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Ask the Mayor/Sorry for the delay
Obit Brancato (Bellmawr)

A conversation with Mayor James

Ask the Mayor

By Bill Cleary

On Tuesday night (February 6) I had the opportunity to Bill_james_5 question Gloucester City Mayor William James (pictured) on a number of topics that have come up during his first month in office.

Question-What can you tell me about the City's purchase of the Dooley's property, Broadway and Cumberland Street on October 6, 2006?

Mayor James-The incumbent council members (Hagan, Kaye, Kormann, Loebell) were asked for the details at last night's work session of council. We (newcomer councilman Brophy, Marchese and myself) were told in so many words that there was no written agreements made with Reel Fish Seafood, of Bellmawr to develop the site.  Nor has there been any additional conversations with the Seafood business since. As such we decided to seek a developer to market the site.

Question-What can you tell me about the UEZ purchase of the Gloucester Plumbing Supply properties on South Broadway for $600,000?

Mayor James-The UEZ and the previous Mayor and City Council made the agreement with Gloucester Plumbing Supply.  When we took office the deal was already completed. At last week's council meeting the resolution that was passed only addressed the soft funds (professional fees) of the project. The state UEZ board had given its okay for the purchase to proceed.

Under the arrangement with Joe Kenney, the owner of Gloucester Plumbing, the city will be paid rent for the two properties he vacates when he moves into his new building at the foot of South Broadway. When the vacated properties are sold the City will receive those funds to use on another project without such stringent UEZ rules.

With the new Gloucester Plumbing building the entrance to the City will be enhanced. The lighting will be better; the landscaping will be improved. All and all it  is  a pretty good arrangement. If the transaction was just presented to us I might have had some reservations but it was already done.

Question-Was any decision made about the future of the Fort Nassau playground on Johnson Blvd. that was built seven years ago by volunteers from the community using $100,000 in donations.

Mayor James-The original idea to construct it was good but another site should have been chosen. It was built on a landfill. In recent years the pilings had started to sink. To make upgrades would cost between $7,000 and $11,000. In the not too distance future there will be some Brown Fields environmental work in that area. Then there is the problem with vandals. We had a guard patrol the playground between the hours of 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. and the juvenile delinquents were still finding ways to destroy it. 

The problems to keep it are just too many. We are discussing a plan to fix up the park at Baynes, Sparks and Brown Streets. We have new equipment to put there already. It would be easier to maintain. And easier to protect from vandals. We are still talking about it, a decision will be made soon.

Question-The  Senior Citizens  have been waiting for sometime for a permanent place to meet. A building they can call their own. I understand sometime ago the City received $400,000 for just that purpose. What has been done to satisfy their problem?

Mayor James-The City did received the $400,000. I and Councilman Marchese met with representatives of the organization today, Tuesday. We discussed that topic.

Did you know that the organization was 225 members strong? And were you aware that each week they had 100 members attend their meetings? I was surprised by those numbers.

Regarding the Senior Citizen complex we have already met with Gloucester Heights and I am now back from a meeting I had with Pine Grove.  Both Parties have been told our ideas regarding a place for the Seniors and are talking over particulars with their memberships.  We are to meet with the Seniors again in two weeks and hope to come to some reasonable course of positive action at that time. This should have been taken care of long ago.

Question-What about the request made by Nextel/Sprint to erect a communication tower somewhere in Gloucester City?

Mayor James-Our engineer is looking for a place to put up a tower. The tower would be pleasing to the eye. We are thinking a high Flag poll. With the technology available today there is no reason for the tower to be a eyesore. Nor should it be an annoyance to the neighborhood where it will be erected. The public will have a chance to discuss the plans at a meeting to be held in the future. No action will be taken until  the public  is informed.

Question-I understand  the fees charged by the Fire Department EMS to those who have insurance for transportation to the hospital haven't been received for over a year or more? 

Mayor James-Regarding the uncollected EMS funds, we collected $260,000 in 2005 and only $100,000 in 2006, this leaves at the very least a balance of uncollected funds of $160,000 for the year 2006. The contract with the company the city employed to collect those fees is up in March. We intend to seek the money that is owned. And we are looking for another company  to  hire.

Question-Is Gloucester  City's water safe to drink?

Mayor James-Yes.  There are some issues with one or two of the wells. The facts are the water plant is old and needs to be replaced. We are applying for a grant. The City was aware of this problem back in August 2006. In order to qualify for the grant our application must be filed by this March. Once again to reiterate the water is safe to drink.

Question-What is the City going to do about the Pirates Den? The man has no insurance. (For those who don't know the tavern was damaged by fire). Who will make the repairs?  Does the City plan to purchase it?

Were you aware the property was up for Sheriff Sale in the amount of $142,214? The sale is scheduled for Wednesday, February 14.

Mayor James-I am surprised to learn it is up for Sheriff Sale. As for your other questions we are waiting for some reports to come back. At which time we will make a decision based on the alternatives that are presented.

"I just want to add that if anyone has a problem dealing with this cold weather spell to get in touch with the City Police or Fire Department (s). Both are open 24/7". Also a video is airing on Local Channel 19 which explains how to receive assistance with your heating bills", the mayor said.

Etc.Mayor James informed me that he along with members of council met with representatives from the WaWa food market yesterday, Wednesday
to discuss the store's expansion plans. James said the subject will be on the Planning Board agenda at this month's meeting.

If you have questions to ask the mayor send your e-mail to B[email protected]. I will try my best to get you the answer.