Remember when Gloucester Township

Gloucester Township, Camden County, NJ

Gloucester Township long time residents remember when their town was a growing, and thriving place to live. Blackwood-Clementon was your exit off of the "east-west freeway" and to the town you loved to call your own. Sure there was homes still being built, new stores coming into town, and a superior school district that attracted all who wanted a better life for themselves, and especially their children.

Blackwood-Clementon and Crosskeys roads were moderately traveled, horse farms and other farmland was still plentiful, among the existing, and new homes springing up.
You frequented the stores that knew your name, and you knew the store owner, and their family members. Your town was looked after by the elected officials who's names you barely knew, but why would you need to, things were as good as they could be in your mini city, known as Gloucester Township.

Most , if not everyone knew your beloved Mayor, Ann Mullen, who's name was synonyms with the town and maybe one or two council people who could help you breeze through putting that addition on your home, or even a shed that would be put up with little or no complications. It was like a lake with not a ripple in this town.

As time went on, and we lost our beloved Mayor Mullen, the town surely felt different, but not all that noticeable. The new Mayor Love surely knew how Ann Mullen would have liked her town run, and things started off, just that way. Politics was not the talk of the town, but then again, why did it need to be. Only those on the inside of political baseball knew the ins, and outs of those politics. Gloucester Township was still the town that had "non partisan" May elections, there was no heavy bickering, or finger pointing, and not much in the way of publicly seen "dirty" or aggressive political races that could be seen by the masses. Democrats and Republicans could run together on a ticket, under a slogan, and most wouldn't really notice who was what. Just vote for the slate that they liked best, or who persuaded them to their side.

The town was still the envy of many other towns in the area, as it was nicely populated, clean, great schools, and everyone wanted some of that. Especially since he property taxes were well in check, and surely reasonable to those that wanted to live, or buy there. Each area of Gloucester Township, had it's own individual identity, from Hilltop and Blenheim of the northern end, through Glen Oaks, Millbridge and Laurel Springs in the central, to Blackwood and Erial making up the southern end, it was all a part of GT, and it was proud, to call home.

The township would indeed continue to grow. New shopping districts in the southern end on Crosskeys road, a few more stores on the northern end of the Pike and others to come.

In 2005, that marked the end of what was those "non partisan" elections. Some of those insiders that we spoke of earlier felt that those that won in that year, were kind of outsiders, and weren't to their liking, even though the establishment still held a commanding majority in the local government. So, the "powers that be' decided that if a few more "Rs" were too much for the mix, for their liking, that they would change all of that and move the local Gloucester twp elections to November and make them "partisan", Democrats versus Republicans, which as most residents know, changed the course of politics from that day on. No more mixing Democrats and Republicans on a "slogan" ticket.

That would lead to drastic changes in all aspects of local governments, that are still non partisan, but are anything but now. The gloves would be off, and the residents wallets would open and fair game. That was obvious and hard hitting just after the first November/Partisan race, when residents saw their highest property tax increase. After current Mayor Mayer took office, in January of 2010. The 26% tax increase would set a new course for the tax paying residents of the town. Most thought that some updated improvements were needed and that huge increase would take care of that. Unfortunately, that was not the case. That became the start of a pattern that would soon find reckless and frivolous spending that were digging into the pockets of long time residents, especially those that had paid their mortgage off years ago. Sure there were high end upgraded parks and playgrounds, new Public works buildings and MUA buildings, but for a brief moment, the town looked like it was getting a spit shine, or sprucing up.

When the dust settled from the devastating tax increase, things looked like they were going to be fine, not much harmed. Until it became re-election time. It was then the the "pattern" had revealed it's course. Immediately after the Mayor's re-election it was an every other year hammering of tax increases. 2014 , 2016, 2018, and then the "Premium" and luxury items started showing up on the radar and those same tax increases lead to a new pattern, people leaving the township. Including those who had paid their mortgage off and now falling behind. Also the GT logo stickers starting popping up all over town, almost at over kill pace. Those same little parts of town were losing their identity to the bigger township name, and logo. Neighbors leaving, houses being left vacant for longer periods of time, some for years, and new neighbors being a welcome sight.

Sure you have a great hockey complex, acres, and acres of the finest "astro turf" that money can buy, exquisite tools, and toys for many of the township entities and yes, including the Police, but at what cost? Each little section of Gloucester Township had it's own identity. Each and every family, and neighbor made up that part of town. Many of them would have stayed if it hadn't gotten like this, and yes, some may have gone anyway. No one will know for sure, but one thing is for sure, when times change, people, places and things, change, and adapt, with the times. For Gloucester Township, did some forced changes bring on forced changes to the people that used to call this town our home. Just about any resident could tell a story about a neighbor, or many that wished that they did not have to go. Just imagine, if those forced changes didn't come about, imagine if those who wanted to stay did stay. If our schools stayed performing as they did and many more would want to have what we had. Just imagine, what could have been. Just imagine, or remember when.