTP) for the roof replacement at the Public Works garage in the amount of $134,200.
  • To appoint Chester Dirkes as  Building Sub Code Official for the Borough.

Council accepted the following new hires for the period of July 8, 2016-September 22, 2016:

  • Thomas Schultz, Jr., Highway Department
  • Gloria Lloren, EMT
  • Michael Karas, EMT
  • Colin Rider, Class II Special Officer for the Bellmawr Police Department.
  • Mark DeBerardinis, Class II Special Officer for the Bellmawr Police Department.

Council also authorized payment of the September, 2016 bill list. (Councilman Paul Sandrock abstained).

September, 2016 Bill List

Batting Cages

Regarding Resolution 09:200-16, which authorized Bellmawr officials to execute the escrow and payment agreement with the New Jersey Department of Transportation for the batting cages, SJO asked Borough Administrator, Josh Tregear, to provide clarification.

Tregear responded via email: “The Borough appropriated the money ($480,000) in order to get the project started by inserting a line item into the budget, but with full understanding that any incurred costs will be pass-thru to the NJ-DOT.  The project is in the bid process now, and the educated assumption is the bids the Borough receives will be at, or lower than the lowest original quote.  If construction costs begin trending higher, the Borough will do ‘deducts’ to ensure we do not go beyond the funds committed by the DOT.”

In other Borough related business, an Invitation to Bid was posted on Bellmawr.com on September 21 with regard to EMS billing services. The current contract is set to expire at the end of this year. The purpose of the Request for Proposal (RFP) is to see if the Borough can get a better price for EMS billing services. Bids will be opened and publicly read on on Monday, October 17 at 1:00 p.m. at Borough Hall.

Mayor and Council will meet for its Caucus meeting on Thursday, October 20 at 5:00 p.m. in the conference room at Borough Hall. The Regular meeting will take place on Thursday, October 27 at 7:00 p.m. in the courtroom at Borough Hall.

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Bellmawr Local Government News Recent News

Bellmawr Mayor Addresses Rat Problem

During last Thursday’s monthly Council meeting, Bellmawr Mayor Frank Filipek said that he has been receiving a lot of phone calls about rats in town. “I met with DOT and I met with the contractor and we are trying to see if the State or DOT can come up with some money for baiting because we are triple over our budget already.”

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He explained that sometimes it’s not because of construction and that the exterminators Roanoke are sent out to combat the issue. “We also sent the health department out there to check to see if the neighbors are in violation with their garbage cans. We are working on that,” Mayor Filipek said.

During the public portion, resident Steve Falchetta asked if the rat problem is coming from the construction. “I’ve been here 18 years and I’ve never seen a rat. The last year or so, a couple. My neighbor down the street had four or five drowned in his pool.” This is a concerning number that could easily cause an infestation of the house. This is why professionals like https://www.pestcontrolexperts.com/local/virginia/ are being called out more and more to banish pests from homes.

Mayor Filipek responded: “We think some of it is. But when you disturb the sewer lines, it drives the rats in different places. We’ve been baiting and trying to be on top of it. We’ve been trying to get the sewer lines baited.”

Falchetta also stated that he was also here for the “serious problem” of having four or five abandoned homes on his street. He and the Mayor discussed the $250 fee that the Borough charges for cutting grass on properties that are not maintained.

Falchetta wondered if adding maintenance fees to the abandoned or foreclosed properties will make selling them more difficult because the town is “adding and adding [to the liens] because the property can easily sit for two years.”

He asked about solving the foreclosure problem in town with a committee to help the community. Falchetta said he is willing to help.

Mayor Filipek said that the banks are trying to get their balance and added: “We are trying to keep Bellmawr clean. When we started three years ago, it was over 200 houses vacant. Now we are down to 80 or 90 houses, maybe less.”

Batting Cages

Mayor Filipek also spoke about the soon-to-be-built batting cages at the baseball fields on Essex Avenue. He said: “This money is coming from the State of New Jersey for the property that they took from the Little League. This is their reimbursement for what they took and we are getting a batting cage and a parking lot. The $480,000 takes care of the whole bill and it will go out for bid. It is going to be an enclosed batting cage. It is not going to cost the taxpayers one cent.”

A member of the public asked the Mayor if the batting cages will be open to the public or if the cages will only be open to the Little League teams.

Mayor Filipek responded: “It will be open to the public. There will be scheduling. There will be supervision and it will be supervised at all times when somebody is in there. It will be indoors and we don’t want it to be run down. It will be air-conditioned and heated also.”

As for the location, the Mayor said that a new parking lot was put in on the right field line. “There is a spot for parking and for the [batting cages] right next to the Little League.”

