The column that asks, what will be accomplished at the next Bridgeton Main Street meeting that will get people fired up, but not stirred up like we are accused of doing in this tired old town, but we can’t even find the wick anymore.
By Jack Hummel
Radio: 92.1 FM WVLT Saturdays noon to 2 p.m.
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“Shoutout this morning is to Top Dog Pizza. The guests really enjoyed the delicious pizza you prepared for them.
“Thanks also for the Pay It Forward program that you have in your restaurant. To those that don’t know what that is, you can go in a give any amount of money (and get a receipt for it) toward a meal for someone less fortunate.
“A person short of money or in need goes in and they just say ‘Code Blue’ or ‘pay it forward’ and they will receive a free meal. It’s already up and in effect. On days like this, it’s especially needed.
“If you haven’t already, check out Top Dog in Wheaton Plaza in Millville (between Burger King and Ashley Furniture). Please support the businesses that support the citizens of Millville.
“While there, make sure you say thank you from Code Blue!!)
“I also want to thank River Walk Wawa. Last night, they gave me a huge quantity of breakfast items, etc., that are frozen. Our guests are now enjoying these wonderful items for breakfast every day.”
— Cindi Stanger-Cooke,
Millville Code Blue
Councilman Mike Zapolski swears he has not seen the Bridgeton City Park “plan” covered in 401 pages of a book put together by planner Cindy Williams.
And, yet, Zapolski and other council people were asked at the last council work session to approve a “plan” to move the park plan forward.
“I haven’t seen a plan,” Zapolski said on 92.1 FM today.
He missed that meeting, going out of town.
A little history.
April 1, 2015
City officials on Tuesday night approved moving forward with phase II of the city park plan, which includes making things like an ice skating rink and zoo weddings a reality.
In a special City Council meeting, planner Cindy Williams gave a presentation update on her months-long work at branding and marketing 350 acres of the 1,100-square-acre park.
Her work — on contract with the city for $52,000 — ultimately calls for making the illustrious park a premier destination spot, with the promise of bringing in revenue and tourists.
“We’re looking at the future because we think the park is a major asset in our community,” Mayor Albert Kelly said before introducing Williams. “The first three people at the Splash Park were from Voorhees — that tells me that our Splash Park is being recognized as a regional event and that we can build on that.”
He added, “We’re the finest park in New Jersey. I truly believe it. Nobody has what we have in its entirety.”
With that, Williams addressed the public, giving a full-length report of her work thus far, which has mostly been designing a website and other branding concepts the city can use in marketing the park.
“Brand is the essence of the project,” she said.
A brand, Williams continued, is designed to aim toward long-term objectives while directly marketing short-term projects.
“Our goal is to deliver a destination park,” she said.
A mock website with a logo and new title for the park was revealed, showing smiling faces above the words, “BPAZ. Bridgeton City Park & Zoo. So much to do!”
With flashy pictures depicting recreational, educational, historical, environmental and artistic activities, visitors would be compelled to visit the park for all its promised offerings.
Williams gave a list of 15 projects with recommendations for various projects the city can seek to make the park a destination spot, including:
•Arts in the park.
•Movies on an inflatable screen.
•Concerts, music festivals.
•Interpretive center. “There is the potential for an interpretive center like Bivalve is and even more so,” Willaims said.
•Weddings. “Weddings in zoos are very popular now.”
•Synthetic ice skating rink.
•Trail enhancements. “We have plans to enhance walking trails as fitness trails.”
•Gourmet food trucks.
•Water bottle campaign, and more. “Your brand is a measuring stick. Everything we think and say needs to be under the brand microscope.”
Altogether, about $150,000 in annual revenue potential could be realized by pursuing the above projects.
“Our goal was to deliver a true urban park experience,” Williams said.
One recommendation she made was that whatever money the city raised with new park ventures be added back into park funds.
Some of the projects she recommended have already been pursued, such as the mini-golf course expected to open this summer.
