We hope that all township residents had a joyous 2015 holiday season, and are now, as are we, looking forward to a prosperous new year.
As we enter the new 2016 year, we reflect on a quote by the Greek philosopher, Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit,” and a quote by the Greek dramatist, Sophocles, “Success is dependent on efforts,” These quotes remind us of our responsibility as your township supervisors in serving the residents of independence Township-to serve township residents with a commitment of excellence in governing as a standard measure, and achieve success in improving our township and quality of life through continued and focused efforts. Therefore, in 2016, we look forward to facing new challenges, and setting new goals with those goals becoming new achievements.
We are pleased to announce that Independence Township has recently won an award of Excellence for the Declaration of Independence Township newsletter in the statewide, Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS) 48th Annual Township Citizens Communications Contest. The annual, statewide contest, recognizes townships for outstanding efforts in achievements in citizen communication. The contest had entries from across the commonwealth. Independence Township received Second Place in the Class 4 Newsletter Category (for townships with population under 2000) for excellence in keeping our residents updated and informed about our community. It has been our pleasure providing township residents with the newsletter and we will continue to strive for excellence in communication in the years to come. This award will be on display at the Township municipal building.
In the first quarter of 2016 we will be introducing a newly designed and improved township Web site. We are currently working with a Web site developer to update the Township Web site. Features will include a new appearance, along with improvement to content, functionality, and navigation. We believe the new Web site will be more comprehensive and better serve the needs of township residents.
An additional improvement to the Township expected for completion by the end of the first quarter of 2016, is the removal and replacement of deteriorated street curbs and gutters in downtown Avella from the Family Practice at 9 Campbell Street to the Presbyterian Church at 25 Campbell Street. The new street curbs and gutters will not only add aesthetic value to downtown, but will also address safety issues.
Also scheduled during the first quarter of 2016 is the beginning of excavation for Phase I and Phase II of the Independence Township Community Park. After excavation, park construction will proceed. Phase I is fully funded and Phase II is approximately 30 percent funded. Currently, the Township is awaiting notice as to if we will be awarded additional grant funds from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) for further park development. We also applied for the Local Share Account (LSA-from gaming revenues) grant last quarter of 2015, however, the Township was net awarded this grant. We will continue to apply for grants and we will update residents on the status of the grants and park development as events occur. We are also pleased to announce that the Township has recently received a $10,000.00 donation from Sunoco Logistics, Inc. to help fund playground equipment for our future park as they become available.
Upcoming in 2016, PennDot will be rehabilitating one bridge and replacing one bridge in our community. The bridge located near Avella Motor and Body Company will be rehabilitated with a new composite concrete deck (estimated construction April-July 2016), and the single span bridge near the Polar Star will be replaced with a new single span structure (estimated construction July-November 2016). There will more detailed information concerning construction dates, detours, etc. in our April 2016 Newsletter.
In review of the last quarter of 2015, we were pleased to have accomplished the demolition of two blighted properties in the Township along Route 50 by working with the Redevelopment Authority of the County of Washington and utilizing Community Development Block Grant Funds. It is our intent to address additional blighted properties in 2016. We are currently discussing with PennDOT the installation of guiderails along Route 50 at the demolition sites for the safety of all motorists traveling Route 50.
During the last quarter of 2015 we also made improvements to the Community Center parking lot by installing parking blocks, and installed additional parking blocks at the American Legion parking area. An improvement to our Public Works Department in December 2015 was the addition of a new one ton truck to service our township roads. As always, maintaining our township roads is a priority, and the addition of another truck will help the Public Works Department efficiently and effectively service our roads. Oil and Gas Impact Fee Fund money was used to purchase the truck.
Adoption of revisions to the Township Zoning Code and adoption of the Township Oil and Gas Ordinance (to regulate oil and gas operations within the township) which was anticipated by the end of 2015 has been postponed. Because of a recent ruling by the Federal Supreme Court pertaining to the gas industry concerning deep injection wells, backflow waters, and impoundments will require further revisions to the Zoning Code and Ordinance.
Finally, with our continued commitment to support those who provide social services and strive to improve the quality of life in our community, we have recently allocated funds from the Oil and Gas Impact Fee Fund to the following: $23,000.00 to the Avella Volunteer Fire Department for improvements and repairs, $3,000.000 to the Avella Area Public Library to support various library programs, and $4,000.00 to Athletics, Inc. for restoration of baseball fields.
In closing, we wish to extend to all township residents a new year that is blessed with good health, and filled with joy, laughter, and good fortune. May your dreams for 2016 become your goals, and may those goals become your achievements and successes!
Thomas Jennings, Chairman
Louis Brandenburg, Jr., Co-Chairman