Haddonfield history remembered at Mechanics Street

The beautification of downtown Haddonfield continues, as borough officials recently announced a complete makeover for Mechanics Street, with construction slated to start in early June.

Borough Administrator Sharon McCullough said the cost would be covered through a federal transportation grant that was awarded to Haddonfield for more than $830,000.

The original grant for about $560,000, she said, but has since been increased. It will be used for an extensive streetscape project along the entire length of Mechanics Street, McCullough said, culminating in a small park being constructed at the end of the roadway near the intersection of Mechanics, Clement Street and Haddon Avenue.

The project had to be “transportation” themed, McCullough said, so the borough is focusing on the old carriage house and blacksmith shop that was located on the street in the late 19th century.

The project would effectively form a “path” from the Kings Court beautification project that was completed several years ago, McCullough said, with the same type of bricks to be used in the crosswalk to the other side of Kings Highway and down Mechanics Street.

The street itself would also be narrowed to allow for handicap access for pedestrians, McCullough said.

“For years, one of the complaints we’ve always heard is that the side streets don’t receive as much attention as Kings Highway,” McCullough said. “Hopefully, this and the Tanner Street project will give them the attention and the feel of the main highway.”

The park at the intersection is to include a garden with a small pedestal in the center, McCullough said, and would likely feature a different statue on loan from the Markeim Arts Center each month.

The featured statues will have been created by various high school students who have submitted them to the art center.

While the project is under construction, McCullough said the streets would receive a new water utility line, storm water improvements and some spot repairs for the sewer lines as well.

The borough will foot the bill for these improvements, McCullough said, but she declined to estimate how much the project would cost as the bids are currently out for the construction work.

The borough also originally looked into painting a mural on the side of the Harrison’s Building, McCullough said, but it wasn’t cost feasible. It’s still an option if the borough can find a decent price for the work, she said.

It’s the borough’s thought that the bids will come in soon. The project has a fall completion timeline.