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Collingswood 2014 Wish List: Patchers' Questions Answered

Collingswood Mayor James Maley responds to reader comments about what could be next in the borough in 2014.

What would you like to see happen in Collingswood in 2014? Credit: Matt Skoufalos.
What would you like to see happen in Collingswood in 2014? Credit: Matt Skoufalos.
In December, we asked Collingswood Patch readers to weigh in with their New Year's resolutions for the borough, and got a number of responses, ranging from the practical (why are some storefronts consistently empty?) to the whimsical (fire Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr.!).

Collingswood Mayor James Maley sat down with Patch to answer residents' questions.

PATCH: Traffic issues and pedestrian safety concerns are at a lot of people's lists. Would the borough consider installing lighted crosswalks, or speed bumps? 

MAYOR JAMES MALEY: There's a lot of crosswalks and we're working to improve them. Last year we did a couple different programs, one through the Collingswood Crew Club, to paint intersections.

Then we've had two retired officers that we've hired back who are painting crosswalks. We were painting crosswalks all summer until the weather got bad.

We're also part of an RFP that went out with Haddonfield to get more permanent striping. That was done in the fall and will be getting done this year.

Speed bumps...Haddonfield has a few on the street and wishes it did not. They're not happy with them. We've been working on the traffic-calming piece down by the LumberYard

PATCH: What about greater enforcement of traffic violations?

MALEY: We went through a few years where we didn't hire people and we were short, and this is an area where we've suffered. We've been working to get it done.

[There was a] combination of things, where we weren't rehiring folks because of the economic times; also because of the pension and healthcare changes, we lost a ton of police officers. That senior level left because the healthcare contributions were hurting them pretty bad. So we lost a lot and it took us a little bit to ramp back up.

[In November] we got those officers back again that we didn't have last summer.

PATCH: First Thursday Jazz concert organizer Suzanne Cloud wants to know whether the price to rent the Scottish Rite could be lowered to make it more accessible to a variety of event organizers.

MALEY: [The Scottish Rite is] priced at a point to pay the bills. Gerry Chambers revamped it a couple years ago and did some different pricing to encourage events. But it's pretty busy. The ballroom, which is our money-maker, is extremely busy. We need to keep the volume and keep the pricing to pay the bills and operate it.

The community theater runs up there; [so do] different school events. We also run events to help pay for it.

PATCH: Another reader, "Lori," asks whether there's any answers as to why some storefronts—like the property across from the library and another adjacent to Il Fiore—seem to remain unoccupied for so long.

MALEY: Both of them, it's the same story: they've both been tied up in foreclosures and bankruptcies. That's the simple, quick, complete answer.

The one across from the library is under an agreement of sale right now, and they're just working out a little environmental issue; apparently years ago it was a dry cleaners.

After the holidays, they'll [likely] have more [storefronts empty out]. That's just the cycle. People who aren't doing well get through the holiday, and then they'll close up.

PATCH: Can you give an update on two other anticipated development projects in town: the DePace Museum and McFarlan's Market?

MALEY: The DePace Museum, that's a private development...we're just waiting for him to go.

MacFarlan's, they tell me that they've got everything together, the last batch of financials, and it's in to the banks.

PATCH: Other readers have written in with questions about the general upkeep of the borough—stumps, pot holes, and the like. 

MALEY: We're working on a contract to get rid of the "totem poles"—all the trees where the limbs have been cut off. 

Pot holes, we won't be doing that stuff until springtime [because of the impact of] salt, snowplows. We're working on filling them all the time.

PATCH: Reader Gemma McCourt asks whether there's anything the borough can do to improve security at the Heights of Collingswood apartment complex, which is frequently a target for police activity.

MALEY: We've really been pretty happy with the new management that's been there the last two years. They've spent a ton of money on improving the infrastructure. Our detectives are housed there; they have an office there, so there's a presence.

We haven't had any unusual degree of incidents. It's been going okay.

PATCH: Last one: a reader who goes by the handle "Future Old Angry Italian Guy" wants to see "more adult-themed" events like the Beef, Beer, Bikes, and Bowie Bike Share fundraiser and the Pop-Up Gala. What does it take to make that stuff happen?

MALEY: If people have ideas for events, we're happy to hear them, and we'll help organize and run them. The Pop-up Gala is coming back for 2014. If people have other ideas, we're more than happy to entertain them. 

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