Township municipalities across the country are focusing on the year ahead as 2020 begins. The Sun sat down with Deptford Township Mayor Paul Medany to discuss what the municipality has in store and what residents can expect for the new year.
Within days of the township’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting event — the last of 2019’s many community happenings — council members had already begun planning for 2020 gatherings.
While events are only one facet in a multitude of municipal responsibilities — some more urgent than others — they are no less important, said Medany.
“It’s a huge operation,” he added. “There’s a lot of work that goes into it.”
That’s why the mayor, council members and event planners began their process at a specialized meeting in December. They decided on a list of annual events and community get-togethers the township will host for the next year, including the annual balloon coloring contest in January to celebrate the first flight in America. But it isn’t until the next meeting, scheduled for January, that the group will have the opportunity to brainstorm new events.
“Everybody kicks around ideas,” said Medany. “We pick out three or four of them and we give them a whirl.”
Medany wasn’t able to specify what new events will be discussed, but at a similar meeting a few years ago, group members created the idea for Camp Out Night at Fasola Park, an event where residents are invited to spend the night with family and friends and listen to campfire stories while enjoying s’mores by the fire and a movie on a big screen.
With regard to Fasola Park, residents can expect recreational activities to be introduced in 2020, including a wall-ball court and the possibility of a racquetball court.
“We’re thinking of physical activities for folks to do,” said Medany.
As far as physical leisure goes, residents also can expect the construction of a site for Round One Entertainment, a bowling and arcade amusement chain, to be finished in late summer to early fall of 2020, according to the mayor. That site — along with Dick’s Sporting Goods — will replace the old Sears building at the Deptford Mall.
The replacement of Sears is a push by the township to combat online shopping and provide an atmosphere that attracts potential shoppers to dying malls. In previous interviews with local media outlets, Medany has stated the arrival of the entertainment company in the mall is a way for the township to adjust to the new age of online shopping.
At a time when more people are shopping from the comfort of their own homes, he added, the township will continue to create more options for residents, such as entertainment and dining, to ensure economic growth around the mall.