Allaband looks to serve third term as New Garden supervisor
10/24/2017 04:24PM ● Published by Richard Gaw
Two-term New Garden Township Supervisor Stephen Allaband, who is challenging opponent Mark Tully for a seat on the board that will be decided on Nov. 7, first became involved in township politics in 1999, when it was a different place.
Acre by precious acre, the community was being gobbled up by real estate developers, who helped transform what had once been a rural outpost of third-, fourth- and often fifth-generation families into a tract-by-tract complex of sprawling developments that drew thousands of newcomers who wanted their small slice of paradise.
That year, Allaband became a member of the township's Planning Commission, a job he held until 2003, when he was elected as to the township's Board of Supervisors, winning as a write-in on both the Republican and Democratic ballots, and served from 2004 until 2009. During his first term, Allaband helped rewrite the township's Comprehensive Plan, which was released in 2005.
"When I was on the Planning Commission, the township was issuing a certificate of occupancy every day, so we were under the pressures of significant development," Allaband said. "The developers were coming in and taking advantage of the township, which was in a position of reacting instead of being proactive. When I came onto the Commission, one of my goals was to limit these waivers and enforce the ordinances that were on the books, in an effort to keep residential growth from spiraling out of control."
As he campaigns for what could be his third term on the board in an election to be held Nov. 7, Allaband said the incentive that got him into local politics 18 years ago -- to keep the township from being turned over to over-development -- remains at the top of his platform.
"In 2003, we began the Comprehensive Plan rewrite and did a public survey," he said, "and respondents overwhelmingly wanted to preserve ground and limit the pressures of development. The township purchased several parcels in order to buy the development rights and limit residential growth. As we plan the rewrite of the Plan, the most recent survey is not that much different than it revealed in 2003."
During his second term as supervisor, Allaband spearheaded the passage of the Open Space Referendum, and worked with township volunteers to start and build a trail system on lands that the township purchased with open space money, including the Landenberg Junction Trail, Laurel Woods Trail, and the Mill Race Trail, which are all part of the township’s Greenways and Trails Plan that was adopted in his first term.
While championing efforts to preserve open space, Allaband said that the township must continue to call for the improvement of its infrastructure -- mainly, continue to push PennDOT to modernize state roads throughout the township, chiefly along Newark Road, in order to meet the needs of a changing constituency.
The PennDOT improvements currently occurring at the intersection of Newark Road and Route 41 are a good start, but the township, Allaband said, must decide whether it wants to play a waiting game with PennDOT to repair the troublesome intersection of Baltimore Pike and Newark Road, or whether it wants to make the repairs on its own, with the help of state grants.
Once was the time in New Garden Township when choosing to pay for a project of this kind on its own would leave supervisors scrambling through budgets to come up with funding, but beginning in 2018, the township and its supervisors will be alleviated somewhat from the headaches associated with major spending.
By the end of 2017, the township will make a $29 million deposit [minus a $1.7 debt service] from the sale of its sewer system to Aqua Pennsylvania, a pricetag that Allaband said will go a long way to help fund several projects on the township's To-Do list.
Allaband said that between $300,000 and $400,000 is likely to be directed toward the improvement of three township bridges, which include Bancroft Road Bridge, Egypt Run Bridge and Chambers Road Bridge.
"In addition to allocating some money toward improvements of road and street infrastructure [from the $29 million], I would like the township to target funding for the revitalization of Toughkenamon, including the addition of sidewalks and curbs," he said. "I am currently working with Representative Eric Roe and State Senator Andrew Dinniman to explore opportunities for Toughkenamon. It needs commitment from the township in order to improve it. There are some lots than can be in-filled. If the township makes these repairs and changes zoning, there will be property transactions in Toughkenamon, which will create opportunities."
Allaband, a member of the Commissioners for the Southern Chester County Regional Police Department, said that a sizable chunk of the $29 million -- between $4.5 million and $6.5 million, early estimates say -- will go toward the construction of the police department's future headquarters on Gap-Newport Pike. The design, currently being developed by the Wilmington-based architectural design firm Tevebaugh Associates, will be an 11,716-square-foot, single-story, L-shaped facility. Construction is expected to begin in 2018, and it is estimated that construction should be completed by October 2018.
"With the regional police department, we're proving that when you consolidate your police resources, it can help the community and provide even better service than before," said Allaband, who applauded the regional police's efforts in immersing themselves within the local community. "New Garden Township became safer when our police department went to 24-hour service, and now that we're regionalized, we still provide the same service and enjoy increased police coverage."
As he campaigns for what may become his third term on the New Garden board, Allaband defines his role as someone who has keen understanding of township ordinances, a strong knowledge of its history, and the experience of more than 35 years working in the private sector.
"I have a very large commitment to the community that I would like to continue for another six years," Allaband added. "I think the township is on the edge of a lot of initiatives, with open space preservation, agriculture, as well as some commercial development, conservation efforts, infrastructure improvements, as well as its revamped regional police department."
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email firstname.lastname@example.org .