For New Garden Twp., 24/7 police coverage

Supervisors also OK 2014 budget with no tax hike, 5-year police contract 

By Kathleen Brady SheaManaging Editor, The Times

New Garden Township awards plaques of appreciation to three outgoing supervisors: Robert Perrotti (from left), Peter Scilla, and Bob Norris.

New Garden Township awards plaques of appreciation to three outgoing supervisors: Robert Perrotti (from left), Peter Scilla, and Bob Norris.

In keeping with the holiday spirit, the New Garden Township supervisors came to Monday night’s meeting bearing gifts, including the passage of a $4,673,100 budget for 2014 with no tax increase.

In addition, the supervisors unanimously approved a five-year contract with the police bargaining unit, a vote that paved the way for making a pilot program of 24/7 police coverage permanent. Supervisors’ Chairman Stephen Allaband said the township would receive the additional protection at no extra cost.

Only outgoing Supervisor Robert Perrotti opposed the plan. “I really don’t think this is a decision this board should make,” he said, pointing out that three new members – a majority of the five-person board – will take over in January. “I think it’s a huge mistake.” Allaband pointed out that the new board could overturn the decision if they felt it wasn’t in the township’s best interests.

Supervisor Bob Norris credited representatives from the police and the township for their professional negotiations, a process that represented give and take on both sides. “I hope you’re as happy with the contract as we are,” Officer Gerard M. Lindenlauf said to the supervisors.

After the meeting, Lindenlauf, president of the New Garden Police Officers Association, said  the township was able to  to increase the coverage without increasing costs mainly by adding part-time officers and eliminating overtime.

In other police business, Police Chief Gerald R. Simpson reported that the relocation of the department into a new modular facility adjacent to the old one had been accomplished, a move necessitated by mold. He and Norris also gave a preliminary briefing on a tour the pair took of seven other departments that have either renovated their facilities, built new ones, or retrofitted existing buildings within the past decade.

Norris said the purpose was to get an overview of what other departments had done to help New Garden determine its best option for establishing a permanent home for the Police Department. Norris said no decisions have been made, and the choices range from retrofitting and possibly expanding the Township Building or another structure to constructing a new facility from scratch.

Among the departments studied, the costs ranged from $1.2 million in Oxford, which serves less than half the residents that New Garden has, to $4.5 million for the Westtown-East Goshen Regional Department, which provides service to nearly three times as many residents. The average completion time for the projects was a little less than three years.

Simpson expressed gratitude to the other departments, which also included Willistown and East Brandywine in Chester County, and Smyrna and New Castle City in Delaware. He said he appreciated their willingness to share their experiences.

Three exiting supervisors – Norris, Perrotti and Peter Scilla – also received thanks and a plaque for their service. Perrotti had the longest tenure – since 2002. Norris began his stint in 2006, and Scilla stepped in six months ago to fill a vacancy that was created by the resignation of Warren Reynolds.

Another gift of sorts for township residents came from Chris Robinson, who spent time in the Chester County Archives to answer a long-nagging question: How old is New Garden, anyway?

Peg Jones, a fellow member of the township’s Historical Commission, said a date of 1700, which even appears on the police logo, has been used over the years, but never authenticated. Robinson said the oldest legal document that could be found is dated 1714. “I was amazed at how much U.S. history is around us,” he said of his research.

Jones said the Historical Commission wanted to present the supervisors with a proclamation establishing the 1714 date because the board has been so supportive of the commission’s efforts. “We wanted this to happen on your watch,” Jones said.

In other business, the supervisors heard from Marion Waggoner, a resident who prepared a detailed report on what he termed the adverse effects of a plan by the Artesian Water Company to activate a well in the township that would draw from the Cockeysville Aquifer. Allaband suggested directing the solicitor to notify Artesian that their plan violates the township ordinances, but Norris suggested that the township might need additional consultation. “It looks like the train is going regardless” of what we say, Norris said.

The supervisors opted to deny what interim Township Manager Spence Andress labeled “a strange request” from a man seeking permission to trap foxes on coyotes on township property. After some discussion about who had even seen coyotes and why the man wanted them – “He sells their fur,” said Andress – the board concluded that permitting the activity could open a can of worms.









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