Cherry Hill council passed a resolution at its meeting on Sept. 26 to purchase the historic Holly Ravine Farm for just over $3.8 million.
“This is a significant milestone in the history of Cherry Hill Township and is the formal step toward ensuring that the Holly Ravine Farm is preserved and protected forever,” said Council President and mayoral candidate David Fleisher.
“I’m grateful for the council for their support, and I’m thrilled that this resolution will be moving forward momentarily.”
The price for the 23-acre farm was the average of two appraisals done on the property. Though the township has the fiscal strength to acquire the site on its own, Fleisher noted that council will pursue funding alternatives from both the county and state to help cover the cost.
“This is a big win for Cherry Hill,” Fleisher noted. ” … We are also thrilled to have a seller in the Gilmour family who also shares our excitement that this property will be preserved as part of their family legacy and will last forever within the Holly Ravine Farm.”
In other news, council also passed a proclamation recognizing Ronan Kelly, a volunteer for the Cherry Hill Environmental Board known for his extensive work to triple trail sizes at Bowling Green. Kelly became a volunteer in 2020, when he began work on the trails with Larry Rutan.
Kelly has since become a trail ambassador for both Bowling Green and Downs Farm Trails, and also a pollinator garden steward at the former. Kelly inspired the neighborhood around Bowling Gree to adopt the pollinator garden and establish watering and weeding schedules.
“I’ve walked these trails several times and they’re amazing, amazing trails,” said Councilwoman Jennifer Apell. “Everybody should go walk these trails, and the environmental board just does an amazing job. Thank you.”
Council also resolved to end the township’s participation in the state health-benefit plan; coverage will be terminated as of Jan. 1. Business Administator Erin Knoedler explained the rationale during the council meeting’s caucus.
“The state health-benefits plan for municipalities has gone up upwards of 22% last year, and we have been part of that,” explained Knoedler. “So under normal circumstances, and what we do with our broker, is that every year we go out and we solicit bids from other health insurers to see if we can do better, and we have.”
Rather than continuing under the state plans, the township will move into private insurance. Knoedler emphasized that in all cases with its unions, the language is equal or better, so employees will not see a change.
“The benefit of self-insurance is that if there is an issue, where we have an employee who might have a special circumstance, our broker can help them out,” Knoedler explained. “Whereas state-health benefits, you get what you get and that’s it.”
Countil will reassess the issue each year.
The next council meeting will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 10, at 7:30 p.m.