Council address recycling, borough roads

Council President assures residents that fixes to the Route 30/Franklin Ave intersection are still upcoming despite recent paving work at the location

Berlin Council met Thursday, Aug. 15 to discuss multiple issues, including recycling, the 2019 roads program, upcoming changes to the White Horse Pike and more.

During council reports, Councilman Andrew Simone said the borough engineer has recommended the work for the 2019 road program be awarded to South State Inc., with work to begin later this year.

As The Sun previously reported in April, Berlin, as part of its five-year road program, sets aside $500,000 per year in expected road projects, typically receiving around $275,000 to $300,000 in grant funding for the projects from the state Department of Transportation.

The expected cost, after going out to bid and voting to approve the awarding of the bid to South State Inc., for this year’s portion of the road program is approximately $421,000, saving the borough an expected nearly $80,000.

Councilman Mike Buchanan read water and sewer reports on behalf of Councilman Ron Rocco, who was not in attendance. According to the report, the Royal Farms being constructed across from the Marie Fleche Memorial Library will be connecting to the borough’s lines.

“The contractor for Royal Farms wants to pump ground water into our sewer system. The water will be treated with activated carbon before being discharged,” said Buchanan. “The [Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority] has approved the discharge.”

According to the report, the borough’s engineer evaluated and found the water can be accepted into the borough’s system. Furthermore, the borough’s sewer rate will be charged for the additional discharge, leading to $7,000 in revenue for the borough, according to the report.

According to Council President Jim Pearce’s report, the borough’s EMS provider responded to 274 calls over the course of July. Meanwhile, the Berlin Fire Co. responded to 99 calls, while the Berlin Police Department received 1,650 calls over the same period of time.

Pearce also reported an update on the proposed changes to the intersection of Route 30 and Franklin Avenue, which The Sun previously reported as an intersection the borough is eager to fix.

At the intersection of a state and county road, parts of Franklin Avenue were paved by the county earlier this month, leading to some residents to speculate the paving may have been the extent of a “fix” at the intersection, however Pearce wants to make sure residents are aware that is not the case.

Pearce said he spoke directly to a state Department of Transportation representative who assured him that work is still upcoming, although the process may take an uncomfortable amount of time.

According to figures previously provided by the Berlin Police Department, the intersection averages 24 accidents a year. Fortunately, over the past five years. there have been no reported fatalities.

“We agreed they would do not just a Band-Aid, but the whole fix,” said Pearce. “So it won’t just be a … left-turn signal at the light, it will be a signal and a dedicated left-turn lane. That involves widening the road a little bit.”

In speaking with the state DOT representative, Pearce said the project is moving forward, but it will still take additional time before action can be taken, requiring approvals and various other steps beforehand.

Although the length of time it will take to get the intersection changed is painstakingly long for most, Pearce said he hopes it will be worth it to fix it entirely rather than look for a potential short-term fix.

“I don’t like that we still have it here … recently we did have another accident there,” said Pearce. “I would rather them fix it the right way, once and for all, rather then have to keep revisiting it. I don’t want them to put a Band-Aid on it, so hopefully they understand how urgent it is.”

Lastly, Buchanan discussed recycling efforts during his portion of council reports for the finance portion of the council. As The Sun reported earlier this month, the borough is one of countless state and nationwide municipalities suffering from poor recycling practices.

“We talk about recycling for the finance committee because it’s costing us money,” said Buchanan. “Once our co-op contract with the county expires in a couple years, we’re going to be at the mercy of the market for disposing of our trash and our recycling.”

Buchanan briefly discussed the idea of “wishful recycling,” where residents may throw plastic or similar items into a recycling bin that may seem recyclable. However, whether because of food contamination or the type of plastic it is, it may not actually be recyclable, thus contaminating the bunch and causing problems down the line.

Thinking ahead, Buchanan said the borough and Department of Public Works are trying to find a way to communicate to residents the importance of the issue and what exactly can or cannot be recycled.

In some towns across the country, Buchanan says he has been made aware that residents receive fines or warnings due to incorrect recycling. Nothing has been proposed in Berlin Borough, and Buchanan says he does not want to fine residents, but he is interested in finding some alternative that can get the attention of residents.

“What I recommend is if we ask DPW if it’s possible to just not pick up the can,” said Buchanan. “Ask the resident, make them aware that they would have to remove contaminants from the can. It has to start at the home.”