Changing Skyline: Could Haddon Township Be Cool As Collingswood?

Editor’s note:  This is a very good article about how to revitalize an urban walkable community. Maybe some of the Pottstown leadership might take 5 minutes and read something constructive on how to bring about revitalization.  A simple phone call to either of these communities might provide invaluable information.  People like to share their successes!

For years, planners and residents have been trying to understand why Haddon Township isn’t more like Collingswood, the millennial enclave that is South Jersey’s answer to Fairmount and East Passyunk. Situated side by side in Camden County, the two towns are old-school commuter suburbs, with small house lots, good sidewalks, and great transit to Center City. They even share a main street, Haddon Avenue, which runs through the center of both.

The pair are models for what smart-growth advocates call walkable urbanism, but Collingswood’s downtown is by far the buzzier place. You can stroll for blocks along its part of Haddon Avenue, poking into vintage stores, stopping for coffee, enjoying an al fresco meal at a BYOB. In the evenings, it’s common to see pedestrians toting a wine caddy or pushing a stroller.

In Haddon’s downtown, known as Westmont, you might not see any pedestrians for blocks.

Westmont is a frustrating example of potential unrealized. Like Collingswood, it boasts a burgeoning restaurant scene and a weekly farmers’ market. It has some great blocks filled with early 20th-century storefronts that would look at home on Passyunk Avenue. But those destinations are just lonely islands in a stream of dreary strip malls and parking lots.


Refurbished Rail Cars Finally Roll On PATCO

PATCO finally rolled out the first of its refurbished rail cars Thursday morning, with local officials promising the $194 million overhaul will mean new levels of comfort, safety and reliability for commuters who travel between South Jersey and Center City.

The rebuilt cars, with new interiors, electronics and heating systems, are more than a year late returning to service from a factory in Hornell, N.Y., because of persistent problems fine-tuning an automatic signal system that gives operating instructions to the trains.

All systems, including new visual and audio station announcements, appeared to work flawlessly Thursday on the first train’s inaugural trip from Woodcrest station in Cherry Hill to the subway stop at 8th and Market streets in Center City.


Susquehanna-Roseland Power Line, A $1.4 Billion Project, Switched On

The long-anticipated Susquehanna-Roseland power line was fully energized this week for the first time.

The 150-mile-long, 500-kilovolt line links PPL Electric Utilities’s switchyard at its Susquehanna nuclear power plant in Salem Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, to Public Service Enterprise Group Inc.’s switching station in Roseland, Essex County, New Jersey.

It cost $1.4 billion and is designed to bolster electricity reliability for the power grid run by Pennsylvania-based PJM Interconnection that serves 61 million people in all or parts of 13 states plus the District of Columbia.

“It’s all about reliability,” PPL Electric Utilities spokesman Paul Wirth said. “It prevents overloads on other power lines and gives electricity another path to travel, especially during period periods when it’s extremely hot or extremely cold.

Read more:

Teacher Suspended After Having 3rd-Grade Class Write ‘Get-Well’ Letters To Convicted Cop Killer Mumia Abu-Jamal

A New Jersey teacher has been suspended for reportedly having her third-grade students write “get-well” letters to convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.

On Sunday, Marylin Zuniga posted a tweet about dropping off the letters to Johanna Fernandez.

“My 3rd graders wrote to Mumia to lift up his spirits as he is ill. #freemumia,” the teacher at Forest Street School in Orange, New Jersey, tweeted on her since-deactivated account.

Fernandez is an assistant professor in the Department of Black and Latino Studies at Baruch College in New York City. She also is part of Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal, an organization that advocates for the inmate’s innocence.

Read more:

Food Truck And Wine Festival Cruising Back Go Pohatcong Township

Editor’s note:  This is near Phillipsburg, NJ, right across the river from Easton, PA. Can’t go wrong with food trucks and wine ;).

Searching for food trucks?

You won’t have to go far. Alba Vineyard is hosting a Food Truck and Wine Festival later this month.

The Pohatcong Township vineyard hosted a food truck festival in November 2014, and will bring it back noon to 5 p.m. April 25-26.

Admission costs $10 for adults 21 and over, $5 for ages 13-20 and is free for children under 12. Parking is free; food prices will vary by the truck, according to a news release.

Read more:

Newark, N.J. To Get World’s Largest Indoor Vertical Farm

AeroFarms, an aeroponics company that was started in 2004, is bringing what is soon to be the world’s largest vertical farm to a former steel factory in Newark, New Jersey’s Ironbound community.

The vertical farm will manufacture short, leafy green vegetables grown in vertically stacked trays that will fill 69,000 square feet of the former Newark factory.