Wheelchair Lift at Borough Hall

Councilman Paul Sandrock remarked that the construction of the wheelchair lift at Borough Hall is due to start mid-September. “It has been long awaited and again, we appreciate the diligence from all of Council. Everybody has been trying to do this for years.”

He also stated that this municipality received $106,000 in grant money to see this project through to make the building ADA compliant.

Municipal Court

Regarding Municipal Court, Councilman Sandrock said: “There has been progress there. We are still exploring a shared service agreement or a restructuring of combined courts with Runnemede. That is still in the discussion phase. We are just looking at feasibility and if there is any cost and we would incur that cost. This is just a discussion stage at this point.”

Auditor’s Report

Councilman Sandrock spoke about the recent report received from the auditor: “For personnel, our auditor had picked up some needs of addressing and we spoke with our employees who welcomed the ideas and welcomed the opportunity to develop best practice policies. We feel confident that we’ve addressed all of those already that have been pointed out in our audit. We feel confident that we should show great improvement for any type of audit in the future.”

Councilman Ray Bider said: “As Paul [Sandrock] mentioned, [we are] dealing with finance personnel to look at a review of the audit report and some of the corrective action measures that needed to be taken. It was a very positive meeting where a lot of progress was made and we are going to be following up with Bowman [and Company, the auditors] with some recommendations. We will be submitting the corrective action plan to the State within the next day or so and it will be published on our website within a week after that so everybody will have an opportunity to see what took place with the auditor’s report.”

*Editor’s note: SJO has filed OPRA requests for the last five years of auditor’s findings, corrective actions, and for related documents. These documents will be the subject of a future article once all of the documents have been received and reviewed.

Excerpts from Committee Reports:

Councilman David Spector

“We continue to move forward with the town wide cleanup. We are scheduled for Saturday, October 22. We plan to meet at the Rec Center for transportation to the clean-up area from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. From 12:00-1:00 p.m., it will be a lunch that we are going to have. I think the area that we are designating right now is on the Kings Highway section near Alcyon Drive and I think our secondary option is the curve on Creek Road. Those are our two areas of clean-up. I think it’s been a great job by our whole Beautification Committee – Chuck Sauter and Lorraine Adomanis and everyone involved in trying to put this together. I think it is going to be a big success. Volunteers are going to be assigned t-shirts and we are going to have some giveaways and the supplies will be provided that day. We are excited about that and it is going to be a lot of fun.”

“Thank you to all of our Borough employees. It’s been a hot summer. Everything that they’ve done with the Rec Department and Police, Fire and EMS. Everyone has done a fantastic job and I give you a lot of credit because you make the town go forward. The end of the summer is looming and I wish you the best with your family.”

Councilman Jim D’Angelo

“The Rec Department, there are no major projects going on now. It’s just kind of the daily routine of what the Rec Department usually does. The fences at the Rec were in poor condition. They have been replaced with the new black fencing. The fences that were in decent shape have been painted and that project continues, thanks to Mike Williams. He’s continuing to paint the fences. We continue to cut the grass and trees and bushes with all of the abandoned buildings in town. We are up to about 50, which is almost what it was last month. Steve [Sauter] can talk about this, but they are expanding the walking track at Sauter Park.”

“To PBA Local 375: I would like to congratulate them for their Water Ice and Magic Show pop up at the Sauter Park. That is what we have to do. That is the key to police work now. They have to get to the kids. They have to show the kids that police are there for them, not against them. That was a key start. That was a terrific way to start and I anticipate many great things from Councilman Hagerty’s department. It was just a super thing and all the cops were there and I thought it was great.”

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Bellmawr PD’s Jared Walton, Brian Ertl and Mike Draham talk to Evan Carlino at the PBA 375 sponsored Magic Show & Water Ice With a Cop at Sauter Park.

Councilman Steve Sauter

“A couple of projects going around in town. The newly created drop off point at Bellmawr Park School has been completed. The Highway Department has completed the extension and repaving of the walking track around the Sauter Park and they did a fantastic job. As that project moves long, it’s going to include decorative lighting, some streetscape and landscape in the fall.”

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The Bellmawr Highway Department recently enlarged and repaved the walking track at Sauter Park.

“Our curb painting and line striping has resumed and is concentrated around the schools for all of the obvious reasons. We will continue with our road projects as soon as Governor Christie and the NJ-DOT start funding start again. The street that we did have planned, Salem Avenue, is going to get pushed back.”

“We have a report regarding a compliance evaluation and inspection and it was so noted that everything was in great working order and thanks going out to our Superintendent, George Reynolds, and his staff for an excellent job. In the email to me, they really appreciated working with these guys. Other towns are on top of it as well, but record keeping seems to be lacking and our guys are right on top of it and I thank you for that.”

