Council president addresses event cancellations at council meeting

Trunk or Treat is cancelled, but Halloween Trick or Treating is not.

After the cancellation of the Food Truck and Beer Festival on Saturday, Oct. 16 and the annual Trunk or Treat on Oct. 29, resident Elizabeth Dugan asked what many others had been wondering at the council meeting on Oct. 13: “Why was the Citizens Appreciation Ceremony (on Oct. 9) safe to have, but the Food Truck event and the Trunk or Treat not?”

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Council President Orlando Mercado explained that he is responsible for coordinating the Trunk or Treat event and he did not feel comfortable having it due to the large number of people who have attended in the past and because kids under the age of 12 are currently unable to be vaccinated.

Mercado described how he started the event in 2014, in response to residents falsely indicating that the mayor was trying to cancel Halloween. Since then, the event has drawn crowds of up to 5,000 people with kids waiting to collect candy from 60 vehicles for up to 2 hours.

“Halloween is not cancelled, children can still trick or treat in their neighborhoods,” Mercado said. “There are other events that children can participate in. If anyone has an issue with that, they can contact me directly regarding the Trunk or Treat event.”

For the Food Truck and Beer Festival scheduled for Saturday Oct. 16 that would have benefitted the Gloucester Township Scholarship Committee, Mercado shared that the event was cancelled due to a shortage of food trucks and volunteers in addition to COVID concerns. He referenced that Mainstage’s decision to cancel it’s annual pumpkin festival, previously scheduled to take place Oct. 3, was also made due to lack of volunteers and resources.

Also during public comments, resident Andrew Gardner spoke about the difficulties of finding records for asset ownership. His comment was based on his experience trying to find out who owned the retaining wall on the edge of his property, to see who would be responsible for fixing it. Rather than asking council to find out who is responsible, he asked that they consider adopting an ordinance that would make planned developments show proof of assets in the future.

“There’s a bigger problem here regarding record keeping, and more specifically assets that deal with runoff retention and their ownership,” Gardner said. “It’s really difficult to find ownership. That’s really the biggest issue, to make it very clear in the deed and the title documentation of these assets and the ownership of them in very specific language saying, ‘This HOA (Home Owner Association), if this HOA goes away then it’s this municipality and then it’s the individual’ and that way we don’t run into these kinds of ownership issues with other people in the community.”

No action was taken, but Carlamere took notes, and Mercado shared that from past experience, the township has very little authority when it comes to governing HOAs.

In other news:

  • The township resolved to accept the bid for a new recycling truck, to be received around May 2022. The useful life is 10 years. Mercado and  Business Administrator Tom Cardis explained that it would replace a truck that had previously burned up and that they received insurance money for, but hadn’t yet replaced it.
  • Police Chief David Harkins announced that the child who was reported missing was located and returned safely. “I thank the town and the administration for their support,” he said. “For the officers to have that kind of stuff, it was good training for us, and I’m confident that we’re as prepared as we can be to handle this kind of stuff.”

The next council meeting is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 25, at 7:30 p.m. in the Municipal Building. The meeting will also be livestreamed.

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