As we welcome 2013, we should take one last moment to reflect on 2012.
The Voorhees Town Center continues to evolve into our “downtown.” Town Center Boulevard is thriving with the opening of Spoon Me, It’s A Doggie Dog World and The Sporting Club to complement Coffee Works Roastery & Café and Rizzieri AVEDA School for Beauty. Our own “restaurant row” is taking shape with the opening of Catelli Duo and Rodizio Grill — A Brazilian Steakhouse. Soon to open there will be Elena Wu Restaurant and Sushi Bar, Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant and Burger 21. The Town Center also hosted such popular events as the weekly farmers market, the fall harvest festival, the holiday parade and the Italian festival. The Town Center has been such an intriguing and successful concept that the CBS Evening News featured the project two weeks ago as the “new downtown.”
The Virtua Medical Campus continues to grow with the addition of the new Health and Wellness Center, a 300,000 square-foot facility that includes a joint replacement institute, Summit Surgical, Fox Chase cancer program, Virtua Center for Women and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia at Virtua. Also, Brandywine Senior Living Facility broke ground at the site with its $28 million project to open this year.
Voorhees’ five-year road program continued with the repaving of Atlantic Avenue, Eastwood Drive, Sussex Avenue, Warren Avenue, Addington Court, Oxford Court and Atlantic Court. Also, a two-mile stretch of Route 561 was upgraded and repaved, resulting in a smoother and more efficient flow of traffic.
Improvements were made to our parks, playgrounds and athletic fields including new turf installed at the majors field at the Rabinowitz Baseball Complex, upgraded batting cages installed at Lions Lake Girls Softball Complex and new playgrounds installed in the Avian and Greenridge areas of our community.
Voorhees Township upgraded our website to be more user friendly with additional content and expanded links. There is a special link for our esteemed veterans as well as a list of local businesses by category with their websites. Check it out at www.voorheesnj.com. Voorhees also has our own Facebook page that allows another means of direct and immediate communication with our residents.
Voorhees continued to work to protect our environment. Township Committee formed a coalition with the residents along Kirkwood Lake to meet regularly with Camden County representatives to monitor the cleanup by the EPA and DEP and improve the quality of life in and around the lake during the process. Asbestos was removed from the old Abbott’s Dairy to move toward a community use of the site. Our partnership with VECEF and Rutgers University continued and a final design plan was approved for the Voorhees Environmental Park along Centennial Boulevard.
Efforts to create additional Voorhees revenue are ongoing as Township Committee went out to bid for a collection agency to help secure delinquent court fines. We continued our membership in www.voorheesprospector.com, allowing available commercial property to be advertised over the Internet all over the world. Over the last three years, this site has had over 300,000 hits. Voorhees maintained our commitment with the State program “live where you work” to encourage those who work in Voorhees to live here. A partnership was solidified between the Economic Development Committee and the Voorhees Business Association with a Business Retention Task Force to help our local businesses continue to thrive.
Township Committee worked hard to reduce spending and control costs. There are 26 less full-time employees of Voorhees Township than in 2008. We also had an agreement with an energy company to buy utilities directly from the provider, saving approximately $125,000 per year.
Voorhees Township reassessed our properties to see that tax assessments are based on current property values.
The Annual Summer Series at Connolly Park was bigger and better than ever. Our concerts included Bruce in the USA, Hotel California, Evolution and Cocktail Party Phenomenon as well as our annual movie night at the park.
On the evening of June 8, hundreds gathered at the football stadium of Eastern for the first Voorhees Relay for Life, an emotional event to raise money to fight cancer, honor those who have survived cancer and remember those who lost their battle with cancer.
On Oct. 13, the Voorhees Township Citizens Cultural and Diversity Advisory Committee sponsored “International Day 2012.” The event included international foods and multicultural displays to celebrate and embrace our community’s diversity.
On Oct. 28, thousands gathered at Connolly Park for our annual Halloween in the Park that included a hayride and the Voorhees Business Association’s pumpkin patch.
Joe Lovallo’s tenure on Township Committee came to an end. For 12 years, he served Voorhees tirelessly and passionately. He now takes over the reigns of our public works department. We welcome our new Committeeperson, Andi Ayes, who took office on Jan. 2.
Voorhees welcomed Gov. Chris Christie, who held a Town Hall Meeting at the Voorhees Town Center.
The Voorhees Breakfast Rotary Club recognized Gwen DeVera as the Citizen of the Year and Deputy Mayor Harry Platt was recognized as the Voorhees Business Person of the Year.
On a beautiful summer evening, friends and family of Tom Love gathered at the Rabinowitz Baseball Complex to dedicate “Tom Love Field.” Tom dedicated much of his life to coaching our young people. Nothing would make him happier then knowing there are kids playing on a baseball field named in his honor.
In late October, our community came together to stay safe and protect each other from Hurricane Sandy. Our Emergency Management team was well prepared and we were fortunate to weather the storm. The most compelling stories I heard involved neighbors helping neighbors. Many opened their homes to those without power, helped neighbors clear fallen debris or simply knocked on their neighbor’s door to check on their well-being.
A new era in the Voorhees Township Police Department started with the swearing in of Chief Lou Bordi, who replaced retired Police Chief Keith Hummel. Chief Hummel served our community for three decades. Chief Bordi will now preside over the finest police department in the state.
Thank you for allowing me the privilege of serving as your mayor in 2012 and I will again embrace the honor in 2013. On behalf of the Voorhees Township Committee, we look forward to another successful year.