“Our Borough employees, we keep thanking them, but they know their jobs. They’re well-educated on how to get the job accomplished and save the tax payers money. We have a lot of shared services going on. These guys not only do their jobs but every activity we have in town, you look around and you see these guys and ladies.”

“The other night at Sauter Park, I would like to thank Chief Walsh and his men along with his office staff, Frannie (Wright) and Jamie (Giambanis). The kids had a great time.”

Councilman Steve Hagerty

“Fire and EMS are working very hard. We picked up a shared service agreement for our ambulance and we will be taking care of Brooklawn. It’s not a very high volume and won’t put too much stress on our men and women with the EMS. Fire Department is gearing up for their big convention.”

“Great job by the police on Wednesday night with the Chief and the Department with the magic show and the free water ice. The Chief will be conducting some meetings with [school superintendent] Annette [Castiglione] to help smooth over the parking at all three schools, gearing up making sure everyone is safe getting in and out for the first couple of weeks so everybody understands the criteria.”

Councilman Ray Bider

“The schools: September 6 is the opening half day. They’ve had several meetings. They will have three new entrances and it took a lot of compromise and a lot of negotiations. In the end, the initial idea of a drop off zone worked and there will be three different areas for Pre-K, Kindergarten, and some of the older children. All of the schools will have the police active with parking because problems exist all over, with the most serious at Bellmawr Park.”

Councilman Paul Sandrock

“I would like to acknowledge the Borough employees. We all know that we have been through a grueling summer with a lot of heat waves and these individuals go out day in and day out and do a fantastic job. We have to commend them for their hard work.”

“The last thing, I would like to wish all of the residents in the municipality a happy and safe Labor Day. Please remember about our children going back to school so that when you are driving around the roadways, these kids sometimes are sometimes focused on other things, not watching out for cars.”

Council Approves Agenda Items:

Council voted to approve all Resolutions on its August 25 meeting agenda.

August 25, 2016 Council Meeting Agenda

August 25 Resolutions

Among the approvals were:

Placing maintenance liens on properties.

Awarding a contract to South Jersey Technology Partnership (SJTP) for the reconstruction of the main entrance lobby at Borough Hall to include a wheelchair lift in the amount of $109,131.

Authorizing the payment of the bills for August, 2016. When this matter was brought to a vote, Councilmen Paul Sandrock and Steve Sauter abstained.

August, 2016 Bill List

Authorizing the settlement of a lawsuit brought against the Borough by William Brody. (Editor’s note: The amount and details of the settlement have been requested. This information will be provided once it has been received.)

Authorizing the Borough Clerk to advertise for a public auction to be held on October 22 and conducted by Lee Fox, auctioneer.

There was also a first reading and Introduction Bond for Ordinance #08:18:16 to provide for the construction and installation of baseball batting cages at the Essex Avenue appropriating the sum of $480,000 and authorizing the issuance of $466,000 for the financing of said appropriation.

Under communications, Borough Clerk Chuck Sauter read a letter of appreciation for the Summer Rec Program from resident, Bill Evans.

In other matters, SJO was provided with a list of the Borough’s new hires for the period of June-July, 2016.

June-July New Hires

Council will meet next for its Caucus meeting on September 15 at 5:00 p.m. in the conference room at Borough Hall. The next Regular meeting will be held on September 22 at 7:00 p.m. in the Courtroom of Borough Hall.

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Bellmawr Council Okays Refinancing of $3.9M Bond Note

Bellmawr Council approved a motion at its special meeting on Tuesday night authorizing a Bond Anticipation Note in the amount of $3,949,620. The Bond Anticipation Note was awarded to first Colonial National Bank at the interest rate of 0.849%.

Councilman Paul Sandrock asked for clarification and Councilman Steve Sauter responded: “We are just re-financing the note.”

To see a description of the items that are included as part of the Ordinance, click below.

Bond Anticipation Note

Council also voted to approve Resolution #08:166-16, the Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance, statutory authorization, findings of fact, purpose and objectives.

Additionally, council approved Resolution #08:167-16, authorizing the payment of August’s bills. Voting yes were: Councilmen Ray Bider, Jim D’Angelo, David Spector, Steve Sauter, and Steve Hagerty. Councilman Paul Sandrock abstained from voting on this motion. Mayor Frank Filipek was absent from the meeting.

To see the agenda from the Special Meeting, click below.

August 16, 2016 Special Meeting Agenda

Council meets again on Thursday, August 18 at 5:00 p.m. in the Conference Room of Borough Hall.

Council’s next regular meet is Thursday. August 25 at 7:00 p.m. in the Courtroom of Borough Hall.