• Joseph F. Berenato

Council resolution support Police Department

New resolution supports Police Department

Hammonton police car parked at Town Hall. (THG/Kristin Guglietti. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

HAMMONTON—Council held its regularly monthly meeting at 4 p.m. on July 27 via Zoom teleconferencing software.


At the meeting, council passed Resolution No. 088-2020, supporting the town of Hammonton’s police department:


“Whereas, the last few months have been challenging for all, the police officers of the town of Hammonton have risen to the challenge and showed what a professional, responsive and respectful department we have: and therefore, the mayor and council of the town of Hammonton, fully support and appreciate the job that our police department does for our community,” the resolution reads.


Before the resolution passed, Mayor Stephen DiDonato explained the resolution’s purpose to the members of town council.


“Mayor and council are going to sign it, going to the chief, thanking our police department, who’s been through a very tough and tumultuous four or five months here. I thank them for the way they’ve carried themselves, in their professionalism, their responsiveness, their respectfulness, and they truly are leaders in policing in not only our town, but, I believe, in the state of New Jersey. So, I thank them very much,” DiDonato said.


The resolution passed unanimously.


In other business, council introduced Ordinance No. 007-2020, amending Chapter 271-28: Speed Zones. This ordinance seeks to change the speed limits on South Grand Street, from 12th Street to Ninth Street, to 25 mph, and on South Second Road, from 12th Street to North Chew Road, to 35 mph.


During the report from the Law and Order Committee, Hammonton Police Chief Kevin Friel discussed the reasons for the limit changes.


Regarding the change on South Grand Street, Friel said that the road is much more heavily traveled than it was in years past, noting that there was a time that, “everyone would know that as the way to Whitehall Labs.”


“Back when it was Whitehall Labs, there were very few residents that were back in that area as well. Due to the dynamic change of our community, and the development of our community, that roadway has a higher population of residential buildings in that area. There is a lot more frontage on that area, and we’ve had a lot of accidents that probably could have been prevented or curtailed with a reduction in speed,” Friel said.


Currently, Friel said, South Grand Street is marked as a 35 mph zone.


“Due to the analysis of the traffic that travels it, the roadway conditions, the frontage of buildings, we’re moving to reduce that to a 25 mph speed zone, which would then amend the ordinance; South Grand Street would be a 25 mph speed zone from the block of 12th Street, where it originates, all the way through to Ninth Street,” Friel said.


Friel said that the speed limit increase for South Second Road was warranted, in his opinion, because the existing limit—25 mph—is too low for that road.


“For some reason, when that roadway was changed—and I’m not sure what timeframe that it was changed to a 25 (mph speed zone)—it actually does not really regulate at 25 ... The roadway condition, being that it is a straightaway, the number of intersections in that portion, the number of frontage that we have of buildings in that roadway, would actually dictate it to be a 40 mph zone,” Friel said.


According to Friel, a speed assessment was performed, which illustrated that the 85th percentile of traffic traveling that road did so at speeds between 35 and 40 mph. The decision to seek an increase to 35 mph instead of 40 mph, Friel said, was a conservative measure taking into account the possibility of more residential development on that roadway in the future.


“I want to conservatively modify that speed zone to a 35 instead of a 25. I think that that would make less people be a violator, because normal traffic that would be able to travel that roadway was being a violator by being 10 miles over the speed limit. At 35, they’re in violation. I figured at 35, that would be a conservative measure to help to reduce the people who are passing on that roadway, and make it a lot safer,” Friel said.


During that report, Friel also gave an update on the status of the new vehicles for the police department, noting that most of them have arrived.


“There’s one new vehicle that’s left in production right now, so we’re putting in a cost savings for our community, and green credits with our hybrid vehicles. They’re using less fuel, and also help to go toward our green credits in our community,” he said.


Friel also reported on social activities during the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in regard to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).


“The 16th was a little dicey with the number of people there, but, given that, every year, the 16th is always our highest event day, I think that we all did well as a community though, with social distancing for the most part, and so far the numbers are showing that as well, too,” he said.


He also noted the seasonal decrease in population and gave a positive outlook regarding new cases of COVID-19.


“We’ve had a departure of a lot of our migrant workers at this point. We’re still holding very steady with the number of new cases; it’s very low in our community, so the community’s doing a very good job with that,” Friel said.


During the mayor’s report, DiDonato also spoke regarding COVID-19 and the need to continue to wear masks.


“We need to drive this virus into the ground, gang. School’s going to start in five, six weeks here. I believe if we all mask up—if we all do the right thing—wash our hands over the next five, six weeks, and socially separate, that we could drive this virus into the ground—not only locally but the bigger picture, state and nationally—before school starts, and then, God forbid, the kids get it, bring it home to the grandparents, parents and this whole thing starts up again,” DiDonato said.


DiDonato acknowledged that wearing the masks can be uncomfortable but necessary.


“Honestly, between you and I, I hate the masks. I don’t like them. I don’t like wearing them. They’re uncomfortable. But, if I can help my fellow man and my neighbor by driving this virus and maybe saving a life, or save an injury or save a sickness, that’s my responsibility. So, I will put up with hating the mask to save someone. I’m asking you to do the same for me and your fellow man or woman, and your neighbor. Let’s drive this together. If we do this for four, five, six weeks, and get ready for school, I believe we will all pay dividends in the fall,” he said.


Town council will hold a special meeting via Zoom teleconferencing software at 4 p.m. on August 6 to discuss the 2020 Road Program and Ordinance No. 008-2020, authorizing the issuance of bonds for various improvements.


The next regular meeting of town council is scheduled for August 24.