By Robert Holt
SWEDESBORO — At their meeting on Feb. 18, the Swedesboro Council adopted an ordinance that would ban smoking in the community’s parks and recreation facilities.
The ordinance, introduced at the last Council meeting, amended a chapter in Swedesboro’s general legislation titled Parks and Lakes Regulations. “This eliminates all smoking in the parks and recreation areas in the Borough of Swedesboro,” announced Mayor Tom Fromm.
Swedesboro will be joining a growing number of New Jersey communities in this action. More than 220 municipalities and counties in New Jersey have eliminated or restricted smoking in parks, playgrounds, recreation fields, pools, beaches, or near government buildings, according to New Jersey Global Advisor Smokefree Policy. The site says outdoor secondhand smoke presents a health hazard to people, animals, and the environment, and there is no safe level of exposure.
The Council also moved to reword Swedesboro’s zoning ordinance due to uncertainty in the wording of the legislation. The change in language was recommended by the community Planning and Zoning Board, and would permit only one principal use and accessory uses for a building.
“We don’t talk about dual uses for our lots in our redevelopment plan,” explained Fromm. We were told that’s not entirely clear.”
Council also adopted an ordinance that would allow Swedesboro to exceed the municipal budget appropriation limits for 2014 and to establish a Cap Bank. “We’re going to have a really tight budget this year,” noted Fromm. “Chief Financial Officer Jeff Coles has the framework for a preliminary budget, and we’ll look at it.”
Earlier, during the police report by Lieutenant Joseph Morgan, Councilmembers Diane Hale and Sam Casella, expressed concerns about truck traffic on Lake Avenue.
Trucks heavier than four tons are restricted from the road. Casella estimated that he had seen at least eight trucks on the road earlier in the day.
Morgan said, “They offer the usual excuses, like they didn’t know the law, or they weren’t from the area.” Councilmember George Weeks called for a zero tolerance policy for trucks on Lake Avenue. He stated, “They’re professional drivers, they should be alert for signs.”
“This can’t go on,” Fromm added. “Someone’s going to be killed on that street. This isn’t going away.”
Morgan later mentioned that he expects the Woolwich Township Police Department to be built up by summer. The local force currently has 17 full-time officers.
In other reports, Fromm and Casella commended the Public Works Department for their efforts in snow removal this winter. “They are a very professional outfit,” lauded Casella.
Swedesboro also faced a frozen sewer line that services Kingsway, Rode’s and Vesuvio’s around the weekend of the Martin Luther King Day holiday. The pipes froze after Kingsway had a snow day off that Friday, and combined with severe winter temperatures, left nothing flowing through the pipes for four days.
Council promised to keep a closer eye on the situation to prevent reoccurrences.
In Economic Development, Hale said her department was trying to improve the community’s website, and welcomed suggestions. Councilmember Patrick Wilbraham mentioned that he gets his share of requests about the site.
“We’re just trying to make it easier for everyone to negotiate”, pointed out Hale. “It’s still a learning process.”
In Parks and Recreation, Councilmember Joanna Gahrs noted that Father Daughter dances, which have been successful in the past, are coming up on the event schedule again in March. Gahrs also announced that Scout Troop 13 member Joseph Bussott had obtained the rank of Eagle Scout in February.
For his project, Bussott organized the retiling of bathroom floors at Bethesda United Methodist Church in Swedesboro. He met with church representatives about his plans for hours, and he secured funding through family members and a donation from Home Depot.
Joseph Bussott will be recognized at a ceremony on April 6.