by Barbara Sherf
With a light snow falling this past Saturday, Springfield Township residents were out in force to tour the new township building, library and public works department lat 1501 Paper Mill Road.
Assistant Township Supervisor Mike Taylor greeted residents and offered them full run of the space, which was more than a decade in planning, and 18 months under construction.
Board president Jeff Harbison stood next to the architectural drawings with Joy Bergey, who served on the Municipal Campus Advisory Committee.
“We are excited about this new location and feel it’s a great investment for the township,” Harbison said. “People were very supportive as the old building was built in the early 60s.”
“I think this is a fabulous new facility and much needed in terms of positioning Springfield Township as a premier place to live and work,” Bergey said.
Township Manager Don Berger, who was unable to attend the opening, noted several eco-friendly features, including a green roof at the library and natural filters to assist with stormwater management. In addition, all the lights are LEDs, and the library LED lights contain sensors that dim or brighten based on the amount of natural light available. Finally, six detention basins with water recharge design and three rain gardens were installed to improve stormwater quality and recharge the ground water.
Melanie Goldner, who lives in the panhandle section of the township, was gushing over the complex.
“My reaction is one of joy first and foremost, and to see everyone coming out to see our township coming into the current century is fabulous,” she said. “Happy workers make a happy community. I even took my teenage son to the holding cells to see the consequences of your actions.”
Police Chief Michael Pitkow noted that the department has what is called a sally port, or basically a large garage where a prisoner is brought in and then immediately taken across the hall to the holding cells.
“It’s a lot safer for our employees,” he explained.
The department grew from 8,000 square feet to almost 19,000 square feet.
Bonnie Davis, township treasurer and tax collector, now has an actual office.
“I’m glad to finally get all of these papers out of my house and in a secure building,” Davis said. “I’ve already met here with one resident, and I will continue to meet here and after hours with residents in the new library.”
The library, with its bright colors and modern furniture, is more than double in size from 9,000 square feet to 22,000 square feet. Executive Director Marycatherine McGarvey, who has been in the position for just over a decade, noted that the library had a leak in the roof of the old building and had to take several sections of books out and put buckets on tables to catch the rain.
The children’s library is spacious with a sink and wall of cabinets and countertops for cleanup after arts and crafts. It even has an exit to a secure courtyard should children want to go outside to read or play.
Public Works Director Don Sirianni started working in the department for three years while attending Springfield High School. He went to college for a year and came back to the department and has been there for 42 years.
“I’m a happy camper compared with what we had,” Sirianni noted. “It’s like night and day. All of our vehicles are now inside. We no longer have to remove snow from trash trucks and its also going to increase the life expectancy of our vehicles.”
Taylor said the township was able to stay just under projected 21.7 million construction costs.
The township took out a $10 million line of credit last year. However, Springfield sold its sanitary sewer system to the Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority for $16.5 million and has $3 million in its capital reserve fund.
John Miller, of Oreland, was impressed by the new buildings, but also a bit concerned about the finances.
“Maybe I’m old school,” Miller said. “This is something good if you have the money to pay for it up front, but I don’t like the idea of taking out loans – never did.”