Aldi To Reopen 30 Of 66 Shut Bottom Dollar Stores

Discount grocer Aldi said Friday that it will reopen 30 of the 66 former Bottom Dollar stores it took over in Pennsylvania, South Jersey, and northeast Ohio after the previous owner, the Delhaize Group, shut Bottom Dollar last year.

Five ex-Bottom Dollar stores in Philadelphia and 14 in the suburbs will reopen. Four Philadelphia stores will stay shut, along with 13 in the suburbs.

Aldi, an Illinois-based U.S. arm of Germany’s Albrecht family grocery conglomerate, said in 2013 it planned a $3 billion expansion, and Friday’s announcement is part of that effort.


Additional article about Lehigh Valley locations:

Camden County Police Chief Scott Thomson Gets Raise

The Camden County freeholders on Thursday approved a $66,800 raise for Metro Police Chief Scott Thomson, bringing his annual salary to $230,000.

Thomson’s new contract guarantees that he will stay in Camden until at least 2019, county spokesman Dan Keashen said Friday.

“This is about retaining one of the sharpest law enforcement minds in the country,” Keashen said.

No county funds are used for the operation of the Camden County Police Department, which is paid for by Camden City and the state.


Outcry Against Evesham Mayor Who Forbade Questions At Meetings

The heated exchange between a proud mayor with a football career and an elderly resident who wanted to question town policies sorely needed a referee that bitter December night.

For four tense minutes, Evesham Township Mayor Randy Brown drowned out Kenneth Mills, 81, after Mills asked about a tax abatement on a property and attempted to tell Brown to calm down. In a booming voice, Brown, the kicking coach for the Baltimore Ravens, told Mills that he had been overwhelmingly reelected in November and that “65 percent of the people who came out love what I do.” He barely addressed the tax abatement.

“You’re acting like a jerk,” Mills said as he sat down, sounding exasperated.

The following month, Brown made it clear that future council meetings would be different. Residents would not be permitted to question council members during public meetings, he said. Instead, they could “make comments only.”


Another Delay For New PATCO Cars

PATCO’s long-delayed rebuilt commuter cars won’t be rolled out this month as planned, as continuing glitches in signal systems have forced another delay, PATCO officials said Tuesday.

Last month, PATCO executives had said the first eight of 120 refurbished cars would be put into customer service in February.

But PATCO president John Hanson said Tuesday, “They’re not going to be ready by the end of this month.”

PATCO is withholding millions of dollars in payments to Alstom Transport Inc. while the manufacturer tries to fix the problem, Hanson said.


Plans To Transform Underperforming Burlington Mall

Over the next two to three months, officials in Burlington Township will be getting architectural and civil engineering drawings of what the new Marketplace at Burlington – formerly Burlington Center Mall – will look like, as well as a count of the traffic it is hoped it will generate.

By mid-spring of next year, owner Moonbeam Capital Investments L.L.C. of Las Vegas says, groundbreaking will begin to convert the underperforming mall into a must-see destination off Exit 47A of I-295 for shopping, dining, and entertainment.

If all goes as planned, the $230 million-plus phased conversion will also include manicured green spaces with benches and fountains that seamlessly tie a traditional mall with an open-air town center.

The full build-out is expected to take from two to three years and will be done in stages. The mall will stay open the entire time.


Judge Approves Revel Sale To Reluctant Buyer At $95.4M

A bankruptcy judge in Camden said Monday that she would approve the sale of Revel AC Inc. for $95.4 million to Florida investor Glenn Straub, rejecting Straub’s effort to pay only $87 million.

The next step is a sale order, which must be signed by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Gloria M. Burns, but negotiations over the terms of that order – particularly how concerns of tenants and others will be handled – bogged down during a break.

Burns asked attorneys for Revel, Straub, and other parties to work on a sales order to be filed this week, in time to be considered at a Revel hearing scheduled for Thursday.

Once a sale order is signed, the sale of the property, built at a cost of $2.4 billion, is expected to close within 30 days, according to the asset purchase agreement.


Forecasters Warn Of Snow, Sleet In Philadelphia Area

The Philadelphia region could see periods of snow and sleet today, forecasters are warning.

The National Weather Service says a mix of rain, snow and sleet is likely for the area through early afternoon. The precipitation should then transition to rain and sleet and eventually just rain by late afternoon, the weather service said.

Any snow is most likely between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and less than an inch is expected. Any accumulation should be limited to grassy areas and non-paved surfaced. Sleet is most likely to hit the region from early to mid-afternoon.


Lawmakers Seek Support For $29 Million Emergency Aid For Atlantic City

New Jersey members of Congress appealed Tuesday to U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez to support a $29 million National Emergency Grant request to help workers left unemployed by recent casino closings in Atlantic City.

