By Chris Concannon
Gloucester City News
(GCN July 12 issue)Several residents from Roberts Avenue converged on the recent Bellmawr Borough Council meeting to voice their concerns over recent alleged suspicious activity.
Reports of squatters, vandalism and possible tent vagrants in the area were given by the very vocal crowd, who also noted incidents of attempted break-ins.
Mayor Frank Filipek read a letter from Police Chief Bill Walsh, who was unable to attend the meeting due to a prior commitment.
Chief Walsh cited resident concerns over vandalism and robberies, adding police patrols in the area have been enhanced in the wake of the incidents.
Some homeowners expressed frustration when, after calling 911, they were “bounced around” from one call desk (at the County Communications Center in Lindenwold) to another.
One resident and victim of a break-in stated she did not contact 911, but contacted Chief Walsh personally following her encounter.
Amid additional allegations of stolen license plates and erroneous flyers about the problems circulating, the Mayor indicated that the Police Department would begin putting plainclothes officers in the area as soon as possible.
Under committee reports, Public Safety Director John Bollinger remarked on a CPR class held on June 25, noting another would be held in the fall, both by Bellmawr EMS Services.
Dave Duncan commented on the Veterans Welcome Home Parade June 23, adding they estimated that more than 2,000 onlookers were on the sidelines.
This Gloucester City News reporter rode along with members of Bellmawr VFW Post 9563, and can attest to that estimate.
Jim D’Angelo continued with comments on the Shared Services Agreement (SSA) with the Salem County Improvement Authority for waste disposal, noting the Borough continues to save money despite the distance to their facilities.
Steve Sauter noted that the streetscape project has begun along West Browning Road, installing decorative street lamps in front of New St. Mary’s Cemetery, as well as a right-of-way passage for foot traffic during winter snow removal.
Mayor Filipek noted the ribbon-cutting for the new Bottom Dollar was on Friday, June 29.
He also commented on the Borough’s annual Summer Work Program and camp, which employs some of Bellmawr’s teenage residents.
This year 53 youngsters began their summer jobs on June 29, with the program set to run for five weeks.
A handful of residents at the meeting asked about area beautification efforts, and Filipek stated they are working on areas wherever they can – echoing Council
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man Sauter’s earlier comments on the streetscape work in front of the cemetery.
In response to questions over vacant businesses, Filipek said the Borough has no control over what companies occupy the Business Park along Benigno Boulevard.
The industrial complex, which includes a USPS postal facility, FedEx and J&J Snacks, is managed by an outside agency.
Homes in disarray were also on the minds of some of the dozens in attendance, and those residents were assured by Mayor and Council that every effort is being made to keep those homeowners in compliance.
All business on the agenda was unanimously approved, with the following of note:
As to Resolution #06:105-12, the Borough authorized a mutual aid agreement, between Bellmawr and Deptford Township Fire District #1.
The next Borough Council meeting is scheduled for Thursday August 23.
For information contact Borough Hall, at (856) 933-1313, or at bellmawr.com.