The Borough is working on 2019 initiatives and goals but we would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge 2018 accomplishments. Countless projects were successfully completed, many of which improved community outreach, increased health and wellness opportunities and helped develop and improve the overall quality of life for residents and businesses that call Conshohocken home.
We welcome you to read on for a snapshot of just some of the accomplishments made in 2018, which reflect the attention and effort put forth by the elected officials and administration that serve you.
Restoring Mary Wood Park
One of the most notable achievements was the restoration of Mary Wood Park. Prior to construction, most of the playground equipment was outdated. The Department of Public Services started demolition in February and completed the project in the summer. This was a large undertaking that not only included a complete redesign of the existing playground, but also the construction of a new storm water drainage system.
Mary Wood Park playground officially reopened on Friday, July 13, 2018. The park now includes handicap accessible swings that fulfill ADA safety requirements; three different children areas, suitable for ages six months to 12 years old; poured in place safety surfacing; a new pavilion area that can be used for parties, rentals, programs, picnics and events; a new fence along Hallowell Street for added safety; and features a zip-line for children ages five to 12 years old!
“The end result of the park not only exceeded our expectation in the overall quality of the equipment, design and layout, but it also surpassed what we anticipated in community utilization,” said Ray Sokolowski, Executive Director of Operations. “There wasn’t a day the playground went unused during the warmer months since the park reopened.”
Since Mary Wood Park’s opening in July, it has become a safe and beautiful environment that is readily accessible for residents and visitors to enjoy. The restoration of Mary Wood Park allowed the property to serve as a focal point of Conshohocken. In 2018, it became home to many community events such as Conshohocken’s Rockin’ Summer Concert Series, the Mayor’s Arts Festival and Car Show, the Halloween Parade, the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, and the Grand Menorah Lighting.
Mary Wood Park also marks the fourth playground that the Department of Public Services completed in the last two years. As a means to maintain our newly renovated parks and grounds, Public Services developed a comprehensive park maintenance program in 2018. This allowed them to increase employee training, assess park trees with an arborists, complete upgrades to the River Walk Dog Park, and increase park lighting to improve public safety.
Creating Community Through People, Parks and Programming
2018 was a strong year for the Department of Recreations Services. A new department director was hired in March, which allowed the department to focus on developing more youth and adult programs, as well as, in-house fitness classes. Recreation Services also expanded wellness and educational workshops: For example it hosted a Medicare Seminar for adults and seniors to learn more about their healthcare options. Overall, Recreation Services increased the number of offerings available at the Community Center and within our parks.
“As the new Director of Recreation Services, I was happy to see an increase in numbers for our community events,” said Lauren Irizarry, Director of Recreation Services. “From our Senior Luncheons to our Winter Wonderland, the response was overwhelming! I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that there was such interest in our younger programs such as Ballet and Tiny Tots. In 2019, I am looking forward to continuing to create an atmosphere where our Borough residents and their families can live, work, and play!”
Updates were also made to the interior of the Community Center at the Fellowship House. The lobby, reception area, activity space, and group exercise studio all received a facelift with a new coat of paint and TV monitors were installed to display scrolling department information. If you haven’t been by the Community Center at the Fel lately, stop in to see!
The Conshohocken Police and Fire Departments also increased public outreach initiatives in 2018. The Police Department introduced Coffee with a Cop, a nationally recognized event “dedicated to encourage communication and positive interactions between law enforcement agencies and the public.” Three of our Conshohocken Police Officers visited Brunch Café in October to sit down with community members to share coffee and conversation.
“This was a fun event and was well received by our police officers and the community,” said Police Superintendent, George Metz. “We look forward to hosting it again in 2019 and hope to see more people attend.”
In addition to Coffee with a Cop, the PD introduced bike safety seminars for adults and children and continued to host programs for underprivileged youth and families in Conshohocken. During the holiday season, Police officers helped distribute 32 Thanksgiving meals to residents and helped donate unwrapped toys to community families. A few Police Officers also participated in Shop with a Cop, an annual event started in 2016 by the Conshohocken Police Association, which awarded four Conshohocken Elementary students with an all expense paid shopping spree.
