2023 State of the Township

2023 State of the Township
Posted on 02/12/2024

On a day-to-day basis, local governments deal with many services that, although critically important, might seem routine. Residents expect their streets to be plowed when it snows, for paramedics to arrive promptly when they are ill, and for the police to fully investigate their complaints.

Good local governments do all of this well. An excellent local government does the same, with an eye to the future and a broad view of where its community is heading.

Each year, Washington Township takes the opportunity to share with our residents the successes of the previous year and the projects and initiatives we have in store for the community in the coming year. It’s a chance for us to look at how far we have come and what we have accomplished.

In 2023, Washington Township joined a growing number of communities throughout the state in establishing an electric aggregation program for residents. The Township locked in a rate considerably lower than the standard rate offered by AES, offering some financial relief to residents who chose to take advantage of the program.

Washington Township has always been proud of its strong fiscal transparency and responsibility. As we step into a new year and begin tackling new capital improvement projects, we continue to be prudent with our resources, financing all projects debt free by utilizing cash reserves and grant funding opportunities. It’s just one more way that we continue to be excellent stewards of taxpayer money.

One of these capital improvement projects is the Countryside Park Master Plan. With residents voting in favor of the replacement recreation services levy this year, we have approved a long-range plan that will bring much needed improvements to the park including permanent bathrooms, revitalized ponds, better traffic flow, and new picnic shelters. This investment represents a concerted effort by the Township to continue taking care of Tom Stolz’s gift to the community so that his generosity can be enjoyed by generations to come.

Washington Township’s population continues to grow, and with that population growth comes housing needs. In 2023, multiple residential developments were approved, and we heard from our residents throughout the year, both in opposition and in support of these various developments. We encourage this thoughtful dialogue, and we take all public feedback into consideration when making important decisions that impact the future of the Township. Our plan is that this measured and steady growth will result in more families finding their forever home here in our community while continuing to build those strong connections that inspire a sense of belonging.

As we mentioned earlier, many of the services the Township provides can seem mundane and routine. However, these services are the backbone of local government and in Washington Township, we value the pursuit of excellence in all its forms. Nowhere is this more evident than with our Public Works Department. Often working behind-the-scenes, in unfavorable weather and difficult conditions, crews work hard to keep roadways safe, infrastructure updated, cemeteries maintained, and much more. In 2023 alone, 48 streets were included in the Township’s annual Street Improvement Program, which includes curb and sidewalk repair, asphalt milling and paving. There is an in-depth analysis done to determine which streets to include in the annual program. This is called a Pavement Condition Index and the information it provides helps the department forecast future infrastructure projects. This type of thoughtful and practical governance is an example of public service excellence, and we are proud of the services that our Public Works department provides to residents.

That pursuit of excellence continued with our Fire Department as they earned re-accreditation through the Commission on Fire Accreditation International for the fourth time. The accreditation process is not an easy one and includes rigorous submission requirements, a site visit, and a hearing in front of the commissioners. We believe it’s worth it though, as accreditation represents a sustained standard of excellence and encourages our department to raise our standards of safety, service, and effectiveness. It demonstrates our commitment to providing the highest quality of service to our community.

In September, we proudly dedicated the new Fire Station 41 on East Franklin Street and said our goodbyes to the former Station 41 on Maple Avenue. And lastly, we wished Chief Scott Kujawa all the best as he retired from the Township, and we warmly welcomed Chief Nick Bergman as the department’s new Fire Chief. Chief Kujawa served the Washington Township community for 31 years and we are incredibly grateful for his leadership.

Our recreation department is continuously building strong community connections by investing in initiatives, events, and activities that improve our quality of life and inspire a sense of belonging. The community voiced their support of the department in May with the passage of a replacement levy for recreation services. The additional revenue will be used to fund infrastructure repairs as well as improvements to Countryside Park. Asking for a levy increase is not something we take lightly. A great deal of planning, budgeting, and cost analysis goes into the decision and the final approval ultimately rests with the voters. We always operate with the residents’ best interests in mind, and we are grateful for your support.

After years of planning and preparation, the newly expanded and renovated fitness center and lobby at the RecPlex are nearing completion. New windows are currently being installed in the fitness center so that members can enjoy a view of Countryside Park while they work out. The next project to be undertaken is the renovation of the women’s locker room, which I know is something that our members have been looking forward to for quite some time.

One of Washington Township’s core values is our commitment to keeping residents and businesses safe and secure. We invest in people and initiatives that keep our community safe from harm, which is why our continued partnership with Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office is such a valuable asset to the Township. Through both our school resource officer program and our community-oriented policing outreach, deputies have been able to stay connected with neighborhoods and businesses. In 2023, we added a third school resource officer as we continue to build upon our commitment to keeping our schools safe. In August, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office celebrated National Night Out with a community block party here in the Township. While National Night Out is something the Sheriff’s Office recognizes every year, it was the first time we hosted our own event, and it is a tradition we look forward to continuing in the future. This year, the Sheriff’s Office partnered again with the Fire Department and Recreation Department to hold the third annual Cruise-In to the Ice Cream Social at the RecPlex. The event drew a record number of attendees this year and we were blessed with beautiful weather and a fun and memorable day. Thank you to all our local business owners who showed their support through sponsorships and donations. We wouldn’t be able to offer this community event without your generosity.  

With a new year comes new leadership and we are pleased to welcome Brian Lunne to the Board as he has been elected to fill the seat vacated by Dale Berry’s retirement. Brian comes to us with many years of experience as a business owner and an incredibly active community volunteer, including serving on the Township’s Zoning Commission for the past several years. We look forward to his insight and guidance as he joins Trustees Paulson and Lowry.

As always, and most importantly, thank you to our residents. Above all else, our mission remains to provide for and promote the general health, safety, and welfare of township residents and employees as we create an environment focused on building for the future. We are honored to serve you in this capacity and sincerely thank you for joining together to build the community that we all enjoy.