Medford could still have a Memorial Day parade this year, pending discussions with township council.
After Gov. Phil Murphy increased outdoor gathering numbers, council considered hosting a parade. But social-distancing requirements still apply, and that could be a deterring factor for the township.
Police Chief Richard Meder noted that his department would be responsible for enforcing distancing, which would be difficult given the nature of the parade.
“That parade has kids on bikes, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts all walking in the parade,” said Meder. “How do you keep them 6 feet apart?”
Council member Bradley Denn said although he would like to have the parade, he worries that Memorial Day, which is May 31, is too soon, because the state has not yet provided guidelines for township events.
“We’ve got to get back to normal sometime,” said Timothy Prime, township attorney. “But if we’re organizing, I don’t want to put the police in a position to make some discretionary calls that they shouldn’t have to make.”
The fate of the parade lies in the hands of the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, which Meder hopes can provide clarity on social distancing. If it is possible to host the parade, council will reconvene to approve the event.
Resident Terri Palmer, who lives on Union Street, voiced her concerns about noise and parking due to flag football leagues that play in the area.
“There’s just no privacy; it’s ridiculous,” she complained. “There’s garbage in our yards. They cut through our yards. Most people are enjoying fresh air, but we are not.”
Mayor Chuck Watson said he has visited the area and understands where Palmer is coming from. The police chief noted that his department has attempted to control the situation by stationing officers in the area and putting up parking signs.
“We try the best we can out there,” Meder explained. “But there are people everywhere. It’s a very difficult thing to enforce.”
Watson read a special proclamation recognizing Arbor Day, held on April 30 this year. The township donated 500 trees to plant, which helped it keep the title of Tree City USA, a special designation by the Arbor Day Foundation. Medford is one of three Tree City USAs in New Jersey.
The designation is only given to municipalities that oversee the care of trees, a $2-per-capita investment in tree coverage and an Arbor Day proclamation. Medford has followed those guidelines for 47 years.
“Trees increase property values, enhance our business areas, beautify our community and serve many environmentally beneficial resources,” Watson said.
Township Manager Katherine Burger also reminded residents that municipal offices will be closed from May 12 to 14 as staff moves to a new building on Union Street. The new offices will reopen on May 17.
The next council meeting will be held on June 1 at 7 p.m., unless a special meeting is called regarding a Memorial Day parade.