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GCL ballot question petition makes up long, public portion at committee meeting

Opposing group updates township committee on its petition

JOSEPH METZ/The Sun. A question on the November ballot regarding the GCL will require 600 signatures, of which more than 300 have been collected already, an opposing group told committee members.

Members of the Say No to Glassboro Camden Line (GCL) group have offered an update on their petition to place a question about the project on the November ballot.

“We’re gathering petitions for the ballot question about the GCL,” said group member Charles Hughes during public participation at the May 8 Mantua committee meeting. “We have Mantua residents helping with the collection.”

The ballot question would query Mantua residents about whether or not they want the GCL in their town. The opposing group will collect questions by asking residents if they want to sign the ballot petition.

“Our purpose is to strictly get a question on the ballot and only that,” said group member Tony Alveario.

The GCL proposal was first introduced in 1996 by the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA). It is intended to bypass I-295 and transport passengers from Camden to Glassboro, with stops in Mantua and other towns along the way. The  project is currently in the engineering stage.

The idea was initially shot down by residents who had concerns about the line’s environmental impact and overall viability, then came up again in 2009 and during the pandemic. The Say No to GCL group has opposed the idea for more than a year now. 

The ballot question was first pitched by the township committee, which has no authority over the project.

“Originally, when Mr. Hughes talked about getting a petition together, I was a little bit put off, because I didn’t want to go through all the trouble to get a question on the ballot,” said Alveario. “But then, everything has a silver lining around it.

“I want to thank the mayors, (Pete) Scirrotto and (Robert) Zimmerman, for basically telling us to go out and get a petition,” he added, because here’s the silver lining:  As we go around collecting petitions … people ask … what it’s (the GCL) all about. And guess what? We found a weapon and told them what it’s all about.”

The ballot petition needs 600 signatures to appear as an official question in the November election. Hughes said between “300 and 600” signatures have been collected so far.

“It should be the people who vote (on this),” Alveario pointed out, “and not the political entity.”

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