Some prominent Haddonfield shop owners are complaining about the cleanliness of the downtown shopping district.
They are concerned the Kings Highway business district does not look well during the critical holiday shopping season—or any other time or the year.
"It's like having company over and leaving dirty dishes in the sink," said Sue Maslowski, owner of Jay West Bridal shop and a member of the borough's business-tax funded Partnership for Haddonfield (PfH) business improvement district. "Kings Court is a mess, the dinosaur area needs to be cleaned up. I don't think it's always the store owners' responsibility to clean up."
Maslowski said the problems are especially acute in the summer, when weeds push up along public sidewalks and in public parking lots around the PATCO train station and behind stores like hers.
But unlike many store owners, Maslowski is in a position to do something about it. She is a board member of the PfH and is lobbying to find money to clean up areas she and other merchants are concerned about.
"The borough used to have someone on staff to clean public areas. Sharon’s favorite words are, 'It's not in the budget,'" Maslowski said, referring to borough Administrator Sharon McCullough. "We need to redo the whole budget and look at ways to maintain the downtown."
Mayor Tish Colombi, the director of public works, said she doesn't think the situation is as bad as Maslowski says.
"I'm in the downtown area all the time and I don't think it looks particularly bad," she said. "I just don't think it looks dirty."
McCullough said the borough eliminated several public works jobs in budget cuts two years ago, but still deploys workers occasionally for downtown cleanup. Public areas in the borough are the last for leaf collection after neighborhood streets are cleaned, she said.
McCullough said the PfH collects more than $250,000 in tax money each year and could use some of it to hire workers to regularly maintain sidewalks and parking areas. She said trash cans are emptied on weekdays by a contractor. She also compared what Haddonfield does to some neighboring towns, such as Collingswood, which she said doesn't provide public trash cans or pickup in its downtown area.
Marlee Lick, owner of Harrison's Gift Shop, and also a PfH member, said the borough still needs to do more.
"Our mission statement is to help the businesses," Lick said. "The borough is supposed to take care of these things. I am a taxpayer as a business owner and a homeowner and I understand budgetary issues, but as they look into shared services, maybe they need to look into shared services for cleanup."
Lick said the PfH now pays about $14,000 each year for Christmas holiday street decorations, a cost the borough used to pay. Some of that money once paid for maintaining cleaner streets.