Township council authorizes grant application for Cherry Hill library

At stake is $3 million for facility upgrades, state and local finances permitting.

At its most recent public meeting, Cherry Hill Township Council voted unanimously to pass a resolution that authorizes a grant application by Cherry Hill Public Library to the state, whose funds can be used toward facility upgrades and renovations.

During the May 26 virtual session, the seven-member body recognized the opportunity, which arrives once every decade or so, for the township to receive funds through a matching grant program. But reception and usage of the funds is dependent upon the condition of state finances, as well as those within the township. 

“If the funds are actually granted — whether it’s three months, six months, nine months, whenever the state actually makes the application — at that point in time, the township will evaluate its current finances,” explained Council President David Fleisher. “And if it makes sense to capitalize and receive the roughly $3 million, we’ll do so. If it does not make sense, we won’t.  

“But in the meantime,” he added, “his reserves the township’s and the taxpayers’ rights to apply for the funds and to be in the driver’s seat as it relates to the funds that are made available.”

Fleisher said that there is no guarantee the township will receive the funds for such an important municipal service, but that doesn’t mean all parties haven’t made their best effort to secure the money.

“We think the application is solid and sound. We know the library board of trustees has worked very hard on it,” Fleisher added. “It’s a $6 million, 50-percent match. But with state finances in flux, it is in our interest to put our best foot forward.”

Council also passed a resolution paving the way for Phase 2 of reconstruction on Cherry Hill Boulevard. The contract was awarded to DiMeglio Construction of Atco for more than $544,000, which was pulled from the township’s capital budget resources. 

With the project scheduled to begin within a few weeks, resident Yoni Yares expressed concern for children on the street who will return outdoors once school is over and while construction is underway. 

“There is a safety plan that the contractor will have to submit to the Cherry Hill Police Department,” said Township Business Administrator Erin Patterson Gill. “The traffic unit will review it and it will have to be approved. They will work with the contractor if there are any changes that need to be made. This includes planning for both vehicular and pedestrian traffic. In addition, the contractor is required to provide a daily certification of site safety conditions.

“Cherry Hill Engineering Department will also have a contractor assigned to the project that will provide oversight to all construction activities and address residents’ concerns,” Gill added.

She also said a letter will be sent out to all residents prior to construction commencement, outlining requirements for homeowners, such as when to move cars off the street, for the duration of construction. 

In addition, a resolution authorizing an emergency contract to repair damage from a washout that affected a home on the 1600 block of South Bowling Green Drive was also passed by council. 

“This resolution necessitates … payment to DiMeglio Construction for an amount not to exceed $132,684 for damages at the rear of 1631 S. Bowling Green Drive, resulting in a washout which was caused by the failure of a 36-inch storm pipe and headwall structure, causing approximately 60 feet of stream bank and land erosion along the property line,” Fleisher explained.  

Further repairs to the property included removal of the damaged headwall and associated pipes, tree and debris removal, replacement of a 36-inch storm pipe, inlet replacement, fence replacement topsoil and seed. 

In other news:

  • Prior to the start of the meeting, Cherry Hill High School East senior Alicia Cosenza sang the national anthem. 
  • Council issued a pair of proclamations. For the first, Mayor Susan Shin Angulo declared June 5 Gun Violence Awareness Day in the township. The second honored a longtime employee of Cherry Hill Public Schools, Joanne Urbanski, who began her school district tenure in August, 1991. In gratitude for her service, Angulo declared May 27 Joanne Urbanski Day in the municipality.