Mayor continues to improve the look of the township in new year

Various commercial, retail and residential projects are the center of Manzo’s 2019 goals

By KRYSTAL NURSE

The Sun

Harrison Township Mayor Louis Manzo is looking to see either the completion or groundbreaking of several major commercial, retail and residential projects in the new year.

In 2018, Manzo said the township had its first liquor store open, which, he added, marked the end of Harrison Township being known as a “dry town,” a phrase used to describe areas that do not sell alcohol. The Naples restaurant, he said, is looking to also serve alcohol in 2019 with its purchase of a liquor license with intent to operate a pub or a bar.

“It’s a big deal and it’s a beautiful renovation and addition they’re doing around February of 2019,” said Manzo.

He went on to add it will be a complement to the town to have a restaurant to grab a cocktail and glass of wine with dinner as opposed to the many Bring Your Own Beverage locations.

A Dunkin’ Donuts is scheduled to break ground in the middle of the year on North Main Street toward Clearview. The township is also seeking to have a developer put in street lamps and sidewalks to connect the neighborhoods to the street.

The new Inspira Hospital is expected to be completed sometime in the fall, and Manzo said developers are also looking to break ground on a new cancer center around it.

“It’s a monumental impact on the region to have a top-notch cancer center right here in our town,” said Manzo. “You’d have to, before, go to Philadelphia or Camden for cancer treatment and it’s a big deal. We expect it to come to fruition in 2019.”

One of the things he mentioned he’s been receiving criticism on since he took office nearly a decade ago was the Richwood Town Center project near the Routes 55 and 322 interchange. He blamed much of the stalling to the instability of the economy, however, with it picking up, the developer, Madison Marquette, is in talks with the Joint Land Use Board and himself on what the town center will have.

“Brick and mortar retail has changed all because of the Amazon effect,” said Manzo. “People shop at home, online and it’s delivered right to your door. The traditional brick and mortar retail stores, it’s just a different world now.”

He went on to add residential properties will be located throughout the project and boutique-like stores, eateries and Franks Theater will fill out the open space.

Proposed site plans are available on the developer’s website, www.MadisonMarquette.com, by searching “Richwood,” however, they are subject to change. It is unknown when ground will break.

“We’re not going to have developments pop up in the Mullica Hill section any longer,” said Manzo. “There may be a couple here and there, but the rest of it will all happen out there in the interchange where it’s open.”

He emphasized the historic feel of Mullica Hill, the vast amount of farmland and open, green space it possesses and the overall community connection as being reasons to prevent the “New Jersey sprawl” seen in several towns.

“We’re not just going to have a Walmart slapped up out there because it’s going to be a big tax bill they’re going to pay us,” said Manzo. “We are in the position to say ‘no’ to that and create the community vibe and not lose the charm of the downtown, but yet still allow some development.”

Manzo said the township has seen residents enter and exit through a revolving door as the oldest retire, others are raising kids and the youngest are coming back after completing higher education to start a family.

“That’s the vibe and the community connection that we see in the younger generation that we’ve raised here, in us that came here for the reasons that it is and now we don’t want to leave,” said Manzo.

He added the township committee will continue to work closely with school districts as they move through their funding cuts and provide help wherever necessary.

The partnership, he added, helps everyone, including taxpayers, as the schools won’t have to change their rate if enough help comes in and could alleviate much of the stress on homeowners.

Manzo said residents can expect to hear about several upcoming celebrations and recognitions throughout the year as Harrison Township celebrates its 175th anniversary through its Mullica HI’ll Connect program.

“If I would ask of anyone in our community, it would be to become more engaged if you are able,” said Manzo. “Come to a meeting if they’re able to, or to just pay attention to the stuff they hear through the HI’ll Connect process where we’re going to continue to put the word on what’s happening in town and they’re aware.”