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Should Mantua focus on the present or future?

Committee session involved lengthy debate on that choice

Mantua Committeeman John Legge (left to right), Solicitor James Pierson and Mayor Pete Scirrotto listen to one of 18 speakers who addressed officials at the committee’s Aug. 15 meeting. Joseph Metz

A lengthy discussion and debate at the Aug.15 Mantua committee meeting involved whether to focus on present issues – such as securing schools – or plan for future ones, including the controversial Glassboro Camden Line (GCL).

The meeting hall was packed with people who made their issues known, with 18 people taking turns to speak. 

“We try to stay in this moment right now (with) the problems that face our town on a daily basis,” said Mayor Pete Scirrotto. “In another two months, we have our leaf season. That’s usually a big issue for us to get the leaves off the street. 

“We have school starting in a couple of weeks,” he added. “We worry about our children.”

Leaf collection is set to begin in Mantua on Nov. 1. But the more challenging issue of better securing schools followed recent mass shootings in the U.S., namely the Uvalde, Texas, massacre. While people at the meeting did agree with handling those issues now, they were also concerned about things like the GCL.

The planned rail line from Glassboro to Camden will pass through and make stops in several communities, like Mantua, that could cause disturbances in more ways than one. The line is in the planning stages and will be constructed by the Delaware River Port Authority.

Of the residents who spoke at the meeting, 15 brought up the GCL, with 14 of them against and only one person supporting it by arguing the route will be good for area businesses. Those against the line hoped for a resolution to turn down the project, something discussed at the July committee meeting.

“The government needs to be a little bit proactive in seeing the future,” said Sean Sepsey. “I think that’s what the resolution would do. If you have every town along those tracks saying we don’t want this, we have concerns about it. I think the GCL project is gonna say, ‘If we don’t have government support on it, why are we gonna invest all this money in a project that might not be that successful?’”

The GCL is projected to cost anywhere from $1.6 to $1.8 billion, according to a project website. Scirrotto said the line was still “two to three years” away and would likely be out of his control. Though no resolution was passed, Mantua Solicitor James Pierson said it would be taken “under advisement.”

Other resolutions and ordinances discussed at the meeting were passed with no objections.

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