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Haddonfield Merchants Complain About Unkept Downtown

"It's like having company over and leaving dirty dishes in the sink," a shop owner said.

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.

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Herb Hess December 17, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Unfortunately the Mayor and Commissioners have been tone deaf to this issue for the last decade. Working together the PfH and the Boro could figure this out.
Joe Taxpayer December 17, 2012 at 01:39 PM
every year more and more of our taxes goes to pay for expenses that do nothing for the upkeep and maintenance nor investment in our town but at the same time result in less services and personnel. If we have less employees how come costs are the same or more and taxes keep going up? here's a line item to look into. Legal fees. We pay 250k while other towns nearby pay far less. what are we paying 20k a month in legal fees for? a 20% cut in this expense would give us 50k to pay an outside firm to keep the streets clean. Keep the boro clean! make it a priority.
Jim December 17, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Stop paying for professionals we do not need. the tax payers pay more for down properties because of so higher tax assessment so they should receive better services to support the down town street scape I have complained for years Tish Columbi has never run a business in her life so talking with her is like talking to a wall no response. Weeds, leaves not pick up and trash left over flowing in the very few trash cans we have in the down town area. Sharon Mc Clough does not have the experience or education to run a down town. The extra BID taxes should not be used to pay for trash and leave pick up service we pay for in our tax dollars already. The down down town pays for over 18%of the total taxes in Haddonfield but is only 5%of the total property base Tish and the other commissioners should do their job they certainly are loaded up on debt and paying thousand of dollar for consultants to review new library locations [ which we do need] and the purchase of Bancroft the money to pay for turf field will not add and value to the down town which adds much more to the town than a sports field.
Rev Dr Gregory O McMillan December 17, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Expenses tend to be going up everywhere due to pensions, medical benefits and a multitude of other costs tax payers must endure. Less services for greater costs have been the norm for more than 10 years now When do we say enough before we drive everyone out or they give up on the American dream. Harder to live, work and play in....not just Haddonfield alone; but, New Jersey in it's entirety!
Etheljean Deal December 17, 2012 at 02:41 PM
I am downtown every day, and I have noticed that this year the business district has looked particularly bad. It's embarrassing when I bring guests into town and we have to walk around leaf piles and my dogs pick up trash from the sidewalks as "prizes."
ES December 17, 2012 at 03:10 PM
The downtown is really unkempt. Many shop owners (us included) clean our own sidewalks in front of our shops. After the fall festival the remnants of hay and debris were left in the courtyard for weeks and weeks. Kings court is a wasteland, with trash overflowing all weekend when it's busy in town. With the taxes being paid, Haddonfield streets should be spotless. Westmont and Collingswood have far cleaner downtowns.
CAK December 17, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Why doesn't someone create a community service project for this? It would be n e to see everyone give time to the town and each other. I am formally from Haddonfield and love the town and community with all my heart. I still consider it my home. I would help out any day of the week with other residents. Taxes are high every where. . It's a fortune to live in Cherry Hill but our services and community are worth much more than what we pay in taxes. You can not put a price tag on pride. I brought my friend to Christmas shop in town town to keep our money local. I was surprised at the condition if some if the stores and the ones moving out or closed for Saturday shopping. Please don't let this slip away. I've seen too many small town shopping areas turn to dust. It is one of our precious treasures.
Brian Kelly December 17, 2012 at 04:24 PM
This is one of those problems that can be easily solved by the volunteer spirit. If funds are short up at Borough Hall, Haddonfield United would be pleased to help out our merchants. Our downtown shopping area is source of pride for every resident. The folks in Borough Hall can just go on our facebook page or website and give us a shout. We're ready to help!
George December 17, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Sorry , but I'm downtown alot and I do not see it as dirty and unkempt. It is the most beautiful downtown around However, I do have to agree that the priorities and choices as to where our money is going seem to be confused. A good example is the safety of our schools. The tragic events of last week seem to indicate that we need to make our schools safer. Now,sadly , even a safe town like Haddonfield could be at risk. Where will the money needed for security come from ? I may be wrong , but the few security measures installed at the Middle school and Central school last year seem to have been paid for by the PTA's of both schools. Shouldn't these funds have come from the BOE ? The volunteer spirit is all well and good , but it seems that people are reaching a limit, whether it be from increased taxes, fees , or the expectation that what the Borough can't pay for the residents of Haddonfield should.
