Progress in the form of the Bellmawr Waterfront development. When completed, this massive complex will have a marina on Big Timber Creek, retail stores, restaurants, hotels, an Imax Movie Theater, the new Comcast Spectrum Stadium (yes, a stadium) and a whole host of other various economic advances. (Who knows, maybe they too will buy a schooner?)
Take a similar tour through West Deptford to Riverwinds. Try riding past the Echelon Mall, now known as the Voorhees Town Center. Go down Route 70 in Cherry Hill. Haddon Ave in Collingswood. Through Deptford, Woodbury Heights, Audubon, Runnemede, Mantua, and Camden. You will find economic growth and development in all of these surrounding communities.
So, what is Gloucester City’s development plan missing that all of these other places have in common? The answer is: direct route access supplies these communities with potential customers.
The Freedom Pier and South Port ideas are excellent but unless we build direct access roads, those plans may as well stay on paper. In speaking with numerous out-of-town visitors who came to enjoy some of Gloucester City’s best known spots, their common complaint was the lack of easy access.
In directing traffic to the Riverfront area, UEZ Director of Community Development Howard Clark, wrote in his Riverfront Restaurant Initiative “…the City intends to work with the appropriate agencies to provide way-finding signage that will help direct motorists to the venue.” Though Mr. Clark’s statement was encouraging, it does not address the ability of consumers to travel to these areas easily and quickly.
Beezer Homes’ private development, Meadowbrook, was very successful because they offered nice, new, competitively priced homes located near direct access to major highways. The Chatham Square Apartments property can also be a success story for the same exact reasons. Our City’s leadership needs to stop spending taxpayers funds on this “money-pit” project. They should stay with their original plan of relocating the remaining residents, clear the property and present a fresh start for an unsolicited developer to build upon. This would allow our City to redirect crucial funding towards updating existing roads and build new ones which will bring business opportunities to our Riverfront developments.
I call on our City’s Government to work with County and State officials to acquire funding that will give Gloucester the real development chance it deserves. If we want the same progress that our neighbors are creating for themselves, then we need to build access routes directly from the highway to the Riverfront. Open up our City and bring progress right down our road.
Independent Candidate for Gloucester City Council, Second Ward