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Hopewell Borough addresses safety throughout town

by Aaron Twitchell

Traffic, parking, and pedestrian safety continue to drive changes in Hopewell Borough. If motorists have not yet noticed the new safety measures, they will be made aware when their friendly neighborhood Hopewell Township police officer points them out, as enforcement will continue to intensify. Heading out of the Borough on West Broad, for example, one cannot miss the mechanical sign alerting drivers that a new 25 mph speed limit is in effect. Eventually, all of Broad Street will change to 25 mph in efforts to increase safety for pedestrians, including children who walk to and from Hopewell Elementary School.

This and more occupied Borough Council during its latest meeting at Borough Hall on March 7, 2024.

During the first public comment period of the evening, one resident from Model Avenue continued the theme of vehicle and pedestrian safety, asking Council to consider upgrading traffic lights to accommodate an “all stop” crossing system. The system activates red lights in all directions when the button is pressed from any corner. Currently, some traffic lights in the Borough cannot be converted to such a system, a reality bemoaned by both the resident and some members of Council.

Three ordinances that were given a first reading at the February meeting were opened for second readings and the requisite public hearing. During the latter, members of the public are permitted to comment on the proposed ordinances or to ask questions. Incidentally, there was no public discussion and each ordinance passed unanimously—

  • No. 877 amends the text of Section 3(a) to now permit public funds toward the “restoration of and repairs to the Historic Hopewell Borough Railroad Station”
  • No. 878 creates lead-based paint hazard inspection requirements for rental dwellings in Hopewell Borough
  • No. 879 provides for the replacement of the water main on Newell Place

Interested residents are invited to read the ordinances in full on the Borough website.

Committee liaison reports made up the bulk of the remainder of the meeting. The Library Board has a new president and several new members. Patrons and staff are enjoying the efficiency and comfort of new windows being installed, and library employees are devising processes to deal with any efforts to ban books. Such efforts have not surfaced in our area, but the library seeks to be proactive in its approach to the controversial movement.

The Economic Development Committee, reported on by Council newcomer Heidi Wilenius, has reviewed the Borough’s official Parking Ordinances, which govern where, when, and how long people are allowed to park. Proposed changes are forthcoming, which will be aimed at maximizing parking efficiency for businesses while still meeting the needs of Borough residents who need street parking for their vehicles.

Wilenius also informed Council that the EDC is working on addressing the many vacant storefronts in the Borough. Plans are in the works to beautify streets, install directories, and take other measures to attract businesses.

Several other liaisons reported on the work of their respective committees—

  • The Shade Tree committee has planted more than 150 trees in the Borough while removing several dead or diseased trees
  • Free tax help is available for residents who are 60+ at the Mercer County Library, Hopewell Township branch on Pennington-Titusville Rd
  • The Green Team has applied for grant money from Sustainable Jersey to fund various initiatives, possibly including a composting program*

Mayor Ryan Kennedy expanded upon the remarks made by Board of Education member Mark Peters, who introduced himself during the first public comment period. Both officials reminded attendees of the upcoming campaign to raise awareness of the HVRSD school board referendum, which is set to fund major repairs on buildings in the District, among other things.

Kennedy touched on new affordable housing legislation that has passed at the State level, although its impact on Borough finances is unclear at this time. The Borough is also working to address higher rates pushed out by NJ American Water to the tune of 22% and will share those plans as they are developed.

In an impressive technological feat, people who were attending the meeting via Zoom were able to participate during the second public comment section. Although no virtual hands were raised, such a development represents an important win for the Mayor and Council, who have made accessibility top priorities. Readers are encouraged to visit the Borough website for full documentation on Council meetings, including agendas, minutes, ordinances, and accounting of public funds.

The next meeting of the Hopewell Borough Council is scheduled for April 3.

*Edited 3/15 at 9:54am to clarify that the Green Team has applied for the Sustainable Jersey grant, but has not received notification yet of awards. Thanks to Council member Heidi Wilenius for pointing this out to MercerMe.

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