On Tuesday, September 5, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held to officially open Bellmawr’s new basketball court on Creek Road.
As a special way to thank the members of the Bellmawr Highway Department for their work in building the new court, the department’s children and grandchildren were invited to take part in a ribbon cutting ceremony. They were also given the honor of taking the first shots on it.
(Photo by SJO)
Prior to the ribbon cutting, Borough Clerk Chuck Sauter said: “How fitting this ribbon cutting ceremony takes place one day after Labor Day as we find it a way to celebrate all the hard work put forth by our Department of Public Divisions in creating a safe environment for the children of Bellmawr to play, grow, compete, and enjoy our town on this new court.”
Boro Clerk Chuck Sauter at the ribbon cutting. (Photo by SJO)
Sauter gave background on the project by stating that many factors made this possible. “Mayor Frank Filipek, along with past and present members of Council, have played a vital role in the planning, financing, and creation of this soon to be focal point in our town.”
For conceptualizing a sunset pier, he credited former Bell Oaks librarian, Joanne Burns. He also said that Borough Administrator and former Councilman, Josh Tregear, had the idea for a special place to fish with his children. A plan was set forth to make this become a reality and Councilmen Steve Sauter and Jim D’Angelo “firmly endorsed” it.
From left: Conuncilman Steve Hagerty, Chuck Sauter, Steve Sauter, Jim D’Angelo, Jamie Casey, Ray Bider and Josh Tregear. In front is Borough engineer Tom Cundey of Remington and Vernick. (Photo by SJO)
Many hurdles were encountered and changes were made to the original plans. However, the concept of a basketball court always remained. Other desired goals – including adequate parking and turn-around capabilities for emergency flooding were also achieved.
Of Bellmawr’s new basketball court, Sauter said: “Hopefully, this will produce future stars.”
The basketball court is phase one of the Recreation Enhancement Waterfront Access project.
Phase two includes plans for a veterans memorial to be constructed in the rear of the property.
Councilman Ray Bider said that plans include an All War Memorial and each branch of the military will be represented. The goal is that the memorial will be fully installed by Veterans Day.
Mayor Frank Filipek said that trees will also be planted. Councilman Steve Sauter said that the area will also be landscaped and that an irrigation system will be installed to ensure that the area will continue to look nice.
For the official ribbon cutting, Bellmawr’s resident superhero, A.J. Gonzales did the honors and was assisted by Highway Department supervisor, Joe Ciano.
A.J.’s father, Rico, works for the Highway Department.
A.J. Gonzales cuts the ribbon with assistance from Joe Ciano. (Photo by SJO)
In addition to Mayor Filipek and several members of Bellmawr Council, Sauter also acknowledged Assemblyman Arthur Barclay, Kevin Walls, and Datsun Wesley — former star basketball players from Camden High’s basketball team — for attending the ribbon cutting.
Last year, the Borough received $25,000 in funds from a Camden County Recreation Facility Enhancement Grant for the Bellmawr Recreation Enhancement Waterfront project.
This year, the Borough was awarded $50,000 in Camden County Recreational Facility Enhancement grant funds to replace the playground equipment at the Scott Merulla Park at the Recreation Center ($25,000) and to replace the basketball courts there ($25,000).
Architect rendering of the Bellmawr Recreation Waterfront Access project includes Phase 1 – which was the installation of the basketball courts and Phase 2 – a veterans’ memorial.
Check out these aerial photos by George Reinnles, Supervisor of the Water Department.
Photo Gallery by SJO:
From left: Assemblyman Arthur Barclay, Joe Ciano, A.J. Gonzales and Rico Gonzales
A.J. Gonzales cuts the ribbon with assistance from Joe Ciano. Looking on are Pat Gallagher, Assemblyman Arthur Barclay and Rico Gonzales