Mayor’s Column

Voorhee's Mayor Michael Mignogna reflects on 2021

MAYOR’S COLUMN  2021We look forward to 2022 as a year of hope. As we close the challenging year which was 2021, we take one last look back:

 

  • The Virtua Voorhees Hospital continues to expand their medical campus. Last year, the 90-ton Proton Therapy machine was delivered. Virtua intends to open a state of the art cancer treatment center this year. This will be the first proton therapy center in South Jersey. The Hospital also opened the new free-standing Birthing Center on the campus. The Center operates as an independent midwifery-led childbirth center for patients with low-risk pregnancies. The “Medical Mile” continues to be an “economic magnet” for the Route 73 corridor, creating even more jobs and significant tax revenue for our community.
  • Voorhees’ road program continued with the repaving of Echelon Road, Kirkbride Road, Bibbs Road, Voorhees Drive, Longwood Court, Fairview Avenue, Homer Avenue, Lotus Avenue, Pelham Road north, Eaton Place, Acorn Lane, Surrey Road and Round Hill Road.
  • Improvements were made to the Township’s sewer infrastructure. The Sturbridge sewer force main was replaced and upgraded. We continued our program of rehabilitating our most compromised sewer lines by slip-lining the old sewer pipes in place. Last year, we slip-lined over 3000 lineal feet of sewer lines in the Ashland and Lake Villa areas. This program addresses potential sewer problems before they occur.
  • With grant funds, our pedestrian/bike path system was expanded with new sidewalks added along Britton Place, Buttonwood Road and in various areas of the Greenridge section of town. Design work was completed for the installation of sidewalks along the southern side of Echelon Road from the Voorhees Town Center to White Horse Road. Voorhees Township boasts the most bike paths in Camden County at almost 14 miles.
  • We improved our parks by adding a large, covered pavilion adjacent to the popular playground at Connolly Park, providing protection from the elements. We also converted the tennis courts at Kirkwood Park into two basketball courts, allowing the Voorhees Basketball Association to organize its first summer league which had hundreds of kids participate. 
  • Voorhees continued to work to protect our environment. In 2021, our residents recycled 53.5 percent of all waste, almost 11,000 tons, saving disposal fees and the environment. We continued our use of Compressed Natural Gas trash trucks which emit 30 percent less greenhouse gases and make 90 percent less noise than traditional diesel trucks. Our CNG trucks saved the Township approximately $40,000 a year in fuel costs.
  • The Township Committee worked hard to reduce spending and control costs. Voorhees engaged in sensible shared services programs with Eastern Regional High School, the Voorhees Township Schools, Gibbsboro, Laurel Springs, Brooklawn, Stratford and Camden County. We continued our programs of side-arm trash collection and single stream recycling collection, allowing our workforce to be used more efficiently. We again partnered with an energy company to buy utilities directly from the provider, saving approximately $125,000 per year. Fuel tanks at the Department of Public Works dispenses both gas and diesel fuel, saving the Township approximately $25,000 per year in fuel costs.
  • We took steps to maintain and improve public safety and keep our families safe by hiring nine additional firefighters. These new hires were made possible through a FEMA SAFER grant. A new engine pumper fire truck was purchased with insurance funds and a new fire incident command response vehicle was placed into operation this year. 
  • We continue to equip all of our police officers with body cameras. Police officers are also stationed in all Voorhees schools all day every day.
  • Our VTPD became the first in the state to be certified in the Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement (ABLE) Project. The program encourages peer intervention to prevent harm and protect fellow officers.
  • We continued our Safe Exchange Zone, DNA Home Asset Program, the NextDoor App, the E-Ticketing System, Project Medicine Drop, the Anonymous Crime Tip Line, Nixle and the Safe Cam Program. We joined the Neighbors app, allowing videos and photos to be shared with our community to help fight crime. 
  • We reinstituted our Voorhees Saves Lives Program. Through contributions from private donations, free Uber rides home are provided to Voorhees residents from any restaurant/bar in Voorhees and the ChopHouse in Gibbsboro from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Since its inception over 2,000 free rides home have been provided to Voorhees residents. 
  • The Township Committee continues to work to make local government more accessible and transparent. We now have 5468 Facebook followers, 660 Twitter followers and the Vorhees Township App reaches 3987 users.
  • Our Shop Voorhees Property Tax Reward Program continues, allowing a portion or your normal purchasing dollars spent on goods and services to be applied toward your property tax bill, thereby reducing your taxes at the end of the tax year. We now have 30 Voorhees businesses and almost 3,000 households participating.
  • The 18th Annual Summer Series was limited to one outdoor concert at Connolly Park. We were able to schedule three drive-in movies at the Voorhees Town Center. No tax dollars are used to present these programs as they are fully funded by the Voorhees Citizens Event Foundation.
  • With social distancing practiced, we held another very successful Halloween Festival, Police National Night Out, Police Car Show, Fire Prevention Night, Santa arrival at the Mall, cookies with Santa and Santa was again able to visit all parts of the town on a fire truck.
  • Voorhees Township is still a desired destination for new businesses. In 2021, 32 new businesses opened in town. Construction of a new 23 home subdivision, Ryder Club at Voorhees, began last year and was sold out before the first home was buit. 
  • Because of the pandemic, we could not hold a Veterans Wall Ceremony. However, we added four heroes to the Veterans Wall of Honor in Town Hall. The Wall now honors 439 such heroes with Voorhees ties who bravely served our country. The Wall will be an ongoing tribute to our veterans and names will be added every year. Voorhees will never forget.
  •  Based on the recent Census results, the population of Voorhees rose to 31,059, allowing the Township to issue a new consumption liquor license. The sale of the license will generate revenue for the town.
  • The historic 140-acre Stafford Farm was acquired by Voorhees Township in 2004, in partnership with the County and State. Half of the property will always be preserved as open space. The other half is permanently preserved for agricultural/farming use. In March 2021, the agricultural portion was purchased by Bill Greene who has invested significant funds to improve the site. He is also planning a vineyard and winery to be enjoyed by our community.
  • With appropriate safety protocols, our Township employees continued to provide services to residents in a seamless fashion. We were the first town in Camden County to re-open Town Hall to the public. 
  • Our Department of Public Works staff continued to do their jobs in an efficient and effective way. Trash collection remained consistent in spite of the significant increase in trash that resulted from our residents being home during the pandemic.
  • On November 2, Voorhees residents re-elected Michelle Nocito and Jason Ravitz to another three-year term on the Township Committee.
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Thank you to the many volunteers who serve on our Township’s boards, committees and commissions.

Thank you for allowing me the privilege of serving as your Mayor in 2021. I will again embrace the honor in 2022. 

 

** The Voorhees Breakfast Rotary Club will be holding their annual Voorhees Township Community Service Awards Dinner on Thursday, Jan. 27 at 6 p.m. at Lucien’s Distinguished Catering in Berlin. The Voorhees Breakfast Rotary Club will honor their Community Service Award recipients for 2021, including Voorhees Businessperson the Year, the Voorhees Citizens of the Year and the Voorhees Selfless Student of the Year. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to Voorheesbreakfastrotary.org.

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