Borough of Haddonfield maintains operations as best it can

Public works running smoothly, meetings still uncertain during social restrictions.

Haddonfield governance last met as a body in person at borough hall on March 16.

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On that night, the three commissioners, the borough administrator, police and fire chiefs, as well as the emergency management coordinator, agreed the building would be shut down the following day until further notice to stop the spread of coronavirus. 

In the meantime, all business has been conducted via phone or internet, with only a slight change in operating hours: Monday through Thursday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and on Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Commissioner for Public Safety Colleen Bianco Bezich weighed in on how the borough has fared during an extended period when social isolation is the law.

“We are proud of how the majority of our residents have responded, and have checked in on their friends and neighbors,” she said during a phone conversation on April 7. “The challenges we’re still facing now is that people are still of the opinion that social distancing doesn’t apply to them or their children.

“The number one complaint we receive every day, is lack of social distancing,” Bezich added.  “Children playing on fields, or folks sunbathing. That’s frustrating and it’s sad.

“The goal of these guidelines are beyond flattening the curve, they are to save lives.”

Bezich further revealed that she and Police Chief Jason Cutler enabled a special law enforcement officer to patrol fields, courts and those areas where groups are most likely to congregate. 

“Every day we patrol those areas, but we are doing our best, several hours a day — especially on nicer days — to offer coverage. We don’t want to have to ticket people,” she noted.  

“We’re concerned about mental health; we know people are upset being indoors or contained within their household with their family members. But to be distant is the safest way right now.”

Mayor Neal Rochford, commissioner for public works, provided the following update: 

The crew has not missed a beat in this difficult time dealing with the COVID-19 virus. They have been doing a phenomenal job maintaining the regular schedule of trash and recycling pickup. The borough is also in the spring clean month, which means yard waste and chipping are increased throughout the month of April,” he told the Sun via email. 

“The superintendent of Public Works has noticed that there has been an increase in both trash and recycles based on the fact so many residents are home following the state directive,” the mayor added. “New trees are being planted and we would ask anyone with a new tree to help by watering. Our tree crews are also still out taking down dead trees.

“Overall, it’s business as usual from the Public Works Department.  If you see them out, give a wave!”

Commissioner for Revenue and Finance Jeffrey Kasko confirmed in a text exchange with the Sun  that the commissioners were working to schedule a public meeting some time during the week of April 13, via teleconference, where members of the press and public could participate online.

Bezich confirmed the proposed date of Tuesday, April 14, at 7:30 p.m. Details of the meeting, which will take place online, will be publicly advertised. 

A temporary budget for 2020 was approved at the commissioners’ last in-person public session in late February, but prolonged social restrictions due to COVID-19 have pushed back a finalized product indefinitely.

“Final budget is still up in the air. We are extending the temp budget through to either May or June for now. We will have an update on that and other things during our public meeting next week,” Kasko revealed. 

For the latest on all borough happenings as they are affected by coronavirus, visit: http://www.haddonfieldnj.org/alert_detail.php.

BOB HERPEN
BOB HERPEN
Former radio broadcaster, hockey writer, Current: main beat reporter for Haddonfield, Cherry Hill and points beyond.
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