Moorestown’s year in review: Part 2, July — December
In 2018, Moorestown residents demonstrated their passion for standing up for change, giving back to those in need and making their voices heard.
Moorestown faced changes both large and small in 2018. From reaching a settlement with Fair Share Housing to tackling growing class sizes, both the township and school district faced their challenges, but along the way, Moorestown residents demonstrated their passion for standing up for change, giving back to those in need and making their voices heard. As 2019 approaches, here’s a look back at the events that made headlines in the second half of 2018.
Moorestown Theater Company celebrates 150th show
In 2003, Moorestown Theater Company put on its first show, which opened with the company’s founders, Mark Morgan and Carol Ann Murray, walking out on stage with a baby orphan Annie in a basket and dropping her off in front of a sign that read “orphanage.” The baby wriggled on stage to the amazement of audience members who were taken aback that it wasn’t a doll in the basket. The baby was their daughter, Juliet.
Fifteen years later, Moorestown Theater Company celebrated its 150th show, and for the first time since the company’s debut, it performed “Annie.” Juliet, now 15, once again starred as the orphan, sharing the title role with 11-year-old Lily Sims for the company’s milestone performance.
MHS Unified Basketball team takes home gold
In September 2017, Moorestown High School was informed its Unified basketball team was selected to represent New Jersey in the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games. The news was a cause of celebration, and the school revealed the news at one of the first football games of the season.
After journeying to the West Coast and competing in Seattle from July 1 to July 6, the team returned home with gold medals. Principal and one of the team’s three coaches Andrew Seibel said the first football game of the season would once again be a cause for celebration in Moorestown where they would celebrate the Unified team’s victory.
Unified sports game to Moorestown during the 2016–2017 school year. Unified sports joins people with and without disabilities on one team, and MHS is host to unified soccer, basketball, bowling and track and field teams.
Council adopts 2018 budget with municipal tax decrease
In July, Moorestown Township Council adopted the 2018 municipal budget under which residents saw a tax decrease. The proposed tax rate was $0.404 per $100 of assessed value represents a 1.22 percent decrease from last year’s rate of $0.409.
The average assessed home of $450,470 paid approximately $1,819.89 in local purpose taxes. The municipal portion of this tax was $1,648.72, and the library portion was $171.18.
The total budget was $25,592,000, and the overall tax levy was $16,293,748. The municipal tax was $14,758,840 of the levy, and the library tax was $1,534,908 of the levy.
Food trucks come to Main Street
For nearly a year, Moorestown’s Economic Development Advisory Committee discussed bringing food trucks to town. On Wednesday, Aug. 22, from 6 to 9 p.m., the trucks finally rolled onto Main Street in what the committee hopes is the first of more food truck events to come.
Vinny Napolitano, EDAC’s vice chair, said the committee is constantly looking for ways to get the community engaged with the retail district. They started discussing the idea of a food truck event the prior summer but didn’t have enough time to bring the event to fruition. This year, the committee started the planning and was full steam ahead.
Neff eager to listen, move township forward as new township manager
On Monday, Aug. 20, town council appointed Thomas Neff as the new township manager. He said after taking some time away from government work, Moorestown felt like the right place to make his return.
From 2010 to 2014, Neff served as the director for the New Jersey Division of Local Government Services where he regulated and approved all of the state’s local budgets. From there, his speciality working on the state budget led Neff to his position as deputy state treasurer where he assisted the state treasurer from 2014 to 2017 with the development and execution of the $33 billion state budget. Most recently, Neff served as state fiscal monitor for the city of Newark where he oversaw the city’s financial operations.
Neff said stepping into the role of township manager, his first priority was to hear from the elected officials and local leaders about what’s most important to them.
“At the end of the day it isn’t about me and what my vision is, it’s about what the vision is of the elected representatives of this town,” Neff said. “That’s my job is to help them move that forward.”
MFS welcomes first female head of school
For more than 200 years, Moorestown Friends School has educated students in and around the Moorestown area. In all that time, the school’s head of school position was occupied by a man, but for the first time in 233 years, a woman took charge.
Julia de la Torre serves as MFS’ first female head of school. De la Torre was appointed to the position July 1 and spent the summer preparing for when the students returned to the historic halls of the institution on Wednesday, Sept. 5.
She said her goal for this year is to listen and get to know the school community. She said she brings with her the perspective of someone who is globally oriented, and she looks forward to finding opportunities for the school to contribute in ways that go beyond Moorestown.
As a first-generation American, she hopes to serve as an example for students to empower them to leverage their differences and cultural backgrounds.
“Within the 700 students is such a rich tapestry of stories and global experiences,” de la Torre said. “I’m excited to help students feel validated and affirmed.”
