Saying no to the GCL

One group is firm in its opposition to the proposed train route

A lawn sign in the back of a pickup truck signifies resistance to the proposed Glassboro-Camden rail line, a $1.6-billion project firmly opposed by a group called Say No to GCL. Courtesy of Say No to GCL

With the prospect of the Glassboro Camden Line (GCL) becoming a reality, one group of people has banded together to oppose it: Say No to GCL.

Counting a good number of Mantua residents, Say No to GCL has more than 2,700 Facebook followers. The group formed about two years ago when talks of the GCL – a proposed rail line between Glassboro and Camden – began to resurface.

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“(The group is) just a gathering of people from all walks of life against the GCL,” said Antonino Alveario, an administrator for Say No to GCL, giving his interpretation of ideas for guiding the group.

“I got involved almost two years ago when I was driving in Mantua and saw the Say No signs,” said Joseph Hetzel, a member of the group and one of its most active and vocal members. “I called my niece, a Mantua resident, and asked what’s up with these signs? She said, ‘Uncle Joe, they’re bringing that train back.’ 

“Growing up in Wenonah along the tracks, I knew what that meant and joined the resistance,” he added. “We aren’t the best at what we do; we’re the only ones that do what we do.”

Say No to GCL members are attending township committee and council meetings to address the potential dangers of the rail line. They include adverse effects on the environment, not only from the train itself, but its construction; whether its cost – estimated at $1.6 billion – is worth the investment; and the kind of people the line will bring with it. Actively opposing the idea are residents in Wenonah and Westville as well as Mantua.

Say No to GCL members believe they have already had an impact. Alveario gave the group credit for the November defeat of Stephen Sweeney, president of the state senate and a strong supporter of the GCL. But he also acknowledged that some Say No to GCL members have engaged in personal attacks on local officials that have gone too far.

“I and a few other administrators keep an eye on what is being posted,” Alveario noted. “I do suspend posters who get ‘political’ or out of hand.”  

“The Say No to GCL (Facebook) page can get rowdy from time to time,” said Hetzel. “People are passionate about stopping this nightmare and passions run high. The (administrators) are working folks and police the site the best we can. The page is a work in progress, and they are making adjustments.” 

At least one GCL supporter has said the line will be a quicker way of beating the brutal commute from Camden to the suburbs. But Say No to GCL remains firm in its opposition.

“My guiding mantra is, ‘If you are for the GCL, you are fair game, no matter who you are,’” said Alveario. “Many others feel the same way.”

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