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Pitman and Gloucester City, Two Small Communities, One With Pride, The Other Without

CNB Editorial

William E. Cleary Sr. | CNBNews

Pitman, NJ population 8,805, 2.2 square miles,

Gloucester City, NJ population 11,200, 2.8 square miles



As you watch Mr. Fisher's video there are two things that stand out when you compare Pitman with the City of Gloucester City. The first is that unlike many areas of Gloucester City that are littered with trash of all kinds you see no litter at all in Pitman during this 9 minute tour. 

The other is community pride. The video reveals the business owners and residents in Pitman are  particular about the appearances of their property.

But not so much in Gloucester City. A short walk beginning on South Broadway heading north towards Camden City and you'll find litter everywhere starting with the CVS/Dunkin Donuts Plaza to the Monmouth Street business district and beyond. 

video courtesy of Alan Fisher

I hope you enjoyed a look at my hometown Pitman NJ, a great example of a dense old suburb. This video was made in part for the Rutgers Urban planning blog https://zoningthegardenstate.wordpres...
GLOUCESTER CITY, NJ--Early Sunday morning, January 31,  trash pickup for Broadway is Monday.  The city ordinance states that trash cannot be placed at the curb until after 5PM and it must be in a container covered with a lid.   The top photo  trash is pile outside of a North Broadway residence and in the right photo, a few yards away, there is a mound of trash stacked in front of a business. 
To be clear there are people who do care about the outside appearances of their business and their homes. To be precise most people in our community take pride in their property and get upset like we do when they see a property that is unkempt and litter blowing about. 
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Today, July 22,  out for a walk with Peyton the first thing we see sitting in the middle of a sidewalk is a container of bake bean and a package of crackers. Earlier in the week in the same area in the middle of the street we found a large bag of chicken bones and a container of soda. The photo on the right was taken several days ago empty boxes stacked on the sidewalk a block from Broadway. In the distance you can see trash that is blowing towards that main thoroughfare.
We have been covering this problem for over a decade. 

From  June 8, 2008, Cheers and Jeers column

As I walk pass the corner of East Thompson and Lane Avenues recently I noticed the two landlords who own rental properties on either side of the street have allowed the weeds and trash to overrun their properties once again. Last year I took a photo of one of the rentals and a month later the grass got cut. The bushes are so tall they block the view of oncoming traffic at the intersection. To reiterate my plea from last summer I urge our City Fathers to put stricter fines on landlords who don't maintain their properties. If they don't cut the grass/weeds/bushes/ and clean up the debris let the City workers do it and add the cost to the landlord's taxes. Properties such as these devalue the rest of the homes in the neighborhood. To report maintenance violations or unlicensed vehicles on properties call the Housing Office at 456-7689.   Or call the City Clerk's office 456-0205. Let's work together starting with our own properties to "Enhance the City's Image".
Definition of blight from the Urban Dictionary-The feeling, when walking through a part of town, that this neighborhood has seen better days. The decline of a part of the city from thriving neighborhood to encroaching ghettodom.  The first signs of blight are poorly kept properties, damaged building facades and an increasing number of "for sale" signs.

There are indications in certain sections of Gloucester City where blight has already taken over some neighborhoods. If you go back and look the deterioration began with just one property.

IMG_5622For over 5 years if not longer this out service fire hydrant has been sitting at Lane Avenue and Little Hunter Street. Those in charge of the city, specifically mayor and council are responsible for the removal of this ugly dilapidated hydrant nobody else. They are also responsible for maintaining the streets. Community  Pride begins at the top. CNBNEWS PHOTO CREDIT 


Some blame the local Housing Office for the blight, but in reality the laws of any community can't instill community pride in the residents that live there. That feeling has to come from within. In a 2013 interview with Joseph Stecklair, the City Housing Officer at that time, he said Gloucester City has an approximate 300 abandoned properties that have fallen in disrepair. In that interview Stecklair said his office sent out 200 letters in one month to violators of Chapter 25, the Brush, Weeds and Debris law.  (See article)

CNBNews 2010 report revealed 1,946 rental properties in Gloucester City. The US 2019 census states there are 3,947 households in the city. Add to the equation the number of foreclosures in Gloucester City as of today, 859 compared to Pitman's 60. (Source Foreclosure.com) . Why are there so many homeowners in this city delinquent in paying their mortgages? Does that have  anything to do with the lack of community pride?

Gerald F. Schnepf, Executive Director of Keep Iowa Beautiful wrote a paper on community pride. He believes that being poor has nothing to do with keeping your property clean and free of trash. 

"There was an expression that I heard as a youngster time and again from my mother -

"We may not have much money but that is no reason for not having your shoes polished and your clothes clean". What she was doing (without me knowing or understanding at the time) was building pride and confidence in her son. These key elements are important in making a person successful and a contributor to society. They are also the "glue" that makes your community stick together resulting in healthy and prosperous town.

"How does a community build that sense of pride?

"Presenting your best face to the public tells the visitor that you care about property and each other. It indicates that you have a sense of respect for others and it reflects in every resident's commitments to improving the community. " 

See CNBNews 2010 article CNBNEWS Point of View: Bring Community Pride Back to Gloucester City


We don't know the answer. What do you think needs to change? As mentioned we first wrote about the blight and lack of community pride in the city in 2007. Fourteen years later and the problem still exists. 


U.S. Census 2019 Quick Facts for Pitman

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U.S. Census 2019 Quick Facts for Gloucester City

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Tips and Snippets: A Look at the 1,946 Rental Properties in Gloucester City

EDITOR'S NOTE: Thanks to Chalie The Clip for sending us the Pitman video