Art teacher addresses sustainability with 100-day project
Since the start of the school year, each day Julia Mooney forgoes the trouble of searching through her closet and reaches for her simple grey, hemp dress, which she will continue to wear for 100 school days.
Through her one dress, 100 days project, Mooney hopes to teach her students about sustainability and to be mindful of what they’re consuming. She said as an artist, she’s always questioned the nature of things, so after she made that joke to her husband, she began thinking why couldn’t she wear the same thing every day?
She took care when deciding what piece of clothing she would don every day. She wanted her choice to be practical because it had to last her from the warm 90-degree weather at the start of the school year all the way into February. So she settled on a short-sleeve, grey, hemp dress that would keep her cool in the heat, but she could add stockings and a cardigan in the cooler months to remain warm.
Her message for her students is this: “We need to focus less on looking good and more on doing good.” She said middle schoolers can sometimes be very brand-conscious and can latch onto clothing as a way to build their identity.
Township reveals plans for Lenola’s ‘neglected’ section of town
Approximately a quarter mile of the Lenola Town Center Camden Avenue corridor is getting a facelift. In October, the township presented its plans for improvements at a public information meeting held in the Lenola Firehouse.
From the western boundary of the Pennsauken Creek where the township borders Maple Shade to the Lenola Road intersection will receive aesthetic and infrastructure upgrades. These improvements will be financed through a $971,500 Federal Transportation Alternative Program Grant.
Community planning landscape architect Scott Taylor of Taylor Design Group said the township engineer completed a topographic survey of the area and determined somewhere between 80 and 90 percent of the sidewalks in the area are in need of replacement. He said the area has inadequate lighting for both motorists and pedestrians.
Taylor said the township has a deadline of June 2019 to have all of its DOT and federal authorizations in place. From there, the plan is to go out to bid and be under construction sometime between the summer and fall of 2019.
Rizzieri, Virtua partnership to make hair loss one less worry for cancer patients
At the RCCA Hair Boutique located in Virtua’s Samson Cancer Center in Moorestown, patients will receive head shaving services as well as a wig that is trimmed to fit their face free of charge.
Frank Rizzieri, CEO/owner Rizzieri Salon & Spa, has been part of the Virtua Foundation board for several years. When he heard that Virtua was planning to build a cancer center in Moorestown, he suggested a boutique for women undergoing cancer treatment.
He said a salon where everyone is being primped is often not the right environment for someone losing their hair, so he thought a salon where the women are receiving their treatment would be a perfect fit. Virtua was immediately on board.
Plans for North Church, Hartford approved by DEP
October ushered in a slew of progress for Moorestown’s water delivery systems. In early October, the township officially opened the Kings Highway Water Treatment Plant following $6 million in upgrades to supply 1,600 gallons per minute of treated water to residents.
Moorestown Township also received its plan approvals from the state Department of Environmental Protection for work at the North Church Street and Hartford Road Water Treatment plants.
The township is under an order from DEP to commence construction by Jan. 1, and all work must be completed by Jan. 1, 2020.
Moorestown Council election sees Democratic newcomers emerge victorious
Moorestown Township will have two newcomers on council in 2019. Democrats Nicole Gillespie and Brian Donnelly earned the most votes in last Tuesday’s election.
According to the Burlington County Board of Elections, Gillespie earned the most votes with 4,652, while Donnelly earned 4,542 votes. Incumbent and Deputy Mayor Manuel Delgado came in third with 3,885 votes, while newcomer Jamie Boren came in fourth earning 3,819 votes. Delgado and Boren are both Republicans.
The Moorestown Township Board of Education saw newcomers taking two of the three open seats. Caryn Shaw, David Weinstein and Dria Law all earned a place on the board. Newcomer Shaw earned the most votes with 4,674 votes while incumbent Weinstein came in second with 4,010 votes. Newcomer Law earned third place with 3,704. Incumbent Dimitri Schneiberg finished fourth with 3,266 votes.
First Baptist to create refuge for LGBTQ+ youth and their allies
A confluence of events led Beverly Allegretti to create a Safe/Brave Space at First Baptist Church of Moorestown.
Allegretti approached First Baptist Church of Moorestown about creating a Safe/Brave space for LGBTQ+ youth. She said they were immediately on board. This December, Allegretti is working on raising funds, educating staff and getting the logistics of the safe space, so that it can open next spring.
PRISM, the church’s safe space for LGBTQ+ community members and their allies, will welcome youths ages 13 to 18. The outreach program is welcome to anyone regardless of their religion, and will be a place for youths to meet fellow LGBTQ+ community members, get resources and share their experiences in a supportive environment that meets several times a month.