“The things we already have are coupled with new things,” Williams said. “We’re collaborating them all together into a brand.”
While city council had already heard the presentation ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, it was the first time the public got a taste of where the city hopes to go.
But with no resolution on the agenda, Kelly pressed council to give an endorsement of the list of to-do projects so the city could move forward and go out for bids.
“Time is of the essence,” Kelly said. “The longer we wait, the more expensive the projects become. We want to get these things moving so we can deliver.”
Council — all three members present — unanimously approved the plan in an up-or-down vote.
Two members were absent Tuesday night.
Mike Zapolski Sr. had a prior commitment that took him out of town, and Bill Spence declared weeks ago he wouldn’t attend as a show of solidarity with Zapolski, who had tried unsuccessfully to get council president Jack Surrency to reschedule the meeting.
But with Tuesday’s endorsement, the city is now ready to send out bids for contracts.
An exact cost figure for all the projects couldn’t be determined, according to city business administrator Dale Goodreau.
“We’re all keeping it within budgetary limits,” he told council.
— Daniel Kov
So 14 projects are approved?
So, did they send out bids for contracts?
Why isn’t the, say, amphitheater completed?
A little more history
May 11, 2016
There’s a new arch across Mayor Aitken Drive that welcomes people to a pair of local attractions that city officials want to turn into even bigger draws for residents and tourists.
The arch greets visitors to the sprawling, 1,000-acre City Park and its Cohanzick Zoo, which opened as New Jersey’s first zoo in 1934.
While the park and zoo are popular stops, local officials are developing a plan to brand the park and market it as “something that could draw people into the city of Bridgeton,” said city Business Administrator Dale Goodreau.
“Part of that is identifying that (you are) now in the park,” Goodreau said. “That arch is where it’s located so that people feel like they’re definitely in the park.”
The arch was built with some private sector help. Century Savings Bank donated $50,000 toward the overall $62,000 cost.
With the arch in place, the city will move to further bolster the park and zoo, and also make them a link between Sunset Lake and the downtown business district. Part of that work is already done.
A new walkway runs through City Park between Sunset Lake and the business district. The walkway was installed as part of a project to repair the raceway, a sort of drainage canal, that runs between the lake and the Cohansey River and which was severely damaged several years ago when torrential rains caused the lake’s dam to fail. The project was paid for with federal funds and insurance money.
New signage is being installed to help people determine their location in the park, and to point out historic locations or just inform readers of the kind of flowers that are growing in gardens, Goodreau said. The city is also seeking bids from vendors for food trucks that would work out of the zoo’s parking lot, he said.
The Cohanzick Zoo has some updated walkways. Workers were busy on Wednesday cleaning up the zoo, painting donation boxes and rebuilding the wallaby exhibit.
Another possibility is to work with local businesses to provide weddings in the park or zoo, Goodreau said.
“It provides a beautiful setting,” he said. “How many people get married in a zoo?”
City officials are currently reviewing a number of studies done on the park over the years, Goodreau said. Those reports should provide guidance on how best to proceed with the project, he said.
“We want to make sure we know how we’re proceeding, and proceed in the right direction and get as much grant money as possible,” he said.
Millville residents Peter and Martha Spizzica were strolling through the zoo on Wednesday.
When asked if she thought the city plan was good idea, Martha Spizzica replied, “Absolutely.”
“Especially for the children,” she said.
Martha Spizzica said visitors would also visit some of the downtown shops.
“We’re always looking for places to walk through,” said Peter Spizzica.
The city took steps over the past few years to increase visitors, and especially families, to the park and zoo.
A $700,000 children’s splash park opened in 2013. A miniature golf course was added a few years later.
Both the splash park and the miniature golf course are across the parking lot from the Cohanzick Zoo.
— Thomas Barlas
“I have many of Jack Horner’s stories he wrote.
“After sending them in to BEN, he gave them to me.”