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Taking the reins in East Marlborough

08/22/2016 09:22AM ● Published by J. Chambless

Laurie Prysock has been named the new Township Manager in East Marlborough. Her first Board of Supervisors meeting is Sept. 12.

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

As she steps up to be Township Manager in East Marlborough, Laurie Prysock is excited about new possibilities, but keenly aware that her predecessor, Jane Laslo, is taking away 40 years of historical knowledge. Fortunately, Prysock said with a smile, “Jane has promised to pick up the phone when I call.”

During an interview last week at the township office, Prysock sketched out the path that has led her to this point. She grew up in Highland Township in Chester County, lived in the Washington, D.C. area for 16 years, where she worked in major political donor fundraising, ran her own planning consultant business for eight years, and then moved back to Chester County in 2007.

“From 2007 until 2013, I was the race director for the Willowdale Steeplechase, so I interacted with the township because of the race logistics,” she said. “I coordinated with Jane and Police Chief Clarke and some of the supervisors as well.”

Prysock's background in consulting and budgeting were strong credentials when she was brought on board in 2014 and appointed Assistant Township Manager in January 2016. “It was an easy transition in terms of the finance end of things,” she said. “I don't want to speak for Jane, but I think she had an idea that she would be retiring and she wanted peace of mind that when she retired, the township was not going to be in a position of, 'What now?'”
Prysock's husband is an attorney, and their three sons have attended Unionville-Chadds Ford schools. Two are now at Salesianum in Wilmington, Del., and one is at Patton Middle School. “I live here in East Marlborough. I could walk to work if I wanted to,” she said, “and on nice fall days, I plan on doing that.”

Working side by side with Laslo since 2014 has given Prysock insight into how township management works, and has connected her with each of the departments and commissions.

“I work well with this board of supervisors, and they found that my past experience and the role I've been playing for the past few years made me the best candidate,” Prysock said. “This is a very fiscally responsible board, and taxes haven't been raised in recent memory. Property values have increased, so we receive a greater portion from property taxes. The board wants to be sure that taxpayer dollars are being utilized in a way that is most beneficial to the township and the taxpayers. The board has done an extraordinary job of balancing services with a growing population, while maintaining the tax rate that we have.”

While Laslo also served as township zoning officer and treasurer, Prysock said she will be taking on additional roles as township treasurer and board secretary, but leaving the zoning work to be outsourced in the short term.

The office functions with a staff of three. “It's a lean -- not mean -- organization,” Prysock said, laughing. In 2015, the cost of the township manager and staff was $120,000. The general fund budget hovers around $2.2 million each year, a total which has remained fairly stable.

Encompassed in the township's 16 square miles is a wide diversity of properties – Longwood Gardens and the New Bolton Center, the congested commercial corridor of Route 1, horse farms and estates, and homeowners who are financially distressed. “The township has to provide services equally,” Prysock said. “From a township perspective, we provide public service – roads, sewer, safety. I don't know that it matters to anyone here whether it's for a millionaire or someone in foreclosure. We make sure that things are applied equally and uniformly.”

While East Marlborough is bordered by areas that have been struggling with drugs and associated crime, “As a resident, I can say there are concerns, because we hear about crime and drugs. Fortunately, I don't see it,” Prysock said. “I think the township is fortunate because a lot of it is unavailable to large-scale development because of the zoning. So yes, there is crime here, but it's mostly petty crime.”

While the open fields of East Marlborough are its calling card, there is a townhouse community under construction on Walnut Road, and another proposed on Schoolhouse Road. The trick is to keep hold of development so that it is done in a planned way.

“I'll let the board lead on projects,” Prysock said. “Township Manager is an administrative job. I have a lot of experience as a manager, and I bring that to the township. But the board will establish what their objectives are. I don't see that changing any time in the near future. I'm going to follow their lead and be the implementer.”

Prysock credits the extensive network of volunteers who serve Planning Commission and Historical Commission with keeping the township's historic assets in good repair while holding the line on any kind of sprawl.

She points to the new Unionville Park as a major plus in the township, as well as a tribute to the work of Laslo and others who led the project. “I can't wait to go walk there in the fall,” she said. “I go over there periodically to check on things, and there are a lot of people there walking their dogs, enjoying the park. It's being utilized.”

From working so closely with Laslo, Prysock knows how passionate residents can be about addressing problems in their neighborhoods. “We provide a public service, so people stop into the office to pay a bill or whatever, and they'll ask, 'When are lines going to be put back on the road that got repaved?' Or 'There's a tree down,'” Prysock said. “And that's fine, because that's sometimes the most efficient way to get the information through. There's comment at public meetings, and people stop in regularly.”

The township's active Facebook page is a great resource for news – everything from finding lost pets to announcing breaking news, such as the resurfacing of Route 1 from Greenwood Road to Schoolhouse Road. “It will happen in the evening, but it will be disruptive to people traveling that way,” Prysock said. “That's something we'll put on the Facebook page to get that information out quickly.”

Prysock said she appreciates how well the township has been run by those who came before her, and those who will be working with her in the coming years. “I'm a resident, so I've been a beneficiary of that,” she said. “Change is never easy. Jane's been the Township Manager for 40 years. I'm a firm believer that there's no need to reinvent the wheel. If it's working, great. But we'll miss Jane's historical knowledge. Everyone has been willing to say, 'Call me if you need anything.' I'm looking forward to that, and working with the board.”

To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email jchambless@chestercounty.com.


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