by Bill Cleary
Gloucester City Fire Chief Brian Hagan said the Saturday afternoon, December 17 fire at the abandoned GAF power plant on Water Streets was started by an arsonist. Hagan said the building has been vacant for more than 20 years. “The investigation is ongoing, but there’s no power in the building so it was probably set,” Hagan said. This is the second fire in the past week that officials are investigating. Sunday night, December 11 a fire broke out in one of the self-storage units at Market and Filmore Streets. Several units were damaged. Fire officials labeled the blaze as suspicious.
THE TOP CNBNEWS WEEKLY COMMENT-Gloucester City resident Mike Stanton‘s observation about the poor condition of the Fort Nassau playground deserves highlighting. Commenting on the CNBNews article, Fort Nassau Should Be Demolished; It Has Too Many Safety Issues, he wrote,
“From the big and small donations and hours of community sweat equity, Nassau was a fantastic community project that represented great civic pride. When the City assumed maintenance of the playground, they also became stewards of that civic pride, not just the physical apparatus.
“If the City makes best efforts to maintain the park and keep the community informed only then can they make the tough decision to stop maintenance, close the park, or demolish it. Until such a decision is made and as long as children are using it, the City must maintain the playground.
“It is obvious the City decided long ago to simply let it go. They believed the hooligans doing the damage do not deserve a park at all. They also likely thought the park should have been located at Martins Lake from the start. *Arsenic may have played a role in the City’s decision too. But if it did, if the arsenic was unsafe enough to warrant a decision to not maintain the playground, then the playground should have been promptly closed.
“Nassau should have benefited too from the 'broken window' theory to have any and all repairs done promptly. Unfortunately, it is only selectively applied. The City cannot maintain the cupola on the municipal building, playgrounds, parking lots, streets, traffic signs, and mow fallow City lots, yet they can cite landlords for deficiencies or accuse businesses of not keeping up their properties. The City failed miserably in their stewardship of Nassau Playground.”
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*The writer is referring to the possibility the fort was built with CCA pressure treated wood which contains arsenic. That type of wood was removed from the market by the federal government in 2002. The fort was built in 1999.
BYE-BYE JERSEY! According to the 2010 census New Jersey residents fed up with the highest property taxes in the nation, are packing up in droves and moving elsewhere. The majority of the homeowners have found that the nearby states of Pennsylvania and Delaware are more tax friendly than the Garden State.
LOCK YOUR CARS! The Collingswood Police Department issued a warning to residents this past week about the large number of car burglaries in their community. “All vehicles which were entered were left unlocked. The best measure for deterring theft is to lock your vehicle. You can also park cars in your driveway or garage, if possible. Police are patrolling and asking everyone to report and suspicious people to police at 856-854-1901. Always call 911 in an emergency.”
ONLY IN NEW JERSEY-A Courier Post investigation into the highway work being done on Route 295 in South Jersey has revealed construction companies have exceeded their estimates by $22 million. Cost overruns for the highway work in Camden and Gloucester counties now are 15 percent above budget. Federal officials have authorized all 31 change orders for the local projects, which so far have cost $168 million. According to the report about 35 percent of the I-295 overruns, or $7.6 million, are due to higher costs for fuel and asphalt. But contractors also have been compensated for planning errors and phone usage. Charges for traffic flaggers, at $150 per hour, have exceeded initial estimates by a half-million dollars. R.E. Pierson Construction Co. of Pilesgrove and South State Inc. of Bridgeton formed a joint venture that submitted the lowest bid for the project. But their costs already have exceeded bids from competitors who sought the job.
NORCROSS DREAM COMING TRUE-Cooper University Hospital, Camden NJ, has received a $5 million pledge for its $50 million capital campaign from George Norcross and his wife Sandra. As part of their pledge, Mr. and Mrs. Norcross presented the hospital with a $1 million check.
“This check and our pledge is a way to honor our past, while calling the next generations into action,” said George Norcross, chairman of Cooper’s board of trustees. “We are doing this in the names of our parents, George and Carol Norcross; John and Doris Triem; and the entire Norcross family. It was my father's original dream that Cooper, to which he had dedicated so much of his life as a trustee and advocate, would become the backbone of a new future for Camden and the entire South Jersey community.”