Gloucester Township looks ahead to what’s to come in 2017

Mayor Dave Mayer and Police Chief Harry Earle detail what’s to come, from economic development, to solar energy projects, to increase police training and more.

Gloucester Township officials and emergency personnel are already looking ahead to 2017 and what’s in store for the next 12 months.

Mayor Dave Mayer said there’s a lot in store for the New Year, and one of the township’s main priorities is economic development.

“We are creating a small business loan program to help small businesses expand,” he said. “Quite a few projects are in the works, including bringing Lidl, a popular European grocery store chain, to the Blackwood-Clementon Road corridor. Other projects along that corridor include a new Republic Bank and an expansion of Entenmanns Bakery.”

Another priority for Mayer and council is no municipal tax increases for 2017.

“2017 will be my eighth budget as mayor,” he said. “Not raising the municipal tax in 2017 would be the sixth out of eight years I’ve been in office that we did not raise taxes.”

Mayer also said the township will continue to work on its environmental green initiatives, including solar energy projects.

“We have the largest shared services star project in the state of New Jersey, a six-megawatt system,” he said. “We’ve worked with two school districts to make that happen. We are going to continue with those projects, and we will also be going live with a three-megawatt project on Somerdale Road where the old Owens Corning facility used to be. We are not only making revenue, but creating a renewable energy project out of it.”

The Gloucester Township Police Department also has plans to increase training and improve its relationship with the community.

“We plan on enhancing training that is provided to our officers to ensure it involves hands-on scenarios to improve everyone’s safety,” Chief Harry Earle said. “We also plan on involving civilian volunteers in the police department to help strengthen our ties with the community and expand our third gear policing strategies involving many practices beyond arrest, such as programs to assist those suffering from addiction and mental illness.”

In addition to all the plans and initiatives for 2017, the start of a New Year means, for some, making resolutions.

Mayer wants to get up to speed with all the new technology and keep up with his kids.

“I want to get more technology savvy in 2017,” he said. “My children know all the stuff, and I want to become more educated with using technology. Kids are so converse in it now, you want to keep up. I’m going to try to do that.”

Earle hopes to spend less time indoors and more time with his family.

“My New Year’s resolutions are to spend more time outdoors, especially camping and biking,” he said. “Also, I want to participate in more family activities with my family again, especially those that are outdoors.”

Lt. John Swack, who recently took over as the community relations supervisor, said he’s looking forward to the challenges the new position will bring in the New Year.

“I want to be here to better serve the community and to learn the job and make a difference,” he said. “With all the programs we came out with and getting more involved with the community itself, I think it’s a good change of pace. It’s a new challenge and I’m looking forward to it.”