Township manager Scheivert leaving New Garden
● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
On Dec. 14, 2014, Tony Scheivert was formally introduced as the new township manager for New Garden Township.
Soon after the pomp and circumstance accompanying the announcement faded, Scheivert, then 39, posed in the lobby of the Township Building with his wife Erin and their three daughters – ten-year-old Alison, seven-year-old Emma and Katie, who was just three at the time.
The similarities between family and township were generous: both were newly-formed, carrying with them plans and goals and expectations.
A little more than five years later, Alison is a teenager who has a car waiting for her when she begins to drive; Emma is on the cusp of becoming a teenager and Katie is an energetic go-getter who is just a few years away from hitting double digits in age.
A little more than five years later, New Garden Township is now home to a regional police department, who is housed in a state-of-the-art police facility.
It has preserved more than 400 acres for future generations, including the former St. Anthony in the Hills property, which it now owns.
It is in the last stages of an expanded township park.
It has improved its dialogue with the 12,000 residents of the township through the formation of a communications committee.
It has opened its doors to several family events, including visits from Santa Claus and festivals at New Garden Township Park.
Over that period, Scheivert has been at the center of both his family and the township he has helped lead, and as he embarks on a new job beginning in March as the new township manager for Upper Uwchlan Township, he recently paused to reflect on the impact he has made with others at the township.
“I had a great conversation the other day with [local businessman] Frank Manfredi, and he told me that I brought stability to the township,” Scheivert said. “I think that’s one of the things we’ve done well. I think that we have been more approachable than in years past, and I think our board is more approachable, as well. We’re all looking for common goals just to make New Garden a better place for everyone.”
A native of Aston and a graduate of Lock Haven and West Chester universities, Scheivert came to New Garden after several years at Caln Township, where he served as its first ever Park and Recreation Director and later as its assistant township manager. While at Caln, he was instrumental in the development of a 30-acre community park, creating a community day and initializing many community-wide improvement projects.
Scheivert brought the power of partnerships with him to New Garden. Township supervisor Steve Allaband pointed to a number of key issues that Scheivert has been a part of in New Garden, including holding annual meetings of local homeowners’ associations; instituting a road management and replacement program; facilitating events and activities for the community; and connecting the residents of the Harrogate North community whose homes are affected by Phorid fly infestation with regional officials, mushroom growers and scientific research agencies.
“One thing I thought was best about the people in Harrogate North is that they have respect for the mushroom industry, even though it has been the industry at the root of the [Phorid fly] problem,” Scheivert said. “They have understood that the industry has been here for a long time, and I was able to connect them with others in order to achieve a common goal. It’s a credit to them and to the Pia family and to South Mill Mushroom. I was simply able to get them all at a table and facilitate the issue.”
New Garden Township is a humming municipality of events and plans, and one of the key goals for Scheivert when he became the township manager was to create a solid pipeline of information to the township’s residents. Through his work with the township’s Communications Committee, Scheivert engineered several initiatives, including the redesign of the township’s website, and the formation of the New Garden Lyceum Community newsletter, a quarterly e-magazine of articles, news and notes about the township.
“Tony was always open for ideas that would help township residents get connected to better understand important events, as well as fun social happenings,” said Stan Lukoff of the Communications Committee. “Tony was also instrumental and supportive of the old web site to a new updated platform and set up social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter to increase communications and transparency.
“Also, he fully supported and was engaged in multiple surveys to township residents to get important feedback. I also worked with Tony to create a performance dashboard for various areas to monitor progress and status.”
The year 2019 was a difficult one for Scheivert. During the course of a few months, he lost both of his parents, and yet still had the responsibility of maintaining the business of the township.
“The board and the staff didn’t miss a beat during my absence,” Scheivert said. “My mother died on a Monday morning, and I came in on Tuesday to attend a board meeting that night. I told the board that I was going to take off the remainder of the week, and be back on Tuesday. [Board member] Richard Ayotte came up to me and said, ‘Tony, you’ve had a very difficult year. Take the time you need. We’ve got this. Everything will be okay.’”
All five board members attended Schievert’s mother’s viewing, and four out of the five supervisors attended Scheivert’s father’s viewing; the lone missing supervisor was not able to attend because he was out of the country at the time.
“The township manager job is a very complex job with 10,000 moving pieces, and it’s hard to focus on one area alone, but Tony has the ability to focus on a multitude of issues,” Allaband said. “Tony has been able to take us further in a lot of areas, especially with his many initiatives to bring the community together, and connect them with the township’s elected and appointed officials.”
Of his many accomplishments at New Garden Township over the last five years, there is one that stands taller than the rest, where a plaque is bolted on the wall at its entrance and bears Scheivert’s name and the names of five township supervisors.
On Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, more than 150 residents, elected officials, police officers and their families gathered at 8934 Gap-Newport Pike to celebrate at the new home of the Southern Chester County Regional Police Department – an 11,716-square-foot facility that was priced at $4.34 million. Scheivert served as a key stakeholder, supporter and facilitator in the project, from the time the concept was originally introduced four years ago and throughout its 374-day construction period.
Gerald Simpson, police chief for the Southern Chester County Regional Police Department, called Scheivert a “talented asset” for the township and a key figure in the championing of the regional police concept and the creation its new headquarters.
“From the day he arrived, Tony was a vital piece of every substantial accomplishment the police department experienced,” Simpson said. “Fostering an environment of spirited think-tanking, we discovered purpose and solutions to our challenges, and he courageously supported the police department, bringing shape and results to my vision for public safety.
“Whether it was input on the Inter-Municipal Agreement or negotiating two collective bargaining agreements with the police association, our rapid evolution was made possible by his leadership. What a team we all made!”
Of the many achievements that Scheivert has made for the township over the past five years, there is one he’s particularly proud of.
“When I came here five years ago, I came to a beautiful facility,” Scheivert said. “We’re here from 8 to 4, and we have meetings six nights a week, but I wanted more people to use the Township Building. Now, local businesses hold their meetings here, as do our Boy Scout and Girl Scout groups. When most people think of a township building, they think of going there to pay taxes and sewer bills and apply for permits.
“I don’t want people thinking this way. I want them to think of this building as a community center. I want them to come to this building and say, ‘Hey, this is where I take Yoga classes. This is where I come with my daughter for scout meetings.’ I want them to have a positive view of being at our offices and say, ‘This is my township building.’”
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email firstname.lastname@example.org.