Berlin Borough upgrades include work on Bel-Air Playground

NJDOT grant to fund improvements on local roads

New upgrades are coming to Berlin Borough, according to an announcement at council’s June 10 session. And during meeting reports, Mayor Rick Miller said there would also be upgrades at the Bel-Air Playground on Joans Lane.

The work was funded primarily through a state recreation grant.

“It was supposed to happen in the fall, [but] there was some miscommunication.” Miller explained. “So there’s a piece of equipment going in next week, and the remaining equipment and the rest of the improvements will happen over the summer and fall …  Hopefully there won’t be too many disruptions over there.”

In addition to the playground improvements, Councilman Andy Simone announced that White Horse Pike and some other local roads would get upgrades. Construction on the pike is a state-level project by the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJ DOT) to make ramps ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant.

“That will happen in the next few weeks. They’re currently at U.S. Route 30 and Clementon Road,” Simone said.

At the end of June, as part of the 2020 Roadway Program, there will also be construction on local roads funded by a NJ DOT grant.

“The resurfacing and upgrades to our curbs and pedestrian ramps will be at East Broad Avenue, Jefferson Avenue, and from East Taunton Avenue to Washington Avenue,” Simone added. “In Bel-Air estates, it’s going to be at Rondon Avenue, and Pine View Avenue. In Centennial, it’s going to be Briarhill Road, and West View Lane.”

Following reports, council approved three ordinances on second hearing. Two of them are bond ordinances, but the third is an ordinance to opt out of Section 31B of the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance and Marketplace Modernization Act. That ordinance also prohibits the operation of any class of cannabis business within its geographical boundaries. As reported in a previous article by The Sun and by Solicitor Howard Long, that does not mean the town is banning cannabis business forever, but that officials want to decide on their own terms how to regulate it rather than rely just on state guidelines. Resident Charlene Galiano asked the council to reconsider.

“As you noticed, Berlin is empty of businesses,” she argued. “There’s nothing left. Bring something in here. You see that the voters voted to legalize marijuana because we wanted to make money, we wanted to start jobs of our own. Solicitor, you keep saying no.”

“We opt out on only a temporary basis,” Long responded. “The regulations are not going to be into effect until the end of the year. I hope you permit cannabis in your town … I’m in favor of it. So, you opt out and in the next two to three months, we are opting back in with a plan that puts grow facilities in the right location …

“If we don’t enact the regulations ourselves, we don’t have any control over where things go,” he added. “If you take no action, then any marijuana facility can go anywhere it wants to go.”

That does not mean people can sell marijuana anywhere they wish, Long emphasized. In addition to the fact that regulations don’t go into effect until the end of the year, the selling of marijuana in stores would be regulated the way any other item is.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, resident Jennifer Adaire-Lafountaine shared that although there will not be a traditional 4th of July parade, she is organizing a Freedom Walk along the same traditional path at 9 a.m. on the holiday, at the old municipal building’s parking lot.

Adaire-Lafountaine is vice president of the Inter-Community Celebration Association (ICCA) that usually hosts the parade, but she is planning the walk independently of that group.

“Everybody’s invited,” she said.

The next council meeting is scheduled for Thursday, July 8, at the borough municipal building. The workshop will take place at 6:30 p.m., and the regular session will start at 7.