2018 gave our community more opportunities to get to know our Fire Department as well. The Conshohocken Fire Department introduced two Sprinkler Nights in August at Mary Wood and Sutcliffe Parks. This not only provided a fun way for people to beat the summer heat, but it also gave them a chance to meet our local fire volunteers who serve at Washington Fire Company No. 1 and Conshohocken Fire Company No. 2. Both events were well attended and gave individuals another reason to utilize our parks!
This past fall, the Conshohocken Fire Department also hosted its annual Fire Prevention Demo. The demo took place on October 18, 2018 and provided live fire demonstration on how to extinguish fires, how to escape a smoke filled home, how to stop, drop and roll, and gave information on how to be proactive to avoid potentially dangerous fire scenarios.
In November, Emergency Services lead a full-scale emergency simulation exercise that involved local fire, police, ambulance and first responders, as well as Montgomery County responders. The simulation reenacted a realistic mass casualty incident in a controlled environment, and included mock injured volunteers and simulated smoke. In preparation for the simulation, Emergency Services also conducted a tabletop training in April in which our elected officials, Borough Administration and all departments were involved in working through a large-scale emergency situation.
Some achievements made in 2018 were not as visible to the public, but were equally important. The Administrative Department initiated credit card processing at the Police Station, Borough Administrative Office and the Community Center at the Fellowship House. This allowed users to easily make payments or register for recreational programs, classes, and memberships, etc., directly online. In addition, Administration was able to rehab several properties through the Borough’s Housing Rehabilitation Program.
“Housing rehabilitation finished another successful year completing repairs to eight homes for Conshohocken residents with very low to moderate incomes,” said Chris Stetler, Community Development and Zoning Officer. “This five decades old program has assisted hundreds of residents allowing them to remain safely in their home. The Program continues to accept applications for assistance.”
Ms. Stetler was also instrumental in acquiring a 902 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Through her grant application, Conshohocken was awarded $212,363 to help improve its leaf and yard waste recycling program. The awarded funds helped purchase a new swap loader truck. In addition to collecting leaf and yard waste, the vehicle can also be used for: snow plowing; salting and brining streets; clearing out storm water inlets to aid in potential emergency type situations; transporting portable containers through the Borough; and will eliminate the need to rent equipment for fallen tree debris. The new swap loader vehicle is estimated to be delivered in the fall of 2019, just in time for fall leaf collection.
As a means to improve street maintenance during inclement weather, Public Services also acquired new brining equipment in 2018. Borough roads can now be pre-treated with a concentrated salt and water solution prior to certain types of ice and/or snowstorms. This treatment is much more effective than putting rock salt on the roads and can prevent ice and snow from bonding with the pavement. “To complete all roads within the Borough it takes about four hours and 1100 gallons of brine. Once its down, the solution melts the first layer of snow, which eliminates the need to start plowing roads right away. It also enables our plows to clear snow away from the streets more easily,” said Ray Sokolowski, Executive Director of Operations. “We feel it is a cost effective way to handle some of our smaller snowstorms and allows us more time to prepare for bigger ones.”
Lastly, one of the biggest accomplishments made in 2018 was the adoption of Conshohocken’s Comprehensive Plan. This will serve as a guidance tool for our elected officials over the next 10 years and help our Borough accomplish the goals and recommendations outlined in the document. Ultimately, it will help ensure Conshohocken continues to be a thriving, vibrant, livable and equitable community.
Overall, 2018 was a successful year, full of planning, hard work, and dedication. The accomplishments achieved are testament to the devotion of our Borough Council, Mayor and Administration.
“I think it is important to reflect on the accomplishments from the previous year because it highlights the many services that the community receives as a result of their tax dollars and 2018 was a fantastic year for the Borough of Conshohocken!” Said Stephanie Cecco, Borough Manager. “We look forward to continuing to serve our residents, businesses, community groups, and visitors in 2019. As administrators, it is a privilege to work hard to provide quality services to our constituents with the ultimate goal of enhancing the quality of life in Conshohocken. Thank you for allowing us to serve you! Thank you to the elected officials for all of their guidance and direction from the commencement to completion of each project. We wish everyone a happy and prosperous 2019."