Many of us have surely longed to turn the calendar to 2021, when we expect things to be much better. Now that the new year is officially here, it’s time to take a look at what those in charge have planned for the next 12 months.
Speaking with Gloucester Township Mayor David Mayer, The Sun looked at potential redevelopment, the rollout of a COVID vaccine within the township and other issues.
As many across South Jersey know, Camden County established a COVID-19 testing site at Camden County College in Gloucester Township early on in the pandemic, coordinating with the rollout of additional sites the county operated and helped set up across the area.
Moving forward, Gloucester Township is preparing to be a part of the process in distributing vaccines.
“There are plans to do a vaccination site at the college at some point in 2021: That’s being coordinated by the county,” said Mayer. “The plan for our area is that there will be six vaccination sites in the state, with one being at the nearby Rowan College of Gloucester County, and we will also serve as a location. We at this time expect to be able to perform over 200 vaccinations per day.”
Mayer said he previously visited another planned large vaccination site in South Jersey to familiarize himself with how the process will work.
“The bottom line is, our residents will have facilities to receive a vaccination nearby,” he added.
Mayer said the township is preparing to roll out a small business assistance program, utilizing funds from its Community Development Block Grant, issued by the federal government. The township hopes to announce the program early in 2021, following approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
According to Mayer, more than $300,000 is anticipated to be available for small businesses in Gloucester Township.
Regarding both the Gloucester Premium Outlets and downtown Blackwood, Mayer said the township is still focused on continued redevelopment.
“That’s been a priority for us over the years,” he noted. “We’ve been able to meet and plan throughout this pandemic. I was very excited to see Dave & Buster’s finally open within the township; I’ll be honest, I was concerned at the beginning of the pandemic about if some investors might pull back and what not, but I can still see active development around Gloucester Township and Dave & Buster’s is the latest example of that.
“It’s a great investment in our community.”
In recent years, the township has enjoyed hosting events and activities in downtown Blackwood as a way to continue drawing residents from in and outside of the township to the area, but the pandemic halted such events. Moving forward, Mayer said the ability to host those events once again would be a big step toward promoting the area.
“We need to continue to drive people to that area and hosting these events does that,” he maintained. “Of course, we can’t do that until the pandemic passes, but we are actively planning to be able to do that once again when this pandemic passes.”
Gloucester Township recently prepared to host three anniversary events in honor of the township’s 325th anniversary, as well as a “Guinness Book of World Records” attempt to have the longest water brigade. The other plans were for a parade and the burying of a time capsule.
All were canceled due to the pandemic, but Mayer said the township hopes to bury the time capsule during 2021.
“Those first two events were fairly large and we’re not sure we’ll be able to do them by this summer, because of the amount of people that are involved,” the mayor explained. . “But we are excited about the fact that we believe we’ll be able do the time capsule this year.”
The township is in contact with various organizations in town to ensure that items can be submitted, while adhering to certain size requirements.
The time capsule would be buried at the Gabriel Davies Tavern House in the Glendora section of the township and opened in 50 years.