The column that asks, do you know what the late Warren Robinson’s signature word was when he latched on to something like a bulldog with a new set of teeth, whether it be at city council driving business administrator Dale Goodreau nuts or at a freeholder meeting taking Doug Fisher to task after making a request at an earlier meeting: “Well …?”
By Jack Hummel
Radio: 92.1 FM WVLT Saturdays noon to 2 p.m.
U.S. Army: RA13815980
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You really have to take a slow drive through Bridgeton City Park on a nice summer evening to appreciate the serenity you can feel, the work that is being accomplished to make it even better and what is already being offered.
On a peaceful summer night, the Sunday Night Concert Series has drawn a full riverfront crowd as you pass through the West Commerce Street entrance to the park, greeted by a sign not only highlighting the blue-ribbon Cohanzick Zoo, but also the children’s summer programs being offered there.
It’s not the LED-lighted, maybe-too-expensive first look at the park planner Cindy Williams envisioned, but at least it’s advertising, something Bridgeton has lacked forever.
At the entrance to the zoo across from the splash park, there is a food trailer from Sunrise Catering United that could use a professional menu sign, but you can still read “fish, chicken, hotdogs, buffalo wings, ice cold drinks” on a small cardboard sign.
It’s a start, although Melissa Helmbrecht of United Advocacy Group has promised a permanent stand to none other than Carl Hemple Sr., Mr. Bridgeton Little League and former president of the recreation commissioner that the city spay/neutered over the years in a power move.
In Bridgeton, as probably most stressed towns, you learn power is everything. If you don’t have the power, you have nothing to allow you to put your stamp on history.
Believe it or not, the windows of the old water works building in the park are painted to look better than most of the rentals on North Pearl Street. The color scheme makes it look occupied — a message the downtown should pass on to the out-of-town owners of empty storefronts.
But we digress.
The old canoe house looks creaky, but the plywood covered windows would be a perfect spot for more advertising, like, “Welcome to the Bridgeton Raceway, dug by hand over 100 years ago to bring power to the Cumberland Nail & Iron Works on this spot.”
Instead, it cries out to visitors, this site not safe enough for breakable windows.
The most creative sign in the entire park says “Department Rec/Zoo/Public Affairs” written on a sign that looks like it’s being held up overhead by animals.
If the head of those three departments, Melissa Hemple, designed that, she did it with the shackles she has been wearing since power became of the operative word in Bridgeton, a word that her predecessor, Bob Rose, remembers very well.
Everybody is under somebody except city council, who is over no one and it festers at every meeting the first and third of every month. It is why the park plan will be held hostage until at least the next election, and why city council finds out about things after they are done.
But we digress.
There are now canoe and kayak rentals at Sunset Lake, with another BPAZ-generated, flapping in the wind, soft sign announcing the rental hours are 1 to 6 p.m. during the week and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.
Kids are swimming off the beach despite signs in two languages that there can be no swimming without lifeguards.
There will eventually be a drowning despite adult relatives sitting close by keeping watch. It is how badly kids beg to swim. The lake is polluted because it is too shallow to prevent the sun from creating bacteria.
It is estimated to cost $2 million to deepen it, but we wonder how many jobs that would create in the area as opposed to how many jobs training over the years has created. And after draining the lake, there is no set way the deepening has to be done from say September to November.
Who says it has to require behemoth machinery with 6-foot tires and huge earth moving graders? Yes, it will require dump trucks. But what is all that soil under the water all these years worth to an agricultural community? Could some of the cost be recovered?
Has an expert ever been contacted to see how cheaply it can be done, and can the Department of Environmental Protection be convinced that spending $3 million to bring back a raceway does very little by leaving a huge lake at the end of it to rot.
Remember the planning group from Glassboro that came to city council a few years ago and sang the praises of what the park can be?
One of the three was a planner who has developed parks from little pocket parks all the way to 10,000 acres. He came along at no cost because he became curious when he heard the other planners talk about it.
He limited his scope to the Donald Rainear Amphitheater, and by the time his 15-minute speech was done, it’s a wonder the sparse gathering didn’t pick up signs and run through the streets yelling, “We’ve found the plan for a new Bridgeton!”
It was that inspiring. Bring him back. Hire him to develop that little part of God’s Little 1,100 Acres, including the lake, and make sure the DEP is there to listen to his final proposal.
We remember Blake Maloney, of Cohansey Area Watershed Assoc., saying to us, “I thought we had the DEP convinced to remove the silt from Sunset Lake.”
Wow! That close?
Our conscience, Mike Abbott, checks in behaving like a man who see control of progress in the city is slowly slipping away from him before he could conceivably take over our radio show in December.
“Please list all that she has done. All that Jack can do is holler about 40 million dollars. Scholarships are great, but do these folks come back to our city to work and live?
“Building neighborhoods are great, but where will the folks who live there work?
“Bring something to our city that will employ local people by the hundreds and then she will have accomplished something.
“Jack should know by now that actions speak louder than words.Doing something to help people is good and gives one a warm and fuzzy feeling, but does it help folks get a job so they can help themselves, or is it just more of helping folks to be helpless?
“Think about it. Help people get jobs so they can help themselves and everyone will benefit.”
— Mike Abbott
Education, or the lack thereof, is not an absolute reason why industry is not flocking here, Mike?
The days of putting on your blue collar and work pants may be gone forever, unless you’re heading for a truck farm. One hundred full scholarships to start with for those who are smart enough, but don’t have the means to go to college — you scoff at that in a stressed city?
You call that “warm and fuzzy”? “Helping folks to be helpless”?
What are you doing, Mike, besides mocking? Have you checked the education level in Cumberland County? Have you done your due diligence? What industry are you talking about where people can make corrections-officer wages and bosses can send their daughters to St. Augustine Prep-like school.
What is our college graduation rate now, Mike? What is our Cumberland County College graduation rate? Do you check anything besides illegal food trucks and cars parked on lawns?
Then again, maybe you’re completely right. We’ll all have a sit-down with CCC’s Prez Fernandez. You can explain it to her.
One year ago today.
July 9, 2016
The column that says when a guest doesn’t show up for the noon Saturday radio show on 92.1 FM, there’s always Bridgeton Councilman Mike Zapolski Sr. to call in and explain everything that’s wrong with his city’s government, something we’ve been trying to get him to do for months … but, seriously, nobody cares except the library, Bridgeton Main Street, Martin Corp. and Mike Abbott, when rested, so where’s the outcry?
“Just walked in to Manny’s Pizza on High Street and they just got done filming teen mom for MTV.”
— Taking Back Millville
Send them over to DiLisi’s!
Author Eileen Bennett really, really serious about getting healthy this time. Wish her well! Hopefully, she’ll write a book about it.
Meeting with Melissa Helmbrecht, of United Advocacy Group, Monday afternoon on the third floor of the Ashley McCormick building to see how the trip to Orlando went for the high school kids she has taking part in the five-week First Star program at Rowan, where all be going to Rowan after this college experience.
See you at the World Series!
“Waiting for my flight to NBA Summer League action with Larry.”
— Bob Hutchings
This is one of the “travel kittens Carolscatz rescued from the CCSPCA. As you can see, he had his leg amputated as it was crushed and had a massive infection . He does not let this bother him, I have been told by his foster mom/vet .
He just received his separate combo test for feline aids and feline leukemia and his second fvrvp vaccination. Now known as Lucas.
Applications to adopt can be found onAdoptapet.com/ carolscatz . Can you give a special kitty a special forever home? Adoption donation is $90.
YOU CAN BOOK IT: If you’re not part of the solution, move aside.