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"There is a better, more intelligent, and less expensive way to provide local services, and we have it in our collective power to bring about changes for the better."

Alan J. Karcher,
Multiple Municipal Madness

Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Kevin Riordan discusses Merchantville-Cherry Hill merger

“We interpret the [municipal consolidation] law a little differently than DCA,” says Gina Genovese, executive director of the nonprofit organization Courage to Connect New Jersey, which is lobbying for consolidations statewide.”This is an issue that everyone has said for years the public is not going to go for, and here you have a group that says, ‘We think we can be part of the solution.’ And they were shot down,” says Genovese, adding that Courage to Connect would ask the state to review the decision.

Merchantville Mayor Frank North, however, thinks DCA made the right call. “We support a study, but it shouldn’t be done without the governing body being involved,” he says. “Let’s do this. But let’s do it right.”

Merchantville Connecting, the mayor adds, “is doing their own thing.”

Cherry Hill’s resolution did not cite “any particular entity” within Merchantville but rather indicated the township’s willingness to consider consolidation, says Dan Keashen, spokesman for Mayor Bernie Platt.

“We were asked to dance, and we want to [dance] with whoever the proper entity is,” he says. “If it’s the governing body, fine. If it’s the petitioners, fine.”

With the prospective partners (and their parents in Trenton) so cautious, I won’t be surprised if this dance takes awhile. Maybe another 58 years.

This article originally ran in the Philadelphia Inquirer. To download a full PDF, click here

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