In a letter sent by Republican U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo and Democratic U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, Perez was urged to support the “Atlantic City Re-Employment Initiative” proposal to fund employer-driven training programs.

The state Department of Labor and Workforce Development filed the application for the National Emergency Grant late last month to address the needs of 8,000 workers left without jobs after recent closings of Revel, Showboat and Trump Plaza casinos and the earlier closing of the Atlantic Club.


Death Of Wife Of Cooper CEO Ruled A Homicide

Map of New Jersey highlighting Somerset County

Map of New Jersey highlighting Somerset County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The death of the wife of Cooper Health System CEO John P. Sheridan Jr. has been ruled a homicide, while investigators have not determined how her husband died, records show.

A copy of the death certificate for Joyce Sheridan, obtained by The Inquirer on Tuesday, lists the manner of death as “homicide.” Her husband’s death certificate says “pending investigation.”

The Sheridans both had multiple stab wounds when their bodies were pulled from a Sept. 28 fire in their home in the Skillman section of Montgomery Township , sources said last week.

Joyce Sheridan, 69, a retired teacher, was repeatedly stabbed in the upper body and chest, according to one of the sources, who like all the others spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.


Update: Philadelphia Area Restaurant Openings

To update the crop of projected restaurant openings over the next eight weeks or so:

Mere hours old is The Crazy Sofa, a sushi/small plater, next to the Regal theater in Newtown Square (the former Roux 3).

Any day now, Collingswood will see the debut of Local Market and Cafe (714 Haddon Ave.), which will sell foods to go or eat-in and will have a coffee bar, deli, butcher, bakery and grocery sections.

Friday, Nov. 21 is day one for Latin Flavor, a Caribbean cafeteria at 627 South St.


No Man’s Land, Atlantic City

full-state map

full-state map (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tucked into northeast Atlantic City, where ocean meets inlet, is a two-by-six block expanse of undeveloped land that in other shore towns would be carved up by wealthy outsiders to build $2 million homes.

Instead, the few surviving, decades-old houses dot hundreds of empty lots like jagged teeth at the mouth of a yawning ocean in this sleepy part of town. Some call it North Beach; others South Inlet. Bill Terrigino, 69, lives at one end, his home one of those visible teeth.

An empty Revel casino shimmers in the background, emblematic of the mirage Atlantic City has become. Terrigino, a laid-off casino banquet server who resembles a Jersey Shore version of Hemingway, has a two-story home on South Metropolitan Avenue.

His house boasts an unobstructed waterfront view – but not by design. It’s just that nothing stands between it and the Atlantic Ocean.

Read more:

John And Joyce Sheridan’s Son Charged With Cocaine Possession Day Of Deaths

English: New Jersey county map

English: New Jersey county map (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SKILLMAN, N.J. – Hours after Cooper Health System CEO John Sheridan and his wife, Joyce, were pulled from their fire-ravaged bedroom and pronounced dead Sept. 28, one of the couple’s sons was arrested for cocaine possession, police records show.

After authorities found cocaine in his car, Matthew Sheridan, 40, was arrested for third-degree cocaine possession. Police also arrested him for possession of drug paraphernalia for a digital scale and baggies. He lived at home with his parents.

The arrest was not made public at the time by the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office, which is handling the investigation into the Sheridans’ deaths. The Inquirer on Wednesday obtained the booking report, which documented the arrest, through an open public records request made to Montgomery Township.

Members of the Sheridan family declined to comment Wednesday on the arrest.


Killings, Shootings, Crashes Mark Violent Weekend In Philadelphia Area

The weekend in the Philadelphia region was marked by a series of violent incidents, including shootings and car crashes that have left at least eight people dead since Friday night.

The deaths include two fatal shootings in Camden and three in Philadelphia, as well as two deadly traffic accidents in South Jersey and one in Bensalem.

Other violent incidents also added to the weekend mayhem, including the shooting of a Temple University student, two double shootings and a robber who threatened to give his victim AIDS.

In Camden, authorities are investigating two deadly shootings that occurred hours apart Sunday morning.


United Will Drop Service To And From Atlantic City On Dec. 3

An early photo of the Atlantic City Airport Te...

An early photo of the Atlantic City Airport Terminal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In another blow to Atlantic City, United Airlines will end flights in and out of Atlantic City International Airport on Dec. 3, saying the service to Chicago and Houston did not meet expectations.

United, based in Chicago, arrived to great fanfare eight months ago – celebratory balloons, beach umbrellas, and praise from officials including Gov. Christie – when it launched daily nonstop service April 1 to Chicago’s O’Hare and Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airports.

United was the first major carrier to begin new passenger service in several years at the airport in Egg Harbor Township.