Susan Hoch MD December 17, 2012 at 10:27 PM
It looks like they are behind in sweeping up leaves. Those leaves could be swept up in a mulching lawnmoyer and used as compost, either at the Crow's Wood Community Garden or perhaps if any of the schools have a garden that would benefit from mulched chopped leaves. It's an environmental project, maybe for a club or for community volunteers or gardeners. I don't expect our elected officials to be too concerned about this; they have other priorities than cleaning up the town and maintenance of buildings, taking care of diseased trees. Now, if it was artificial turf that needed to be cleaned up, why Tish and Ed would be increasing your taxes to cover the 1 million dollar maintenance every 8 years for each turf field.
Lisa December 18, 2012 at 01:10 AM
Haddonfield shop owners, WAKE UP! A photo of fall leaves hardly makes the downtown look dirty. Try opening your shops later - yes, I understand Wednesdays and Fridays are open "late" during the holidays but the recent ad in What's On said Wed, Thurs and Fri and then indicated in bright red ink that no retail venues were open on Thurs, just restaurants. And 8 pm Wed is not all that helpful. I still remember trying to buy my mom a Mother's Day gift during the week one year and the shops closed at 5 pm, I went over to make a purchase to a shop at about 5:10 pm and they were closed, and I'm a town resident who is investing in supporting the downtown stores. I understand the shops are not like the mall but the average working customer can't make it to downtown before the sidewalks roll up. If the restaurants are open, the shops should be too, at least until 9 pm. What's wrong with Wed through Sat til 9 or 9:30? In this economy, shop owners need to be more flexible/willing to meet shoppers' needs. Malls etc are open much later than that and that's a big advantage for busy people.
Maryann Campling December 18, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Volunteer clean up crews?......I'd be happy to help. Things have changed in our down town area....in ways over which we have no control, I'm sad to say....but....there is absolutely no reason for it to look unkempt. If Haddonfield United gets involved, count me in.
concerned business owner December 19, 2012 at 03:13 AM
First of all Lisa perhaps you should know that the majority of the customers that do support the businesses downtown are NOT from Haddonfield...its a known fact that Haddonfield residents don't shop local especially the Powers of Be so unless you would like to pay the inflated rents, electric, taxes parking fees, sign fees,staff etc etc I suggest you remember that unless the business comes in why would we stay open. You must also have your eyes closed when you walk thru town cause this town is in need of a real good cleaning....Haddy hasn't had the weeds around it pulled for a long time not to mention the mess at the end of the Lane and NOW some of the businesses have to put their own trash cans there as the trash bins were removed so that should look great I had thought we would have cleaned up before the gov came for his town meetings but that never happened ...sorry Lisa you need to Open your eyes Wider the town seems to worry about artifical turf and things that don't matter then the things that do....
Steve Lick December 19, 2012 at 02:14 PM
I suggest 2 possible sources for "manpower" to help keep the business area clean and tidy: 1.) High School Honor Society requires volunteer activity 2.) Community service requirement for the juveniles caught by the Police vandalizing properties in town.
Maryann Campling December 19, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Steve......great, common sense ideas, especially #2,....which, unfortunately will never be implemented!
Anthony Mozzo December 19, 2012 at 03:46 PM
I agree, being a Salon owner in Had do field for over 37 years I have never seen the lack of some of our restaurant owner outside care of their tabled are dirty, dirty dishes with food left in them and on the pavement. Serving patron with their pets (dogs) when dinning outside is a health issue's and I complaint about that many time to our honorable mayor and did nothing about the problem. Anthony Mozzo , Anthony's Hair Fashions
Bill Green December 19, 2012 at 04:01 PM
As a local business we are constantly cleaning the sidewalks and area around our shop. Unfortunately when crews come by, to clean Kings Court, they rarely clean in front of the store and frequently leave what they've cleaned (from the rest of the court) in front of my place. The court should be a showplace for downtown Haddonfield not a forgotten area. As for the comment about store hours...we've stayed open each Friday night and made sure to have coffee/tea and refreshments for customers...to no avail. The town empties around 6:30 and we rarely see customers (not even people who walk through after they've parked their cars). The town needs glitz...and shoppers need to be enticed to mill about and to stroll sidestreets and alley shops. . We've got a picturesque town with great shops, and shopkeepers, that are ordinanced and homogenized to death.

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