At its latest public session in the weeks since Cherry Hill Mayor Susan Shin Angulo declared town hall closed to limit the spread of coronavirus, township council gathered in the virtual realm to conduct its affairs.
During that April 13 meeting — the first since the seven-member body gathered for an emergency session on March 19 — council passed a series of resolutions, including one that ratified a shared services agreement between Camden County and the township for improvements to Kresson Road.
Although unrelated to the expected work on Brace Road at Kresson that is supposed to add a dedicated turning lane, Township Business Administrator Erin Patterson Gill confirmed the agreement involves only milling and overlay work on Kresson itself.
Shin Angulo marked the occasion of the meeting by acknowledging the township is living in unprecedented times, where the whole community has been turned upside down. But she offered that it is also a community of strength, resiliency and hope.
She also doubled down on a decision that has drawn some criticism, in light of efforts to maintain strict social distancing guidelines while allowing the population to leave their homes for a brief respite in nature.
“While we had hoped to keep our trails open, we decided that we too would close our trails. We did not want Cherry Hill to become the regional destination people come to, and worsen the spread of COVID-19,” the mayor stated.
“I could not, and would not, allow a decision I had control over to jeopardize the health of our residents. I promise you that each decision I make right now is made with careful consideration and empathy for all you’re doing during this crisis.”
Council member Carole Roskoph was clearly emotional during the meeting in giving thanks to township police, fire and EMT personnel for keeping alert and aware around the clock since the coronavirus crisis escalated. She offered particular recognition to Police Chief William “Bud” Monaghan and Fire Chief Chris Callan.
In addition, Roskoph praised Cherry Hill Public Schools for its efforts during the school shutdown, particularly for the district’s attention to organizing and coordinating the distribution of meals for children in need.
“The gratitude we have for all of those on the front lines … is immense,” said council President David Fleisher. “We want everyone to recognize that we still have a long road ahead of us. In the short run, there is a health crisis that needs to get under control. It is going to be a process, not an event.
“We want you to know we are ready for the long game,” he added. “As we make those decisions which drive that, we are guided by four priorities: the health and well-being of our employees, to remain financially strong and to protect the taxpayer, while working together to lift each other and lift our community.”
In other news:
- All seven council members, Angulo, as well as Township Solicitor Emeshe Arzon, Township Clerk Nancy Saffos, Township Controller Michelle Samalonis, Gill and Monaghan participated in the meeting from separate, individual locations.
- The moment of silence that typically starts a meeting included condolences to the family of former Mayor John Rocco and ShopRite scion Steve Ravitz.
- Council additionally passed a trio of resolutions supporting applications to improve recreational facilities, including one for $45,000 for upgrades to Lewis Memorial Park and another in the amount of $25,000 to improve the Rita Faiola Memorial Playground.
- The next virtual council meeting is scheduled for April 27.