Burlington Township looks ahead to redevelopment, continued student success in 2018

The Sun sat down with local government and school officials to find out what’s slated for the new year

Until the day of delivery, the content of Mayor Brian Carlin’s annual New Year address is anyone’s guess. This January, though, he revealed he’s looking forward to kicking off 2018 by acknowledging a few goals the township accomplished over the course of the year.

Thanks to collaboration between the council and the police department, Burlington Township saw success in its efforts to institute community policing, an approach that focuses on building ties and working in partnership with members of the community. Carlin added the repairs to Neck Road, a major commuter pathway in the township, were successful despite complications over jurisdiction and funding.

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To expedite the road construction and patch hazardous potholes and alligatoring, Burlington Township agreed to pay half of the $97,000 cost to repair the portion that crosses into neighboring Springfield Township. Springfield, which worked at Burlington Township’s request to secure grant funding, will cover the remaining half. The construction on what remains of Old Neck Road will commence in 2018.

Council will also put pilot money toward other infrastructure problems around town. The Bridle Club development, whose roadways are 30 years old, can look forward to reconstruction.

In approval of the seventh round of funding for municipal-level land acquisitions to be used for parks, conservation and farmland preservation, Carlin and the council accepted a $200,000 grant from Burlington County. The Municipal Park Development Program, created by the board of chosen freeholders to assist its partner municipalities in the development and improvement of public land, awarded the funds to Burlington Township for tennis court rehabilitation in various locations.

Several changes will occur on council and within the municipality. Councilman Michael Cantwell will take over as council president from Joyce Howell, who Cantwell said was outstanding in guiding council through a “unique” year.

The recreation board loses two longtime members in Anthony Pizzigoni and Matt Senni, who are retiring. Tim Ferguson is slated to take over one seat in January, and the council is working to fill the other vacancy. On the Planning and Zoning board, David Van Camp, who retired mid-2017, will be replaced by Martin Blazy. Lacey Walker, who retired after more than 30 years on the board, will be replaced by Chrystal Hunt.

For the first time in a decade, a review is slated for the township’s Master Plan.

“The economics of business have changed, so we’re going to be going through and looking to see how we can continue to maintain balance in the community,” Carlin said of the council’s strategy going forward. He added that the council will cooperate with Burlington County to combat traffic issues on Route 130 and Route 541.

New Board of Education members will be sworn in at the Jan. 3 reorganization meeting. Member Israel Rivera, who served for nearly two decades, retired on Nov. 30, while BTHS math teacher and board member Balvir Singh will move on to a new position on the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders after his three-year term expires Jan.1. Balvir is the first Sikh person to hold a countywide seat.

At the public work session on Dec. 13, the board appointed Antoinette Minors-Ferguson to the position of board member for Rivera’s unexpired term, which runs from Jan. 1, 2018 to Dec. 31, 2018. This appointment was reaffirmed at the meeting to be held on Dec. 20. Minors-Ferguson recently ran for election to the board and was the candidate with the most votes not elected to fill a seat.

Challengers Lisa Bungarden and Christopher Holmes won the two remaining three-year, full-term seats with 2,150 and 2,086 votes, respectively, in the November elections, and will be sworn in at reorganization.

The Burlington Township School District is also looking forward to continuing its work toward achieving the goals outlined in the All Students Achieving Plan.

“As we enter 2018, we are committed to implementing the best programs, striving to have the safest schools, having a highly engaged community and having the most effective and efficiently run school district,” said Human Resources & Community Relations Director Liz Scott.

In an effort to increase outreach to township residents without children, the district’s Falcon Parent and Community University (FPCU) will host programs that will benefit the entire community. “The NJ Clean Energy — Savings for BT Families” program will take place at the Performing Arts Center at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 30. This program will provide residents with some money-saving tips and other relevant programs that can yield big savings.

“High-Ding in Plain Sight with Timothy Shoemaker,” which is not yet scheduled, will also be offered as part of the FPCU initiative. This program is for adults only and will provide community members with valuable information about drugs, drug abuse and how to identify potential problems and drug use, Scott said.

“The power of optimism is the key to success. This year we committed as a school district to spread light of optimism,” Scott added. “Superintendent Bell has suggested that anyone considering a New Year’s Resolution consider framing it in a more positive yet achievable manner, reminding everyone that we can choose happiness.”

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