April 27, 2021- Mayor Maley provides an update from the corner of Homestead and Haddon Ave where constuction continues on the next phase of pedestrian improvements, fully funded through a Safe Routes to School grant awarded to the Borough. Also, news on the return of the Collingswood Farmers' Market May 1 and Second Saturday on May 8.
Watch the full video update here.
Statement of Mayor Maley, Director of Public Safety, and Police Chief Carey
April 21, 2021
Mayor's Update on Parkview
March 10, 2021
Recently, there have been questions about Parkview Apartments. At the Borough, we are just as concerned as residents when we hear about issues that have to do with our neighbors' well-being. These types of concerns are what motivated the redevelopment of the complex in 1996. I wanted to take a moment to outline the issues we have seen in the last few months and the steps we've taken to address them.
First, concerning heat:
When we learned there were heating issues at units, we responded on behalf of neighbors first with immediate code enforcement and, at the same time, investigating long-term solutions for the problem.
- Through pressure on Parkview management, our Fire Department inspectors gained direct access to the heating system controls to investigate further. Our internal review showed unusual heating patterns and we then convinced Morgan properties to hire a heating consultant to see what the issue is with the new boiler system. Parkview adopted the recommended changes and we have seen a marked decrease in heat calls. We also convinced them to raise minimum temperatures set by law at the building, so all units were heated more evenly.
- We set up our own hotline and have our code enforcement officials and staff continuously monitoring social media for complaints (please remember social media is not a reliable way to get information to us – the best way to reach us is to let us know directly!).
- We sent letters to residents twice to provide updates and urge them to report problems to us so that we can enforce laws and have our staff respond immediately.
- We were able to get Parkview to set up a 24/7 hotline for emergency heat issues.
With respect to security:
We have seen an uptick in police calls to Parkview. The greatest increase in calls has been in service, not crime, calls – things like well
checks, nuisance, noise, parking issues, etc. – much of which we feel can be handled by a security team, so Collingswood Police resources are not spending a disproportionate time dealing with Parkview issues. We believe a guard at each building would also provide additional security by monitoring building access to prevent people who are not tenants from entering the complex. Management has been telling us for far too long that they are looking to hire a security firm as Parkview had in the past, but since they have not taken action, we moved earlier this month to introduce a law that mandates it. On March 1, we introduced an ordinance that would require security at a complex as large as Parkview to bring security standards up to a level that we feel would greatly benefit the safety of the residents at the complex. We believe that a presence and door security will go a long way to improve safety, but our police department remains committed to responding to emergencies.
Other help for residents:
It's no secret that the pandemic has taxed social service systems at state and federal levels and brought inadequacies in these systems to light. To help fill the void now, we have taken some steps to help people at Parkview and throughout town that are struggling through Collingswood Cares, a non-profit that we started 20 plus years ago:
- Worked with the county, Touch NJ, and other non-profits to set up several nutritional sites, social services, and health resources onsite at Parkview. We are working on scheduling more of these in 2021.
- We also established an adopt a family program when the pandemic first hit. We organized volunteers in town to shop and deliver groceries for people who could not leave their homes through this program.
- We have been raising money on an ongoing basis to provide gift cards to families for groceries and other essentials.
- We provide resource referrals for individuals for rental assistance programs, unemployment help, and job placement.
- We successfully advocated to our County Commissioners to set up a rental assistance program which provided grants of up to $6,000 in past due rent due to the pandemic. We are currently optimistic that a new program will be part of the newly passed Cares Act.
A few final notes:
There are rumors that Parkview doesn't pay taxes. That is misleading. They pay a 60% rate (currently $1.6 million) under a Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement established in 1996. The payments incrementally increase with time for the duration of the agreement. When the agreement is expired in 2025, they will pay 100%. When we entered a redevelopment agreement with Parkview in 1996 the property was more than $1 million behind in taxes, half vacant, and a massive blight on our town. We lifted the complex from dangerous disrepair to a safe home for a large portion of families and new faces in Collingswood.
Now, as we see a backslide in conditions at the complex, we are more dedicated than ever to finding solutions that keep residents and our community safe. In a complex of more than 1,000 units home to a significant portion of our neighbors, there is too much at stake and we are fully committed to acting on behalf of residents, which is why I wanted to outline the steps we have taken to respond. We are doing everything under the law to hold Morgan Properties accountable, but most importantly, we want them to be compliant and improve the quality of life there. Parkview can and will return to full compliance, so it is a safe and welcoming place for our residents.
IF YOU ARE HAVING AN ISSUE AT PARKVIEW: Management established a hotline for emergency maintenance requests at 833-536-1352, live representatives are available to answer calls 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. Continue to report all routine, non-emergency requests via the resident portal. If you do not receive a satisfactory response from Parkview maintenance, please contact the Borough at email@example.com or call our code enforcement hotline at 856-854-7447 x105.
As always, anyone can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions about Parkview, safety, or any other topic.
Watch the Mayor's video update on Parkview here.
Time for an Update on the Borough's Water System
The Borough has, for decades, worked to keep our quality and delivery system in great working condition. Throughout 2021, the Borough will be tackling necessary improvements to continue meeting State water quality standards. Water will be a main focus of improvements in the coming months and years. There are three major projects in the works currently:
Temporary filters project:
Effective at the end of 2020, NJ adopted new water quality standards to continue providing residents some of the highest quality water in the country. The new guidelines focus on limiting the amount of PFOA, a chemical used in items such as Teflon and Scotch Guard, in the water system. Our tests show that we are only just slightly over permitted parts per trillion occasionally and as such, we have put into place short and long-term plans to meet these requirements.
The Borough’s first step is the addition of a temporary carbon filters at the Comly Ave water treatment plant so we are compliant immediately as required. The filter removes trace amounts of PFOAs and maintains Collingswood water at the State standard. Long-term, a permanent system installed at the Comly Ave plant will efficiently remove PFOAs from Borough water. Temporary filters will be installed in 2021 and we are looking at long term planning to rebuild the Comly Ave plant in the coming years. Learn more about PFOAs in our FAQ found here.
With the temporary filters in place, we will be applying to the State DEP for funding to cover the cost of permanent fixes.
Water main replacement:
The Water Quality Accountability Act (WQAA) sets requirements to improve the safety and reliability of water infrastructure. In accordance with the standards set in the Act, Collingswood is required to replace at least 1/150th of its water mains each year. We are starting with the mains that require frequent attention along Comly, Vineyard and Conger Aves. These planned improvements reduce both the likelihood of water main breaks throughout the Borough and manpower needed to make repairs.
Chlorination contact requirement:
After the opening of well #8 along South Park Drive, we were notified that the Borough would be required to modify the piping layout to satisfy new NJ DEP standards that call for longer exposure to chlorine before water is delivered to customers. To achieve this, additional pipelines will be laid underground around the Hillcrest (Roberts Pool) plant this spring TO allow water to run through pipes for an extended period to meet the contact requirement.
We are also improving our water treatment infrastructure. As part of our shared service with the Merchantville Pennsauken Water Commission (MPWC), we will complete a necessary filter reconstruction project at the Hillcrest plant in 2021. The Borough is also continuing the town wide valve exercising and hydrant flushing to continue to maintain and improve our water system as needed. We will do our best to keep you posted on any work that may lead to temporary discoloration as valves are “exercised” and hydrants flushed. Make sure you sign up for Nixle alert notifications by texting “Collingswood” to 888777.
We will continue to keep residents updated on these projects through multiple channels and on Collingswood.com.