Our Communications Platform and Ongoing Initiative Along Main St.

Mayor Manzo clarifies some Facebook chatter about two properties in town, and the township's plan for them.

To Our Harrison Family,

The committee and I take great pride in our communication initiative started a few years ago. It includes active postings on Facebook, the Happening in the Hill newsletter, and my email updates. These “real time” digital platforms give our departments and the Committee an ability to connect with our community in a quick, efficient, and effective manner. As we experienced, the pandemic triggered an escalation in the use of these tools, with our weekly COVID-19 Updates. One of the great advantages of utilizing digital communications is the ability for them to be two way. For example, I often received input and responses to my Covid-Updates, many of which allowed a resident or business owner and me to continue dialogue and exchanges on a topic or question. Occasionally this led to another email blast meant to clarify or answer a question about something that was happening in the hill.

Today, I’d like to clarify some Facebook chatter a resident passed on to me pertaining to the two houses on North Main Street (92 & 94), opposite the Harrison House, that were taken down last week. There has been commentary that this was for an expansion of the 55+ community being developed behind these properties. That is not the case, both 92 and 94 North Main Street are owned by the township and the long-term intention is to turn that corner into a visual gateway to our Historic District. No significant design or plan is in place yet, but the vision includes a reflection space with benches and perhaps a clock tower or water feature. For now, the area will be cleaned up and graded with grass planted and converted to green space.

This fits into our Main Street beautification initiative that began several years ago. Ideally, we prefer the complete restoration of a Main Street property by a private owner. As an incentive, we took steps a few years back to designate the entire Main Street District, a Redevelopment Zone. This allows for a special abatement program, although restoration is not always a fiscally feasible option. This was the case with 92 North Main Street, as well as 5 South Main Street (the little pink house on the corner across from The Old Mill). After years of sitting idly for sale and further deteriorating, with no interested buyer, the township stepped in to purchase both properties for $65,000 and $55,000, respectively. With input and support from our Historic Preservation Commission, the demolition of these properties was the only option. This was also the case for 94 North Main Street, which was donated to the town by the county years ago when the 322 Bypass was built.

Our leadership team is committed to a philosophy of adding relevant commercial and retail space in town, while maintaining the historic charm of Mullica Hill, especially along our beloved Main Street. In the coming months there will be more news that I’m excited to share on this front, as potential projects crystalize. Stay tuned…

Together for Harrison Township,
Lou Manzo
Your Mayor