At the latest meeting of Palmyra Council on Monday, May 6, local Special Olympics athletes were recognized, and council received an update on groundwater monitoring throughout the borough and discussed the completion of the wall mural outside of Tony’s Barber Shop with owner Joe Ventura.
The meeting began with a proclamation presented by Mayor Michelle Arnold, recognizing athletes from the Burlington County Special Services School District who will be competing in the Special Olympics Summer Games.
Three members of the Pioneer Swim Team, Emily Payne from Riverton, Ahziah Harvey from Marlton and Ean Sykes of Palmyra were each presented with a copy of the proclamation and a Team USA tote bag for their participation in the games.
They were joined at the front of the room by members of the police department who will be supporting the athletes and participating in the Special Olympics Torch Run, scheduled for June 7, prior to the games.
“These are our Olympians and they are supported by law enforcement. Whereas you have participated in the New Jersey Special Olympics and whereas you have dedicated yourself to the training needed to participate in the Special Olympic games and whereas you have tried your best and work together as a team, you serve as a shining example to others that anything is possible,” said Arnold, reading from the proclamation.
During professional updates, borough engineer William Kirchner provided council with the latest on efforts to monitor groundwater levels.
“We are starting to get good information from our groundwater monitoring wells, the results we took in April are really starting to paint a picture,” said Kirchner. “A little different than we thought, while we knew the groundwater was headed toward the river and the Pennsauken Creek, what we didn’t realize is the ditch that runs alongside the Tacony Palmyra Bridge is actually what is holding the water table down in a large section of the borough.”
Residents living near the bridge, in the area around Van Sant Drive and Temple Boulevard, have expressed concern over the high water table in their area, according to Kirchner.
“If it wasn’t for that ditch suppressing the water table by about an additional foot, you can imagine what an additional foot of water table would do in that area,” said Kirchner.
During public portion, the owner of Tony’s Barber Shop, Joe Ventura, appeared before council to discuss the completion of the Palmyra mural that adorns the side of his building facing Cinnaminson Avenue, initially erected in 2017.
According to Ventura, he and his father were approached by council in January 2017 and agreed to have a mural honoring Palmyra’s history put up on the side of their business. The work was completed in October of the same year.
Shortly after the mural was installed, Ventura learned through an article he read in the Burlington County Times, that it was just the first phase of a two-stage process. The second phase of the project, scheduled for spring 2018, would honor businesses that have been in service in Palmyra for 25 to 50 years.
“We are now in May of 2019, 14 months after, and it hasn’t been completed, hasn’t really been talked about,” said Ventura, who signed an agreement with the council for the mural to remain in place for 10 years. “To me, it could be on there forever because it’s for a good purpose, it’s to show what Palmyra is about, to show what built Palmyra.”
According to Ventura, both he and his customers believe the existing mural is great for their town and his only issue lies with the incomplete status of the project.
For the bare lower half of the wall, Ventura proposed composite stone with a concrete shelf, above which Palmyra’s oldest businesses would be recognized as planned.
Arnold replied that at the last council meeting it was decided the project would be finished and that there was money in the budget that would allow for the work to be done. According to Arnold, council is considering a solid surface with individual tiles representing Palmyra businesses. The design would allow for the tiles to be able to be rearranged as needed or for new tiles to be added.
“This gives it some mobility and ability to be updated as needed,” said Arnold.
Council agreed to consider Ventura’s proposal and discuss the completion of the project with him personally.