SWEDESBORO — Construction for Swedesboro’s roundabout will be completed significantly ahead of schedule, reported Swedesboro Mayor Tom Fromm. The roundabout’s completion date was intended for early fall but Fromm said the construction “looks just about done.”
A new completion date has not been announced, but Fromm feels that it will be “sooner rather than later” because the county is three months ahead of schedule.
Bridgeport Avenue was closed by the county in order to speed up construction time. The street was opened throughout the beginning months of the project but the county found that closing it would shorten the process. The plan was successful, and according to Fromm it “cut their time working in half.”
Detours due to the construction of the roundabout have caused traffic gridlock on Kings Highway and side roads. Swedesboro resident Joseph Slusar returned to the Council meeting to express more of his concerns and frustrations.
At the May 1 meeting, he reported that tankers and gasoline trucks were cutting through Locke Avenue, then taking either Bridgeport Avenue or Mechanic Street which has a four ton limit. He had asked for a change in the signage in front of Kings Highway and Rt. 322 to mention the limits.
“The signs worked for about a week, but the trucks are back again,” Joseph Slusar said at the June meeting. “We need more law enforcement.”
Slusar suggested a speed bump be installed on Bridgeport Avenue and other high traffic roads. Slusar would like to see Mechanic Street install one as well.
Fromm said he would request temporary humps from the County and then look at a permanent solution if necessary.
Swedesboro reviewed the audit for the 2016 fiscal year. The audit includes fund balances, utility expenses, and tax rate changes. Swedesboro did not have any scheduled finings or recommendations in the 2016 year. A copy of the audit can be found on Swedesboro’s website.
In addition, Swedesboro reviewed their insurance and policy plans through Hardenbergh Insurance Group. Representatives from the company as well as from the Joint Insurance Fund TRICO discussed Swedesboro’s plan and provided paperwork for renewal.
An anonymous donor gave the Woolwich Fire Company two thermal mask cameras. Fire Chief Dave Valichka attended the meeting to show the Borough Council the masks and explain their capabilities. The cameras will help firefighters see when entering a home or building that is saturated with smoke. Valichka noted that they are the first in the county with the new technological equipment.
In School Board news, the Swedesboro Woolwich School District announced that they are now a Google for Education Reference District. Google views Swedesboro Woolwich as a “leader in educational innovation and transformation.” There are fewer than 150 schools worldwide with this distinction.
Pending the approval of the state budget, district state funding has been announced in preliminary stages. Roughly $800,000 would go to Kingsway Regional and $300,000 to Swedesboro Woolwich. Councilwoman Diane Hale asked if the funding increase will stabilize Swedesboro’s taxes, but Fromm was unaware.
“Taxes should stabilize, but we can’t know for sure just yet,” he said. He has plans to meet with Superintendent James Lavender per the pending results if the budget is passed.
Mayor Fromm expressed frustration with the Swedesboro Woolwich District in their discussion regarding paraprofessionals. In April the Board of Education voted to outsource paraprofessionals and substitutes in order to defer an increase in school taxes.
“It’s really a bad situation. It’s sad to watch and it’s not right,” he said. The Board has currently not made any decisions and will continue to explore different options.
There are a lot of activities in Swedesboro throughout the summer. Free Kayaking at Lake Narraticon begins on July 8. The event is from 4 to 8 PM. Registration for time slots will be available online and at the lake the day of the event.
The Harry Potter festival has been moved from October 21 to Saturday, October 28. Municipal Alliance is still looking for volunteers. Parks and Recreation will host two movie nights – July 8 at Lake Narriticon Park and the other on July 28 at the Woolwich Township Municipal Building. The movies will begin at dusk.
The library has installed a new memorial plaque. The sign is in honor of Swedesboro being home to one of the oldest libraries in the state. It is displayed in the front of the library to be seen while walking or driving down town.
By Jessica Zappasodi