Gloucester Township is kicking off the new year with a focus on revitalizing downtown Blackwood, thanks to funds from a five-year Neighborhood Preservation Grant worth $125,000.
“We’re very excited about the potential of that grant to revitalize the downtown Blackwood section,” Mayor David Mayer shared. In the future, there will be public meetings for stakeholders to talk about what they want to see accomplished.
Mayer said that one of the capital projects the town will be focused on in the new year is continued investment in roads, with downtown Blackwood a priority.
“The streetscape has already been designed,” Mayer explained, emphasizing that streetscape can refer to building or upgrading of sidewalks, adding decorative lighting, or crosswalks that benefit businesses and residents.
In other grant news, officials are exploring how best to use federal COVID recovery funds.
“We have one project for drainage in the Cherrywood section of our town, but we haven’t come up with other programs yet,” Mayer noted. “I’d like to enhance the business-grant program further, but I want to see exactly how we can use this money.”
As it continues to focus on economic development, the township will also put emphasis on sustainable efforts. It is currently certified at the Silver Level by Sustainable Jersey, meaning it has established a green team and completed actions in at least eight of Sustainable Jersey’s 18 categories.
But Mayer is shooting for gold.
“It’s a high lift, but we’re committed to it,” Mayer affirmed.
After a statewide vote to legalize cannabis, the township opted to allow its related businesses. Those new entities will provide additional revenue with a 2 percent sales tax.
“There’s been some interest in retail cannabis, so we’ll see who applies and how that process works,” Mayer noted. “ … We’re ready to go; it’s just that the state still has to adopt some more regulations, and the licensing process is ongoing.”
Mayer wants to revive events that had to be cancelled in 2021 because of COVID, including the Food Truck and Beer Festival and Gloucester Township Day, among others.
Council was expected to retain the council seats of Dan Hutchison, Michelle Winters and Carolyn Grace.